Autumn

God,
Isn’t it funny
How every Autumn–
I get so exhausted
With all of the Injustice in the World

I hit a wall of Stuckness
And it compounds Everything!

And then I remember
that I have SAD
and so some of my weariness
is as natural as the seasons–

And I’m grateful to remember
That I’ll have the energy
to fight for justice and righteousness
again

Amazing what Sabbath
and Seasons
Can do for a woman
Isn’t it God?

Image https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRD_VeXN-cEtmjLAw4Qpu2aP2L3XdnQv1EZmw&usqp=CAU

Preparing to Be Away, a Prayer

God

I’m trying to look forward to all the things

But the list to get there is interminably long

And I find that I don’t have the energy to even look at the list much les complete it.

Yet the laundry, house, packing, paperwork and people all await my presence.

Is this when you took a nap Jesus? I love a Savior who knows the value of a good nap.

Am I tired because I need the energy to face things

Or

Am I tired because the things facing me need to get done before I can feel energized again?

Sometimes human existence is such a mystery God, you have to admit, you did not make us simple beings.

Anyway here’s praying what needs to get done will, and can wait will

And that you’ll give me the patience to know the difference.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Crummy Confession

Loving God

We confess that sometimes we aren’t sure how to relax, that sometimes it feels like a burden, or this thing we have to figure out. 

Or a reward that I can only receive after we have completed after we have done every single thing on the list. 

I also confess that when we feel crummy, and are given crumbs of Sabbath—that doesn’t help.

That too often Sabbath looks like this piecemeal, cobbled together, misshapenned monstrosity that happened throughout the day, or week, and so we aren’t sure if its good enough or counts, as if someone is grading the Sabbath—

when I know, deep, in my bones, 

that the abundance of Sabbath your promise is supposed to be a promise, not threat

and that you would never grade my rest-keeping

and that the point is to know my belovedness, and to relish myself, not to take a million bubble-baths or try to fix myself

You know, God, how I don’t give space for others to be free either–because I have all of this baggage, and its just, not good!

I confess I need all the help this Sabbath thing!

Forgive me God, For thinking that this Sabbath thing is all up to me.

Help us to find Sabbath

in better systems

in safer communities

and in ourselves we pray.

Amen.

Feel Free to Use/Adapt/Share with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

BURNEDOUT a prayer

This is a prayer for the BURNEDOUT

Because Loving mothering God, you know that they were ON FIRE 🔥

They did the work, they gave their all, they plugged in, they connected, they loved their job, their work & all they served

Every single breath of it.

Until one day, their oxygen suddenly gave out!

Sure they had been gasping for breath, and running on low fuel

But everything and everyone around them seemed to say just go farther and do more

And everything will be alright.

And so God this is a prayer for the BURNEDOUT

that every single one of them can claim their Sabbath

And rest, as God given, needful and right; without guilt or recrimination.

God grant them, and us Sanctuary and rest we pray.

Amen.

Sept 12 Creation by the Word

Living Into this God Given World: God Gives Creation

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

John 1:1-5

Psalm 33: 1-12

Call to Worship

God you created all the things

Combining the Light with the Darkness, the Sky and the Earth, the Water with the Land

God, you are not a God of singularities, but combinations, yielding all kinds of crops and animals and sunsets

And you saw that this was good.

Let us rejoice in the manifest glory of your creation today and everyday!

Let us praise God, mysterious, manifold and and always creating. Glory to our God, the creator!

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that sometimes we ignore the manifold of your creation. It is hard to imagine that you created so much that you needed to rest aftewards. It is hard for us to imagine that you hallowed every aspect of creation. It is hard to imagine that you designed the earth out of abundance so that every single being should have enough. We confess that we are very limited in our understanding of your creation. Forgive us, teach us to have a better understanding of your creation we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God promises God’s mercies are new every morning. Let us tell one another the good news today. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of Dedication/Day: God as you first shaped the world and breathed life into it, we ask for your continued inspiration and shaping. Grant us the gentle breeze of your your Holy Spirit, especially when we are weary and out of breath, to cool and inspire us. Continue to minister to us in your gentle way as we go into the world, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Children: Play with Legos, Cooties or some other interchangeable toys, discuss how many variations there are, discuss how God made so many varieties of the earth. Talk about the our human job to do science discover, create and name things with God as “Co-creators.” Read God Gave Us You.

Hymns: “Spirit” “This is My Father’s World” “God of the Sparrow” “Morning Has Broken”

More Narrative Lectionary Year 4 Fall Resources

(If you appreciate my work donations for my Creative Writing Doctorate in Ministry accepted for my GoFundMe here)

A Different kind of Rest

God, I wonder what it was like,

when David was king and pondered an enforced rest.

David, who had trauma in his family and then perpetuated trauma on his friend, and raped a woman.

David, who dealt with the physical pain of a sexually transmitted disease that roiled him for years.

God, how stretched was David, when he prayed for a rest that would not let him go.

When David harkened back to simpler times, and longed, not even to be a shepherd again, but to instead be the sheep.

David, reimagines rest as something to be protected, with a staff and a rod.

David sees true rest as being able to let go of his enemies, and eat and drink without having to worry about being attacked.

David, who was so privileged and powerful needed rest.

How much more do we need rest after the pandemic.

How much more do our Black and Brown siblings need the space to rest, and the time to reinvent what rest and rejuvenation looks like?

How much more do our queer siblings, need sabbath?

How much more do our beloved trans* individuals need sanctuary?

Hustling is not going to cut it anymore. You can’t out hustle a pandemic or trauma or racism or bigotry.

God, drive those who need to, down to the cool waters.

Chase them down with goodness and mercy.

And remind us, that Sabbath, like blessings, is not pie. There is enough to go around. We need to create space for rest with one another.

Help us to create a culture of Sabbath, I pray.

Amen.

Again I have to give theological credit to @TheNapMinistry and Nap Bishop Tricia Hersey for their continually revolutionary take on rest. https://linktr.ee/thenapministry

Please share/adapt/use with Theological Credit to “The Nap Ministry” writing credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Stealing Time

God, remind me to steal some time.

To look at the clouds

to be bored

to take the scenic route…

Tell me how it is ok if the house is messier than I’d like, that it’s good to claim the smaller victories of keeping everyone fed and (at least starting out) in clean clothes…

Remind me that Jesus stole time all the time!

Napping in the storm, snuggling a fig tree, sneaking off to a lake

When you lead me beside the (sort of) still waters of a small lake beach on a stolen afternoon, help me to embrace the experience.

When the power or internet is out and I’m forced to relax…

If the best I can muster in thought is half written sentences…

When time is given, as a gift, remind me that it isn’t stolen.

Remind me that Holy Spirit herself might be intervening.

Whisper to me that I am beloved. And that my worth is not based upon my productivity.

Image: Your Work is Not Measured by your Productivity

I’ll never forget my first year in full time ministry when there was a snowstorm every single Wednesday of November, forcing me to slowdown.

Sometimes, I need that reminder God.

And if I need to take the longer way to Jerusalem, if I need to mull and mutter and forge out some time to relax before I do the next hard thing, that is okay.

Remind me, God, that you built me, and all humans to be this way.

And that Jesus knew full well that breaks for food, laughter with friends, and time with family are essential to our humanity, and Jesus was indeed fully human.

Rest is essential, Sabbath is commanded, time is precious–let me live these truths in whatever way I can, I pray.

Amen

Image of Tweet Robin Thede: We all need to expect about forty percent less productivity from each other than normal and yet somehow everyone seems to expect one hundred and forty percent right now. Working at Proffitting WAP: Chile, they are thinking because we are working reotely that we do not nothing but time since we are sitting at home. However that push for productive is affecting our mental health because there’s no boundaries to decompress

Many thanks to the continuing inspiration of the Nap Ministry: https://thenapministry.wordpress.com/ (who you can also follow on twitter)

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

More Pandemic Prayers and Resources: Top Posts are “In an Abundance of Caution” “The Lord is My Shepherd: What kind of Sheep are You” and “Masks: A Prayer”

Holy Days & Sabbath

On the seventh Day, God decided to relieve the monotony and created Sabbath.

Have you read the studies where if there are no special or memorable days, time goes quickly? And humans remember less? Because human brains are not wired to do the same thing everyday.

How strange is that, if I were designing a creature, I would design it to do the same thing all the time.

And although we prefer a structure and not changing, in reality we do not thrive in this environment.

As evidenced by quarantine: where many are working without stopping and many are stopping without working.

So God created a different kind of day, a memorable day, a holy day.

When I’m stuck, and things seem overwhelming, sometimes I declare a random holiday, to help to bide the time. I will stop everything and turn my focus to crafts or baking or reading a (gasp) new book.

My mom has been marking the silly holidays (Bugs Bunny Day, Hoagie Day, Missing Sock Day), and it has been brightening our otherwise monotonous time.

In Middle Ages the church acted as Union insofar as they declared many, many holidays to give people appropriate rest. 12 days at Christmas, every Sunday and 7 weeks after Easter, plus weddings and funerals. They sometimes would have as much as a half a year off.

The creation of Holy Days and Holy Times is part of who God is, it’s a part of who we are. How are we blessing the ordinary days? What makes things Holy today?

May you find Sabbath, and rest!

Culturenik Doctor Who Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Quote Tardis Blue Illustration Sci Fi British TV Television Show Print (Unframed 12x24 Poster)

 

Kids & Church

I grew up in the church…as a pastor’s daughter….I go to church now as a pastor, but my siblings don’t ..but they might someday, who knows? I don’t think it was about whether they were in or out of church service, I think its about their beliefs and the problem of they aren’t sure how they feel and the church makes it out like “you shouldn’t go to church unless you believe/act/do exactly what we want”

I feel like that may be the answer for them, but for different people, the reasons are different.

Two blogs about children surfaced this week Sunday School is killing the church (which is really about the timing of Sunday School, altho the title makes our poor underpaid youth pastors even worse off)

and The Church Should Be the Thing that Backs Down

Both of these blogs actually are trying to address a larger issue

Which is Families are CRAZY busy!

 

I mean seriously, a parent used to stay at home with the children, one working person households used to be totally feasible, plus kids had more free time. Primary socialization for families (I mean the entire family , the parents and the children) used to happen at church.

Unless we change the economy (are you helping by justly paying your church workers? or asking them to only work the hrs they are paid for? If not your church is PART OF THE VERY PROBLEM YOUR COMPLAINING ABOUT) …….we need to look deeper.

Let me tell you something, almost every stay at home parent is one because they can’t get a job that will actually contribute to the family monetarily….i.e. childcare, work clothes, gas, etc. eats all their pay

Almost every person I know is being told to work harder (put in more hrs, be more available, don’t complain about anything ever) in their job (or risk losing it) with almost no prospects of moving up

Almost every person I know with children has more demands for homework and time than ever before…plus you are never supposed to let your child play out of your sight ever again (assuming you are a middle or upper class parent) because that is “bad parenting”

Want to know why parents put their kids in babysitting/Sunday School during church? They need a break

Some parents even send their children to Sunday School and don’t even bother going to church themselves (gee…what need is that signaling) More than once I’ve heard of a church with a “problem” with it being just used as a free babysitting service.

Why is it those activities that happen not on Sunday Morning are rarely attended by kids? Usually parents have some other activity they have to attend, like sports or family time or other things (I would say “How dare they” but I don’t think everyone would hear my sarcasm)

Its tough to be a family…

And the church offers very few family resources…almost nothing to parents about parenting, few things where the entire family will ENJOY the activity (note letting children come to something IS NOT the same thing as welcoming them)

Plus most church meetings are over bedtime, which makes it really hard for a parent to come unless they pay a babysitter…even onsite care won’t help to defeat bedtime. (as my colleague Ryan Timpte says)

Deeper issues

1. Families are busy

2. We treat children as a commodity

3. Families are rarely given truly family appropriate activities to join

4. Parents are tired

5. The Weekend doesn’t exist for most people (Saturday used to be a day off too, rarely is it)

Can we reclaim Sabbath? (do we know what that means to different people and how to build that?)

Can we work with families?

Can we support parents?

Can we help the economy and idea of overwork–even if its just in our own church environment?

Can we address these problems as opportunities….because until we do, we will continue to make claims of “such and such” killing the church. And as Katie Bombalurina Mulligan said

1. We are a resurrection people, so death is not an existential crisis for us or our institutions (easier said than realized, but yeah)

2. No one thing is “killing” the church

3. The church isn’t actually something that can die. It’s an institution that might end, but the people inside are what is living.

4. The articles are written with lazy generalizations (this too is a lazy generalization. back atcha).

5. There are so many different forms and ways of doing church. if you feel yours is unfaithful, go try some more ways. and then some more.

6. If we’re going to animate the church as a living entity, then the church is supposed to die, because nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky (~Kansas. or Ecclesiastes. Take your pick. Also, that rhymed.)“

Something to SERIOUSLY consider when discussing “those cutesy beings who are the future of the church”

or as I prefer to think of them “These children of God who have so much to contribute”

Holy Complaining Batman @unvirtuousAbbey

And so, God gave us complaining. As we look at the Hebrews in the desert, we notice they do a lot of complaining. Here they are, stuck in the desert, and they are hungry. So they complain, they grumble, they mummer, they complain. They realize that they are truly on their own now, they are free (through God), and in that freedom they are responsible, so they start to complain, they cast blame on their leaders Aaron and Moses (which, as Moses points out, means they are really blaming God)…

There are two kinds of complaining in the world. The overwhelming negative complaining……and then there’s the kind of complaining that bonds us together, the kind that makes us feel like a family.

When I was in College, my second week of Freshwoman year was 9/11. Through it I found lifetime friendships, and from that suffering we embraced one another, had giant sleepovers (because we couldn’t sleep in our parents room even though that’s what we wanted to do), and gave out hugs freely. This was my first, and best interaction at Oberlin. Immediately my friends and I’s motto started to be “always room for one more” causing us to continually scoot back and open up our table to the outsiders…and it mostly remained our motto (even for those who were so socially inept they had trouble even among us nerds and dweebs, although granted, THAT was difficult)

This kind of suffering bonded us together, because we walked with each other and felt some measure of the same horror that the other felt.

When my sister was joining a sorority, I was partially fascinated and partially horrified, here these kids were, afflicting one another so that the new group could “bond” thru shared suffering. That is how powerful suffering was..(my sister started to stir rebellious talks of decency and rights and never did make the soriority).

Its scary, but it also shows us how God utilizes complaining to ease our suffering and bond us together. I believe that God does not cause our suffering, I believe there is REAL and present evil at work, but I believe God suffers with us. I believe that she gave us Christ to witness, endure and walk with us in that suffering, and I believe that complaining can be a way to bind our concerns.

So when the Hebrews Complain, their surface complaint is that they are hungry, their real complaint is that they are free, that they are concerned, that they are facing the unknown and that they feel like no one is with us….

This shared experience, the whole community grumbled… is exactly what makes them not alone in the world. Because they are all complaining about the same thing, they start to coalesce , coming together as a true community and group–not one that is just universally oppressed, as they were in Egypt, but as a community that has to work together to survive and thrive, one that has to practice cooperation and trust (Truly this is why church is so important)

This is why Grumpy Cat is so popular, because he is voicing complaints that different communities can relate to! (in a caustic and snarky way), but that kind of complaining becomes confessional–we think hey, I feel like that too!

That is why we have Confession, that is why we have Joy and Concerns, because God gives us the opportunity to Open our Mouths, to admit when we feel like we are running on empty, that we are malnourished, and yet burdened, that we are expected to take on heavy loads, when we are at our limit.

And then, God does what we don’t expect.

God doesn’t condemn our complaining, mark it as sin, and then wash our mouths out with soap for our disrespect.

Instead he fills our mouths with food, so that we can’t complain. He fills our mouths with bread (living eternal bread through the communion with Jesus Christ), and meat, he fills our mouths with praise, giving us a chance to complain, helping us to come together as a community through that shared experience, and then gifting us with enough nourishment to sustain that community.

So come to church, complain (some), and share in each other’s crevices, so that they become not the cracks that make us fall apart, but instead the edges on which we grow!

PS for some Good Holy Complaining follow @unvirtuousAbbey on Twitter

Exodus 16:2-5

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

John 6: 30-33, 41-42

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[c]

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heavenand gives life to the world.”

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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