Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ouch... that one's going to leave a mark

I am a pcusa minister. Like many mainline denominations we have our fair share of controversies. Currently our denomination is very active in the NCC and in an effort to divest from certain companies who are active in the Middle East. We also argue yearly over ordination of homosexuals, etc, etc, etc... Our higher governing body tends to lean a lot more to the left than the religious right that fills a good part of its pews. The pastor - especially the pastors of smaller churches - get caught in the crossfire.

I have just been nicked. Actually right now it feels like far more than just a flesh wound. Long story short is that I have stood firm that this church will continue to pay its dues to General Assembly. The governing body of our individual church has gone over and over what to do about GA and has come down on focusing on what this individual church can do in this community rather than focusing on what will ultimately divide us.

We have one powerful member who does not agree with this stance. He has just informed me that he and his wife and other members of his family are leaving our membership and want to be taken out of the directories and off the newsletter list.

I should be triumphant - yeah, he's gone. But I am not. I am so sad and hurt and pained. I am pained for this church, I am pained for his family and I am pained for our friendship.

He was on the committee that chose me to receive this Call. When he was downsizing his furniture business he had us come in and pick what we wanted so he is the reason why our house is furnished with reasonable looking furniture and not pieces of plywood set up between crates. I love him and his wife so much and now they are being ripped away from me because of stupid politics and money. He believes in the power of the purse and I refuse to let that power dictate our church.

There is more. I am worried for him because I think he is slipping into the grips of dementia. He and his wife are in their 80's and in the past few years you could see him slipping mentally. I think this pcusa thing is what he has chosen to cling to. So how do I communicate with his wife that she can turn to us when he is soon too far gone. We are the church of Christ and we will NOT turn our backs on them. How do I get this across when I am no longer welcome to visit or to call.

Ouch. This hurts. Ouch. This hurts. Ouch.... Lord hear my prayer.

Boot the Head Awards - Received and Nominees

Well, Mr. Robertson won last week in a landslide. It was not even close although any time a church board member proclaims that people might think he is rich because he drives a ... LeSabre… well, they’ve got to be in the running too.

This week we already have some potential candidates for the weekly Boot to the Head Award.

I am nominating the folks who could have evacuated but did not in the face of Hurricane Katrina. I am mainly nominating them because it did not have to be like this and it makes my heart ache as I watch normally stone-faced reporters crack as they describe the horror of not being able to reach those who are drowning in their own homes. I realize there are folks who could not get out for physical or financial reasons but there are others who stayed out of arrogance. It is those that I nominate for this award.

On a church note I would also like to nominate all of the families who did not come out to our church retreat this past weekend. The retreat is free. The retreat is 20 minutes away. The retreat is not overscheduled, yet not boring either. The options are endless: come for the entire weekend, come for an afternoon, come for lunch, just come!

I especially want to nominate those families who were personally invited by me or others from the committee but who said their children didn’t want to go. Sometimes you’ve got to take your kids anyway, knowing that once they get there they will have a great time. Do you really want your 8 year old running your household?! How does your child know if they want to go if they never have actually been?!?!?! Which part would they have not enjoyed – running around with the kids who did show up, spitting watermelon seeds, all the dessert you could eat, playing in the creek – please tell me, which one of those was so incredibly awful.

Another group of nominees are the folks who refused to come out and worship with us. We average about 100 in worship normally and only 39 came out. There are directions everywhere and carpools waiting at the church to bring folks up to the camp. The seating is comfortable and accessible from the parking lot (one woman made it with her walker, it’s not like we are asking them to climb Mt. Rushmore).

Hey, guess what, all of you folks who beg and plead for more contemporary music – THIS WAS YOUR SERVICE – where were you? All of you folks who wish we would do something different every once in awhile – THIS WAS YOUR SERVICE – where were you? The amount of folks who didn’t come out because of laziness or stubbornness are hereby nominated for the Boot to the Head Award.

Who are your nominees?

Friday, August 26, 2005

The softer side of me...

7 things that suprise me about being a Mom:

7) I never mind the fact that he is now my alarm clock. I find myself going to him happily because I missed him during the night.

6) That the pediatrician always says we are doing a good job and lets us take him back home with us.

5) How patient I can be with him (not all of the time, but certainly more than I ever thought I would be).

4) How incredible the back of his neck smells.

3) How incredibly cute oatmeal and apple mush can be when spread on a dimply face that looks just like yours (only his cheeks are described as cute and pudgy, not fat!)

2) How much stronger he has made our marriage.

1) That although I will never get too cocky about it(let's face it the kid doesn't talk or move yet), I don't think I am too bad at this Mommy thing.

Thanks. That felt good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Boot to the Head Award

I grew up listening to Dr. Demento and one of my favorites was a series of skits by The Frantics entitled: Boot to the Head

Okay, with deep concern that the previous link and the following may get me kicked out of the Rev. Gal Pals ring I am seriously thinking about running a weekly contest. The 'Boot to the Head" award.

This will be a weekly contest with the winner being announced every Tuesday. It is open to figures in the public domain and to those people you come across in life. Just tell us the name or fake name of your nominee and your reason why they should be this week's winner in the comments section of that week's 'Boot to the Head' blog.

My nominee for this week is Pat Robertson for his brilliant interpretation of the commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Apparantly thou shall only not kill if it will decrease America's oil supply. If the pipeline will remain open then by all means, assasinate freely

Anniversary Trip

Tall, Dark & Husband (TDH) took me on a 2 night trip to Baltimore's Inner Harbor to celebrate our anniversary. It was very fun and cool and fairly relaxing which is particularly impressive since TDH insisted on bringing The Boy (6 months). Now obviously I love The Boy and I am grateful that he has blessed our lives but I would have been okay without him. Would I have missed him - yes. Would I have grabbed him and given him kisses and hugs the second I saw him again - yes.

Would I have appreciated the sweet slumber that can only be achieved when one does not have an ear out for a baby that I find sweet but whom other hotel guests might not appreciate as an alarm clock at 5 in the morning. - Hell Yes!

I do have some stories to share, but I also have work to catch up on. I am allowing myself this brief blog and if I am a good worker I might blog a bit later. I do have to tell you all how I was witnessed to and have now thank goodness accepted Jesus Christ into my humble little preaching life.

Hopefully that will make being a minister easier. I was told that an easier life and full joy awaited me upon this decision so I am quite excited about that.

More soon. Have a good day!

Friday, August 19, 2005

September 11, 2001

"Wow, my second official day in my first official office of my post-seminary career. Let's see, what should I do first? I have worship to plan and a bulletin to produce. I have so many people to meet and greet... should I get business cards? Can I have them say 'Rev.' on them even though I don't get ordained for a couple more weeks. Will that jinx it?"

"What should I preach on? I guess I could start with some fluff - Jesus loves us, mission is good, that kind of stuff. Nothing too apocalyptic."

"I guess what I really should do is get my ordination stuff in order. I am up here in Pennsylvania and the ordination is in Florida. Oh well, it's not like travel plans will get too interrupted."

"Speaking of travel plans I wonder how my sister is doing. She has a travelling job now - so lucky. I think this week she is in DC. How cool is that? Of course I like my place too, here in central PA. Not much in common though."

"Alright, time to slow the mind down, take some deep breathes and try to figure out what business as usual is."

"Oooh! A phone call for me - first one. Cool. Who is it? My husband. Why would he be calling me?"

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pressure Nap

My 6 month old son is in the office with me this morning. Right now he is in his pak n' play heading (hopefully) for a nap.

It is always challenging to have him in the office. I do not get near as much done of course and really have no time for procrastination of any kind... hence me typing this blog, incredibly crucial to not only my congregation but our human existence as we know it!

The first time I had him in my office I knew he was my charge for the week (his stay at home Dad was on a mission trip). When I laid him down to nap I almost went into a panic trying to figure out all I had to do and if you were looking in my office you might have used the word frenzy. I was here, I was there - "Oh my God I have so much to do in the 20 minutes he naps! AAAh!!!"

Not that I accomplished anything mind you. It was like a weird baby-napping-brain-freeze made all the weirder because I am generally quite cool in an emergency or adreniline-based event.

I am much calmer this time around - although still accomplishing very little (except saving our way of human life as we know it, of course).

He's drifting off(him)... deep breathes(both of us)... time to write a sermon(me)...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

...easy like monday morning...

There is a jeans commercial that features the lyrics: I'm easy like Sunday morning... This song sung by Faith No More always gives me a bit of a chuckle because for me Sundays ain't easy. In my world easy is Monday morning.

What does a pastor do anyway? My guess is if you surveyed ten church-going folks they would come up with: preaches on Sunday, attends some meetings, maybe goes to a church function or two and then.... ummm, err... What do we pay them for anyway?

Don't get me wrong, I love my job - and I genuinely feel called to it by God - but sometimes I get frustrated that no one seems to get it. On Sunday I am basically on stage from the time I start crossing the parking lot until the time I walk back through my front door (we live on the church grounds). A lot of folks will base whether they like me or not on if I smile at them as I grab a drink at the water fountain or if I remember that they were going to their great aunt Edna's for supper last week or if I noticed that their baby has cut a new tooth.

Anyway, enough about the griping let's move to the genuine pleasure of life - a day off. For me that is Monday. I have just finished a week and the climax of the following week is still far away enough for me to think I will be able to get everything done. I can sleep in, do household chores, run errands... or not. I get to hang out with my son instead of being a parent who just drifts by occasionally when I am not too busy. It is a totally relaxing day for me where I get to be (and feel) like normal people.

Now of course due to occupation and proximity to the church I do get interrupted. Yesterday a knock came on the door from one of my beloved parishioners informing me of all the light bulbs he had fixed (I refrained from suggesting that I didn't need to know such detail).

So while the majority gripes about Monday mornings, I will continue to cherish them. That's why I'm easy...

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Little Less Dizzy

I have been pastor of a rural pcusa congregation for almost 4 years now. It is my first ordained call. We have been through the honeymoon stage. We have been through the timid stage. We have been through the defensive, taking everything too personally stage... okay, who ever really gets through THAT stage.

Now we are in the confident, what am I being called to do in this community with this congregation phase.

Sounds arrogant, doesn't it? You can say it does.

Basically at this point in my ministry all I can confidently say is that I am a little less dizzy, a little more busy, and a lot hoping that I can keep my own agenda out of the way of the higher cause.

The Normal Beginner Blog

I have no idea what I am doing or if I will even have time, but far be it from me to not experience this trend. I shall play and then I shall be back.