Processing with God: Narrative Lectionary, Liturgy, Prayers
Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant since 2010, where the church has solidified its community focus. Prior to that she studied both Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She also served as an Assistant Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and as the Christian Educational Coordinator at Bethany Presbyterian at Bloomfield, NJ.
She is an writer and is published in Enfleshed, Sermonsuite, Presbyterian's today and Outlook. She writes prayers, liturgy, poems and public theology and is pursuing her doctorate in ministry in Creative Write and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
She enjoys working within and connecting to the community, is known to laugh a lot during service, and tells as many stories as possible. Pastor Katy loves reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, theater, arts and crafts, music, playing with children and sunshine, and continues to try to be as (w)holistically Christian as possible.
"Publisher after publisher turned down A Wrinkle in Time," L'Engle wrote, "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adult's book, anyhow?" The next year it won the prestigious John Newbery Medal.
Tolkien states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one. Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times.
Call to Worship God of the sick, naked and hungry Help us to see you God of the thirsty, the stranger, the prisoner Help us to welcome you God of the least of these, let us remember you Come let us worship Jesus, born in the manger, minister to the sick, welcomer of all
Call to Confession: God lets us confess everything, Out Loud, at a whisper or at shout, God will hear whatever it is we need say, come let us say it all to God.
Confession: God we confess, we do not know what the difference is between invitation, welcoming, accessibility and true acceptance and belonging. Too often we think that throwing open the doors is enough, when we forget that you, Jesus Christ wandered the streets for three years, healing and teaching, teaching and toughing them and calling them individually by name. Teach us to love more deeply we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: God knows how to love and forgive, and teaches us everyday, Hear the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God, may we go into the world holding tightly onto the idea that we are called to be the helpers of the world, we called to action, that we are called to find the image of Jesus Christ in every human being we meet not out of pity but out of belovedness. Teach us to do this we pray. Amen.
Hymns: Jesu, Jesu, Lord I Wanna Be a Christian In My Heart, Here I am To Worship, There is a Balm in Gilead, Amazing Grace, What Wondrous Love is This
Children: God Gave Us You Book, Talk About Seeing Christ in Every Single Person you Meet, not out of Pity but Out of Love
Notes: Kingdom of Heaven is Like Seeing Christ in Everyone, Further Mr. Rogers Theme We are the Helpers
Picture Fred Rogers “When I was a Boy and I would see Scary Things in the News My mouther would say to me “Look for the Helpers You will always find people who are Helping” –Fred Rogers
Here is a prayer for the pastors* The ones who are quitting the ones whose therapists ask “Is there another line of work you can do?”
Here’s a prayer for the pastors Who get phone calls about another piece of the building breaking… Another pillar of the church in the hospital… Another person threatening to leave…
Here’s a prayer for the pastor who hears the whispers who thought they would be backed up at the meeting only to hear silence
Here’s the prayer for the Pastor who draws the firm boundaries but grinds their teeth or gets migraines or talks to their therapist, spiritual director and prayer partner to keep it all together
Here’s a prayer to the pastor, who gets asked “Are you the pastor???” on the regular But has been serving faithfully, for many a year; competently and well
Here’s a prayer of the pastor, who has intrusive thoughts And suicidal ideation Here’s a prayer for the pastor, who gets a donation for the poor And thinks–but I am the poor
And has to figure out, which bill not to pay each month And is striving to help their congregation Even as they cannot meet their own needs Because church’s cannot conceive what salary is needed to live on these days
Here’s a prayer for a pastor who is far away from colleagues And is lonely, and trying to preach from their scars and not their wounds Here’s a prayer for the pastor
Who knows self care is not bubble baths and massages But has little time, money or energy to do what needs to be done Especially post-Covid Here’s a prayer for the burnt out pastor
Here’s the prayer for the pastor Banging on the governmental doors: Civic, Denominational; Local and National And says, “God give them ears to hear” and goes home with empty hands
Here’s a prayer for the pastor who needs support At every level and cries in the shower
“My God, My God Why have you abandoned Me?”
Here is a prayer for that Pastor I’m praying for you, so you don’t have to
Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
*This prayer is an amalgam of all those pastors who have been overwhelmed throughout my ministry life and does not represent any one person
Questioning ……………Is so beautiful Have …………………….You Ever Ev ……………..er ……………………. Been caught un awares by a ……….Child’s quest ioning queer ing your ……..brain in making you ketchup ……… the sandwich of the world? Your drive in …….ter In ………..ter ………………………. rupted …………. Goals Re …………..Vise You cannot ……………Block the Sun with the …………………….Visor Too ……………Bright ly ………Eyeing Shin …………..shin …………………….Shining Quest …………Questioning Quer …………Queering ………………….Queurying Requeering ……………Requestioning ………………… Quest-Re Queer-Re ………..Quester-Eye ………..Jester- ………..Gesture ………..In Quire ………..You-are Squire- ………………. ing ……..Eye-ring Rupted ……Ter ….In Caught …….Ever ……………You Been Have …………………..Caught Child By Child’s Ioning ………..Quest Queer ………..You? Beautiful So ………..is Questioning.
Feel free use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Call to Worship O God, send out your light and truth Let them lead me Let your let and truth envelope me Let them bring me to your dwelling place May I be awake For then I will praise you with exceeding joy, Come let us praise the Lord!
Prayer of Confession: God says that we can always confess, for God will wait for us, come let us confess ourselves to God
Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we struggle to be awake. Sometimes we confess we do not even know what it means to be awake. What is it we are being awake for? And we worry, will we recognize you when you knock on the door? Forgive us when we try to be make busy work for ourselves. Remind us that paying attention is holy work*. Amen
Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we do not think that we should use our talents: whether that means our gifts or actual money; we confess that we humans are designed to hoard things. We do not invest or spend like you are an abundant God. Forgive us, teach us how to prepare the ground for an abundant and open Kingdom we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good News, Jesus sends envelopes us in forgiveness and brings us back home: let us proclaim the Gospel Truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God you remind us that you are equipping us. You are giving us the tools we need to be present and do the work. Let us go into the world full of your Kin(g)dom we pray. Amen.
*Its Mr. Rogers Sunday this is a whole sermon right here
Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Content Warning: Sexual Abuse, Ordination Exams, Trauma
Bad Theology Kills There are nicer terminologies to make and there are definitely complete lexicons and entire books written of theology Karl Barth has a really complete theology of love Elie Wiesel asks tough questions about genocide war and abuse Just today, Amanda Palmer a somewhat Radical Feminist, who is all too imperfect herself (might I add) cited a quote her friend’s book who quoted the famous theologian Fredrick Buechner Amanda Palmer says “I feel this sentiment in my core today. I have seen, heard, been privy to so much darkness lately. I feel honored to stand near it, but also see – laid painfully bare, more than I ever have – the unfathomable and sometimes unbearable wounds of trauma. The depths. The seemingly unhealable.” She says this not knowing that this is a theological quote, but Amanda Palmer, pop star, gets it that Life is a Terror text
And for me Theology is how you practice your Christianity; It is where the rubber meets the road
Not being afraid means, dealing with the trauma as it comes, but also acknowledging that the trauma is real. One cannot pretend it isn’t real.
Because the reality is–Bad Theology kills
White Page that says Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid–Frederick Buechner
But for me…
When you force the people you want to be pastors to sit in a room utterly alone with what is possibly the most traumatic text in the Bible its abusive
I guess I should start with this: I believe in apologies. I believe in full and complete apologies. I believe in confession. I believe in stating fully who you are, what you have done right and wrong and trying to fix what is wrong so that we can fix that wrong things, and make things better. It is a core theology of mine.
I think that there is confusion Those who are hurt do not want an apology for the Bible The apology would be for the trauma
And when you don’t apologize And you say–we have done such things before
And that does not make you examine how you have done things before
And when you feel like the entire weight of the church ordination and the denomination is on your shoulders
And that does not make you pause and confess and think
Maybe there could be a more life-giving way to do this
And when person after person has come to me and say This is the last straw
And these other people tell me I’m leaving ministry and the process of becoming a minister because of this test…
To pretend we have all sufficiently dealt with trauma On the eve of the third anniversary Of a worldwide pandemic Is ludicrous–there is not such thing as an untraumatized person right now So yes, we know trauma is real We also do not want to practice bad theological practices Because Bad Theology Kills We know this!
It is different to deal with a text Where you know in advance about it In community When you can call your therapist When your entire job is not on the line When you can ask for help
If you don’t think that the Judges 19 scandal Isn’t cut from a similar cloth as the complementation scandal the Gospel Coalition is dealing with… You are missing how women continue to be subjugated and ignored via the Bible…(See Also: How is this coming to a head when trans bans, drag bans, books bans, teaching history bans and rest is happening gives a lot of food for thought) Because Bad Theology Kills: it is Killing calls to ministry right here and now
Picture of a women facing a panel of just men who say: It’s not that we don’t believe your story. IT’s that we don’t care. Cartoon by NakedPastor
Welp..I guess you were right.. I guess this test is that important But not in the way you thought it was
If more self care is needed for pastor By God, let’s do it! I’m all for it! What resources can we provide Let’s hire full time Sabbatical pastors, a therapist and a Chaplain, One for every Synod or for General Assembly If you want to be generous For every Presbytery!
You think more education is needed? Great lets open up free schools! Let’s provide arts clubs and places of music& PE all those things schools are cutting (Fun fact Sunday School taught kids to read FOR FREE When School was inacessable, because kids had to work; what could Sunday School be for the arts now– If we took that as our model?) Lets be the most educated denomination In the land. Let’s get that equity going! I bet all the kids would enroll In free college classes In LGBTQIA and Community Organizing classes What more could we provide–could we give free virtual classes in the Bible? What about classes about theology? The latest books? The Nap Ministry? This Here Flesh? The Possibilities are endless. Faith Seeking Understaning, we could learn so much together!
Lets help support all those Black and Brown Churches The ones we’ve been ignoring for years What resources do they need? I bet they could tell us what they need, and why, and give us a host of ideas, quick! Let’s start it tomorrow.
You think everyone is overworked and tired? Great, lets start pay equity and healthcare, Could we provide healthcare for our support staffs even more than we do now? How much more can God do? How is that Family Leave Overture going? I can tell you every pastor I know is looking at if your Presbytery has it before they consider moving there
Did your Presbytery, Synod or Leader agree or disagree with the Judges 19 test? Is your area dealing with a pastor shortage? I bet there is a more experience oriented, Justice-giving, innovative Matthew 25 way to Educate and Support Pastors.
Did you know most pastors are older, LBGTQIA, POC? They are not going to be the married white man with children, and that is great, because most ministries are going to be different from here on out. If we are going to reach the community, We are going to have to ordain pastors beyond the pews.
While we are re-imagining what it means to be a minister (Hint: look at all the ways to minister in Matthew 25) It might be time to rethink how we evaluate ministers:
I don’t know about you, but while I am running my church’s 3 nonprofits, and taking care of my congregation, I don’t have time to conjugate Greek and Hebrew verbs– I love the vocabulary, but the community is just a bit more important (Don’t worry its just me, I preach 48+ sermons a year, 13+ years, Princeton Trained, but my credentials matter less than my ministry work)
And while we are speaking of that and entry level ministry How many entry level ministers go to a flourishing ministry with associate ministers who take care of other things, while they sit in the office and work on their sermons, None?
My theology is to take care of the people first Of course I do that about talking about the Bible I reference (and study) the Bible EVERY single day But I don’t do that in Greek and Hebrew I do that by sitting by the Well and listening, and Walking in the Community and meeting people where they are at every chance I gettoCommunity build and partner.. I’m just following the example of some Rabbi I admire…
I hope you have time to do that too And maybe someday, we will realize that our goals are the same To be a Matthew 25 Church And to serve God and God’s people, together
Article by Pastor Katy Stenta @katyandtheword Feel free to use/share with attribution
Call to Worship The Poor One Calls to The Lord God hears, and saves the poor, out of all of their Troubles Looks it is the Angel of the Lord The Angel of the Lord comes, and encamps around those who fear God, and delivers them Taste and see that God is God, Blessed is the one who takes refuge in God Come let us take refuge in God Today
Invitation to Confession: Jesus says come to me those who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest, come let us lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus.
God: We confess, we do not understand this Wedding Feast. This parable, confuses us and confounds us. Who are we to invite? How are we to dress? Is the violence good or bad? Who is even getting married in the first place? Perhaps the point is not about the invitations or being chosen, but that fact that we are here, at God’s table, together. Help us to gather at the table, whenever God invites us to we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good news, Jesus will always forgive us, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Let us proclaim that good news to one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God, help us to walk into the world, inspired to act not just like those invited, but as though Jesus is chasing humanity, over and over again. Let us remember that Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Hymns: On Eagle’s Wings, Jesus Our Divine Companion, Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door, We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight,
Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Canva Image (created by Katy Stenta) Brown Hands welcoming a line of multicultural people, behind which is a basket of bread and wine and the Golden outline of a Middle-Eastern Couple Getting Married
Notes: the differences between invitation and belonging seem relevant
The idea of getting kicked out for not dressing right in the era of anti-Trans/Drag legislation is super ouchy. Handle with Care. But I think it’s also something that may need to be addressed. I bet this person was dressed with hate and thought that was more appropriate than the drag queens and the sec workers off the streets.
They always say that the cleanup takes the longest that’s actually the Presbyterians specialty
Long after the Salvation Army has left We Presbyterians are there, Sometimes so long, that we greet the next disaster
Someday that comfort, me, and other its depresses me.
Why are so many people dying? The prayer group asks? As we sit on the zoom screens
A beautiful remnant of Covid a learned way to gather with one another– A way the we have been finally dragged into the 2st centuary
And I look at the calendar, and realize Yes, this is the trauma-ersary, Three years ago, we had the last normal week of our lives
Just like 9/11 2001, my entire childhood was defined one way And then boom. Explosion My entire adulthood Every Single Thing Changed
Back to why so many people are dying “We are still in the aftershocks of Covid, I think” I say..slowly “You know, like after an earthquake, and this was a worldwide event Its not as noticeable as an earthquake, but here we are, Still experiencing the massive aftereffects of trauma, from a pandemic”
I’m no scientist, but I know it is true Plus I’ve seen the actual science I know we are tired, worn, and more ready to let go We are still in the waves, where longterm care is needed
The problem being, its needed pretty much everywhere By everywhere, And we humans are not so good at that
Be gentle with yourselves this moth Be gentle with yourself this March, When you feel overwhelmed, remember
We are all Traumatized
If you or your family feel sick or trapped, or stuck at home (especially if you have days at home in storms or God forbid Zoom Days) Try to give yourself space to heal or Be
Practice Self-Care (which is not bubble baths or shopping)
Find ways to Breathe, space to be fully yourself and safe And ways to provide yourself with long term health and care
Screw this Trauma-versary May we all find Space within it
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Image is “A year ago crossed out, two years ago crossed out, three years, this was our last normal year and nobody knew it” tweeted by Santiago mayer” dated 3/3/21
Call to Worship God, how is it your grace is so expansive Truly God, your keep calling us Come let us bless our God who calls us God calls us by name Let us keep God before us, God who is always at our right hand! God be praised, God is with us! Let us Praise God together!
Call to Confession: God is calling us to confess, Come let us confess ourselves to God
Prayer of Confession: God we confess that sometimes you have to call us more than once. Sometimes we are the ones that do not hear you until close til dusk. We confess that we envision ourselves as the early morning workers–but we do not know when it is you first called our name. God’s love is not a competition. Help us to remember that faith is always a gift, and that you are always, always calling us by name. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good News: The Steadfast Love of the Lord never changes, God’s mercies never come to the end, they are new every morning, so we know that God will always love and forgive us. Let us proclaim the Good News: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go into the world refreshed by the Holy Spirit and remembering that it is God who is calling us by name. God loves us from the earliest dawn til the darkest dusk–let us go forth enveloped in that love. Amen.
Hymns: Morning has Broken, This is My Father’s World, Here I am Lord,