And I don’t think it’s the 12 minutes of yoga I did last night. I think it’s years of stress.
Years of permission giving to racists, bigots and white supremacists, years of Christians defending heinous actions, years of children being separated from their parents, lgbtqia abuse and state violence against black and brown people.
And a year of a pandemic.
Makes me rethink those stiff necked people in the Bible God. Those who you confront.
Full Confession Jesus: I did not know that I was a stiff necked person. Though I am in good company with Hebrews in the desert, who time and time again were too obstinate and stubborn to listen.
What have I been unable to hear these last 4, 5, 6 years? As I tensed my shoulder blades and endured many headaches, where was I stubborn (in ways I did not realize) to survive.
It is a relief to let go a little bit, to roll my neck a little bit, to confess a little bit and to loosen my soul a little bit.
So here is a little bit of a hallelujah–as I watch the snow swirl and listen to music.
A little piece of hallelujah that you have opened things up, and that the yoke of life rests easier today.
Thank you, alleluia, Amen.
Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
because I don’t even know what my ducks are anymore.
How do I prioritize when everything is important? How do I do self care when my hours are chunked in weird ways and the schedule remains nebulous and to the wind.
Even when I breathe sighs of relief, or take moments of joy…I know that the ducks are waiting.
Sometimes they quack at me in the middle of the night, awakening me with all the things I’ve forgotten, or all the problems I’m not sure how to solve.
Lord knows, (that’s you God) that I don’t have my ducks in a row.
My work is never perfect no matter how much I try, my kids need more attention than ever (not to mention socialization) and I can’t seem to find a minute for myself.
Plus everything is different, still! Again! Always!
And ignoring the fact we can’t keep the house clean anymore isn’t really working either.
Are these even the duckies I should be worried about? What ducks am I missing? I’m sure I’m missing some, somewhere.
And I wonder if this is how Jesus felt, as he was chasing down that Wild Goose of the Holy Spirit.
Did he look around at the ducks and said, one of these is the goose, but I just can’t find the one I’m supposed to chase down and catch first.
But maybe, hopefully, the chase is enough. Hopefully between the chasing and the quacking, I have a moment to reflect on what I have completed, or what has gone right.
Or perhaps I will give myself one of those adulting prizes: for sleeping or eating or drinking water or moving around or taking medication. Those all count as important things done.
God, maybe my ducks have never been in a row–after all they are all your ducks and geese anyway. But help me to organize myself in such a way that I can let go of the ducks I can let go of and chase the right things to pursue the Holy Spirit of inspiration, comfort, energy and hope.
Maybe it isn’t about ducks at all, maybe it’s really about the Wild Goose of the Holy Spirit. Remind me to chase down the Wild Goose, and that this Wild Goose Chase is surely worth it.
God will help us to flourish, even at such a time that we don’t know where our ducks are.
Remind us of this we pray. Amen.
Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy
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Let, the enemies of God be scattered, but let the righteous be joyful.
As smoke is driven away, wickedness perishes before God. God who created us and called us good.
Let us exult before God, let us be jubilant with Joy.
Call to Worship
Let God rise up. Can you hear the voice of God?
It is in the still, small voice of a prophet, the quiet crackle of the fire, the joyous shrieks of children.
When the world mutters and murmurs, calling on other things for help, let us call on you.
Because you alone are God, Let us worship you today.
Call to Worship
Do not limp with different opinions
If the Lord is your God, then call on God!
Remember the God who answers by fire is indeed God.
Light us up with the fire of the Holy Spirit we pray.
Call to Confession: When we are out of fuel and drowned in sorrow, this is the time to share the burden with Christ, so that he can remind us of who we serve and give us the energy to do it.
Prayer of Confession:
God who whispers in our heart of hearts, I confess that I cannot hear your voice over the mutters and cries of help. The world is full of the noise of injustice, and I have forgotten to seek your still, small voice. Speak to the embers of justice in my heart, and light me on fire to be a troublemaker for you I pray
Prayer of Confession: Lord, we confess that we are divided, we don’t want to upset anyone so we don’t express our opinions. We find we limp with two different opinions instead of seeking justice. We are too quiet in the face of injustice. Give us the spark within so that we can be inflamed with justice and goodness. Help us to act for justice for one another we pray.
Prayer of Dedication/the Day: O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.
Assurance of Pardon: The fire of the Holy Spirit never goes out. It is always inspiring us, energizing us and refueling us through the power of grace. The Holy Spirit tells the truth to our hearts: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.
With Kids: This Little Light of Mine, Light candles and talk about fuel and the Holy Spirit (bonus if your are near all Hallow’s Eve/Halloween), Build a pretend Campfire. Play Whisper down the Lane: Talk about how hard communication is and how hard it is to listen for God, Practice Noise vs. Celebration: Talk about how we humans confuse the two, Invisible vs. Visible Church: Discuss the power of a cloud of witnesses vs a noisy here and now crowd, Practice Prayer: Discuss how Prayer is not a magic spell but feeding the fire/connection with God
This is basically a status update on my Church’s Won’t You Be Our Neighbor Program:
My church is in transition from Family Size to Pastoral Size
In short we are going from teensy-weensy to tiny sized congregation
and our farmer’s market has 100 people more a week averaging at about 350 ppl a week
Let there be wild rejoicing
But….its work. We are going to have to stretch and grow with these changes. I’m going to have to pray about how better to connect spiritually to the community, I need to discern how to provide the support that my (now overworked) volunteers need.
I compared it on Sunday to the cup that God promises us to be overflowing. Have you ever tried to drink out of a cup that is filled to the tippy-top? Its tricky and messy….but important
I think we are going to do it. We are going to be a church that is an actual community center.
So…the thing about drunkenness is that its abundance, right?
Its too much…
15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.–Eph 5:18 (for a little bit about how we want to fill ourselves with other things note This Everyday Holydiscussion I participated in)
My congregation had a very Holy Spirit moment one yr at a Chicken BBQ, I can’t remember what number it was, but we ordered only about 200 chickens and they were gone, in like an hr flat. And there was much panic about how few were left at the end, and how were we going to keep track and how we were going to send ppl away.
And many, many ppl who wanted to get chicken went home sad.
And we were sad for them.
And I think this is how it feels to be filled with the Holy Spirit, when the good of the situation is COMPLETELY out of control. Like, you know, in Acts when all the disciples were speaking in tongues and suddenly everyone wanted to convert. I imagine Chicken and the Bible still resulted in CRAZY GOODNESS.
I am sensing this conflict rising now, its hard not to take on “too much” in the congregation. The question has changed from “What if we fail?” to “What if we succeed”
That’s right, we are literally afraid that we will be overwelmed, that we will have too much of a good thing.
I guess that trusting in God is trusting that there will be enough room for all the people who want to come to your Farmer’s Market/exercise class/back to school celebration thing that some people crazily wants to do. (that’s me, I’m definitely in the crazy corner).
I never thought of it before but there are too reasons not to do something, bc it might succeed, or it might fail.
But we take on too much, we are overflowing, thats when we grow.
Poor Holy Spirit, no one wants to drink of you, because when we do we change, it is by far the most bombastic member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes you blurt out the truth in sticky situations, to cheer out loud whether its appropriate or not, to make you offer something of yourself that your weren’t planning/didn’t even know you had to offer.
But that’s what makes her so good.
Now imagine that we got drunk on that!
(Ps I recommend Mann’s Book The In-Between Church for congregations that are subconsciously dealing with fears of growth)
1st of all pastors tend to run double whatever number of services they run Christmastime during Holy Week: I’m at the bare minimum of 3 (4 if you count Palm Sunday)
Plus, usually, my kids are off that same week, so I get to gesticulate around that and the fact its a superbusy time of year.
Plus, people volunteer to do things less–Christmas is just more of a pitch in holiday. How many people really want to help out with the Good Friday Service (altho we do a service of the nails that is poignant and beautiful)
Its a crazy week for me I have two parishoners in the hospital/recovery, plus the other 4 homebound who I would like to see during this Holy Time, plus a session meeting to make certain things are in place, plus an all day Persbytery meeting (which they always schedule the week before Holy Week, which always leaves me scratching my head), plus whatever other office-y stuff I need to do.
Then there is real life. The things that happen that make you a pastor, the things that aren’t on the calendar.
My colleague Sarah Ross said “In minstry, I don’t really plan a schedule so much as I just plan to be interrupted.”
Nadia Bolz-Weber once had an intern who shadowed her. At the end he said ” it was “oh my gosh..you’re A PERSON for a living!””
So, interruptions and being a person are my goals for the next two weeks…God sanctifies them and makes them holy
We are listening to the immeasurable Diana Butler Bass who is greatly illustrating her theories on church and culture, when the news breaks on twitter a little before 7:30 (she started at 7).
Its a amazing, its wonderful.
I text the news to my parents.
I can’t believe it.
Twitter is going crazy.
The real question is Can we interrupt Diana Butler Bass?
7:28 pm @miheekimkort suggests “@revJohnRussell at 7:30 lets stand up and scream”
I tweet @bookkats “Feel the pcusa urge to stand up and proclaim the good news even tho its rude to interrupt awesome DBB” at about the same time
I wait for 7:30, sure someone will do it…
THREE agonizing Holy Spirit Bubbling minutes later (7:31) I realize no one has….
Then she talked about the fourth awakening, and its true realization (as in any realization) is when social justice comes into play, so I’m like “Ok, and now she’s talking social justice. Holy Spirit help my extrovert.”
I am totally bursting with the news. This is good news! This is my job to tell good news, and I have REALLY GOOD NEWS, and texting my parents isn’t going to do it!
@jledmiston says Can someone ask Q@dianabutlerbass for a brief space to acknowledg the PCUSA’s big news?
We were awaiting authority, in Nextchurch, which I love to define as the organic and hands on ideas of what is next for the church …irony….
So I’m like, maybe a quiet way is better (I guess I’m getting better at practicing some restraint) I Tweet “Stand up and hold up your phone maybe?”
This is the time, I realize, Diana Butler Bass is talking about the no going back change, the revival at the point ofsocial justice: what a moment to tell the news!
Meanwhile I hear rustle, rustle, rustle, everyone is looking at their phones
@mollyfid nails it on the head “Y’all, I”m about to Burst! UNfreeze yourselves presbys! Surely DBB will pause for a cheer”
Then I realize…I’m in the balcony, I’m in the first row. This is totally not awkward (I mean heck I’d love to do it from the most awkward and silliest position ever)….I’m the extrovert.
Oh my God….its me…I’m the one who is called into this place at this time to do this….its me, and I’m going to LOVE it
I stand up and (rather timidly) raise my hand. “Excuse me Diana….Sorry to interrupt, but we are just bursting here. We just passed 14F, all people can marry”
And I see it……from the balcony, everyone stands up and hugs and cheers in an almost disordered fashion….
It was beautiful, it was holy
my sister is trans…
I burst into tears
Diana Butler Bass asked my name and then said “The Episcopalians welcome you” 🙂
The amazing moment when God uses my no-hold-barred extroverted self who happened to sit in the front of the balcony at that moment…on the day when Brian preached about acceptance in the morning in the evening where the Presbyterian Light people were already planning their reception.
What do you call that but holy?
And then, we listened as best we can to Diana, hearing all the better her critiques because we were in a better place as church (claim the entire denom has failed, no problem : )
And then, we went and did church! The planned 80 people who went to the Presby Light & Covenant Network Joint reception were way…way…more….
Too many Presbyterians, after a long day, did church that night at a bar.
We have become a fuller church, how can we include people next, is Belhar Confession around the corner?
We did church, then and there with loud music and too many Presbyterians and drinks and food…
Credo is a great program started by Episcopalians and picked up by the Presbyterians to help with clergy health and welfare (emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, financial). Its a process to work, worship and create so that a rule of life can be developed.
This year the Presbyterians are running the first ever early ministry model. (Previously it was only available to mid-career). I was lucky enough to be pulled randomly from the hat to attend. Its a support network to help what is now the overworked life of the clergy today.
I would say, for me, the process was a success. We shall see how the rule of life plays out and whether I can use the accountability tools helpfully.
Here are some interesting things that emerged for me….
1. Many of the pastors there were wishing to start a new church somewhere…
Which makes me wonder, what is that about? Are we prophets of the future? Are we wishing for a system with more pull? Is this what revolutions look like? Or is this how we manufacture hope? What is at the root of this and how does it effect the church in general as we go forward.
2. I also heard that a lot of people wanted to write, really write something, either through a blog or a publication or something. Recently I read a blog (I wish I could find it again) about the fact that pastors are writers who get paid
I personally feel that is true, I write sermons like I wrote my English/History papers (which I double majored in). Writing papers every week in undergrad was a good warm up to solo preaching.
So as we look forward, and as CREDO happens next year, I wonder, what can we do with these amazing revelations.
Small Church, New Church, Old Church, Blue Church–the clergy seems to be moving in a similar direction
Especially considering that us Presbyterians believe the Holy Spirit works by consensus 😉