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
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 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,
A child asks an average of 447 questions a day Be like a Child, Jesus says They are the greatest in heaven The wonderer The messy, giggling leap-before-they-lookers
So many churches mourn that they do not have children But I do not see them attending sports games or sponsoring tech and college scholarships I don’t see churches at school plays Why God?
If the kingdom of God is like childhood? Why isn’t the church full of coloring and children dancing down the aisles? If the Kingdom of Heaven is children?
I got in so much trouble, Jesus, you know, Because every time I got asked in an interview how I would bring in young families I would ask what the church was doing for the families…
Where do you children congregate, if you’re a congregation? I’d ask. Because if you’ve been on the floor with kiddos– I don’t have to tell you, that is truly heaven.
You don’t have to be the greatest to be with kids They don’t care if your are the best storyteller, or the most beautiful person in the room or if your the most famous I’ll let you in on a secret, when you spend time with them You are all of those things That is how to get to paradise
Instead of asking who is the greatest or how to get there, Jesus tells us to spend time with our children Not to ban books, not to change them to love them and be more like them
How about that ?
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Call to Worship We are called God as the children of God Come let us welcome eachother as the children of God God invites us to unburden ourselves Come, let us wonder at God together
(Optional Opening Hymn or Taize)
Reading of Scripture: Matthew 18:1-9
Confession of Sin: God we confess that we are caught up. We stumble. We want to be great, instead of having the questions or wonder or faith of a child. We get caught in our worldly things. Help us to let go of those things we do not be, and to be less weighed down. Teach us to be more like children we pray. Amen.
Silent Confession of Sins (We write ours down and burn them for the imposition of ashes, no water only oil is used and they are smoldered to be put out)
Imposition of Ashes
Assurance of Pardon: (based on Psalm 51) Hear the Good news, God judges us according to God’s lovingkindness and the multitudes of God’s tender mercies. Thus we can say in confidence: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Communion Prayer: (Based on Psalm 146) Jesus Christ is the one who brings all together, forgiving us into being, executing justice so that the hungry might have good thins to eat and the prisoner might be free. Jesus Christ came to open the eyes of the blind and to uphold the blind, the widow. Jesus watches over the Immigrant. This is the one who sets the feast for us, is it any wonder that he forgives our sins and reminds us that we are all human so that we might love and honor one another as children of God together? Come let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us together (The Lord’s Prayer)
Here’s a Prayer to the traumatized Savior Who no one, Not one disciple understood
Here’s a prayer to the mysterious Jesus Who was beyond ken who told stories and parables and riddles and answered questions with questions and ministered to the hurt behind the questions and only maybe, maybe answered 5 or 6
Because Jesus knew that ministry is not about answers But walking with people in their hurt and listening to their stories and sitting by the well waiting
Here’s a Prayer for the Jesus who saw people really saw them, and called them, each by their chosen name, and did not care if it was different than their birth name, what miracle
This is a prayer for Jesus who felt more at home with Lazarus Mary and Martha (or maybe there was just Mary and we conflated one woman into two?) and believed in found families and who had to retreat there when the crowds became overwhelming.
A prayer for the Savior who had to nap and escape to the middle of lakes and the tops of mountains. A prayer for the Savior who cursed fig trees and flipped tables and yelled at the hypocrites and screamed SHUT UP, when the waves got too scary. Here’s a prayer for Jesus, survivor of trauma, even before Even before they went on that hill to the cross And called misfits and the marginal to do the work with them: tax collectors, widows, outcasts and those with foot in mouth syndrome
Here’s a Prayer to Jesus–who said, look for me in the most unlikely places the immigrant, look for me on the edges of society. Do not worry about me getting you, Look for me among the lost sheep, the prodigal the poor, the hungry look for me among the imprisoned those who speak gibberish the sick those without power those without citizenship the queer ones the naked the children the lonely
This is a prayer for Jesus–who does not care about branding or power, or how many people are Christian, how many Christians we produce Christianity is not a product
Here’s a prayer for Jesus, Who is sitting with all of us after a worldwide pandemic from which we all hold grief and trauma and from which, I still haven’t shaped the right prayer So I’m sitting with Jesus–who knows what trauma is and is making the prayer with me.
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Call to Worship (Psalm 84) My soul longs for God My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God Even the sparrow finds a home, a swallow nests Happy are those who live in your house God Come let us find our strength in God Come let us worship the Lord
Call to Confession: Come let us find ourselves in God, through our confession
Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we do not always feel at home with you. We sometimes worry about that weeds, we feel choked by them, or we worry that we are the weeds. We feel parched by longing for you. Let us not worry if there is enough room, because there is enough room, for everybody. Help us to grow, thrive and nurture one another so that we all might know that our mustard seed of faith is enough we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: God loves us into being, God comforts us and God always forgives us, know the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God will give us the strength to keep singing our song, and will always welcome us home. Let us go forth confident that there is always enough room for everyone. Amen.
Hymns: His Eye is on the Sparrow, God of the Sparrow, There is a Wideness to God’s Mercy, Amazing Grace