Saturday, October 31, 2009

Now Thank We All Our God

This was on my mind as I prayed for a very ill family member this morning...

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

According to the Oremus Hymnal:

Words: Mar­tin Rink­art, cir­ca 1636 (Nun dank­et al­le Gott); first ap­peared in Prax­is Pi­e­ta­tis Mel­i­ca, by Jo­hann Crü­ger (Ber­lin, Ger­ma­ny: 1647); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Ca­ther­ine Wink­worth, 1856.

Music: Nun Dank­et, at­trib­ut­ed to Jo­hann Crü­ger, 1647; har­mo­ny by Fe­lix Men­dels­sohn, 1840 (MI­DI, score). Though the tune is found Crü­ger’s Prax­is Pi­e­ta­tis Mel­i­ca, and is at­trib­ut­ed to Crü­ger, Ca­ther­ine Wink­worth be­lieved Mar­tin Rink­art wrote the tune in 1644.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday FIve: Lifesaver Edition

KathrynZJ is in the groove for an upcoming retreat with other RevGalBlogPals. She writes:

In honor of BE Three I thought I'd offer up a Friday Five of lifesavers. I'm going on our cruise (are you?) because I am excited about meeting up with my blogging buddies again, I am interested in the speaker and because when I went on the first one my life was saved (okay, that may be a little over-dramatized but if you saw me getting on the boat and then the difference when getting off the boat you would know of what I speak).

I don't expect - or need - another life saving moment but I want to support the conference.

Of course lifesavers can come in all sizes and with far less drama. I would readily admit that I have considered a person (children's sermon substitute), the location of a bathroom, and a beverage (the last diet coke in the back of the fridge - score!) all to be lifesavers at one point or another.

And so today I ask you - dramatic or fairly common - what have been/are your lifesavers:

(If it helps, try the phrase 'life giving' instead.)

1) Your lifesaving food/beverage.
Coffee and chocolate. Sometimes, together!

2) Your lifesaving article of clothing.
Jeans and Birkies. Sometimes, together!

3) Your lifesaving movie/book/tv show/music.
Hard one. I love too many books. CS Lewis, of course. Star Trek IV because I know most of the lines. And the plot is so dumb... (whales? really?) LOTR books and movies. (I can ignore the glaring inconsistencies and an elf who looks like a Barbie doll.)

4) Your lifesaving friend.
Geez. Hard to choose. The prayer posse. My beloved bearded spouse, My family.

5) Your lifesaving moment.
A fall evening, after graduating from college, when I had to answer the question for myself: "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8). It began a journey, twisted and convoluted as it is, to the pastorate. I'm sure my college drinking buddies didn't see it coming. I didn't either.

BONUS: Music to live by: "Step by Step" performed by Michael W. Smith and written by Rich Mullins.

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And Step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Morning prayers

For the things which weigh us down...
Give us perspective and peace.

For the worries that press in on our thoughts...
Give us confidence that You are in control.

For the joys that light up our lives...
Give us thankfulness.

For the decisions we have to make...
Give us wisdom and clarity.

For the commitments we have chosen to make...
Give us energy to follow through.

For the unloveliest moments and people in our lives...
Give us Your Holy Spirit, full of love and grace.

For the unanswered questions...
Give us discernment as to Your timing, as well as Your answer!

For our achievements and celebrations...
Give us humility and remind us that You blessed us.

And for all the other things I have forgotten to pray about this morning...
I give them up to You now.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Church of Her Own

Over at RevGals this week there was a book discussion on Sarah Sentilles "A Church of Her Own." Not surprisingly, there were some pretty passionate responses. I understand where this emotion and frustration comes from, but I found Sentilles' work a bit over-the-top.

I am definitely among those who have seen the prejudice against women as leaders and pastors in larger evangelical churches. I'm in the nondenominational side of church life, more towards the conservative side (though I am proud to wear the label "progressive"!!) What I have seen is that in many of these churches, that the men are in positions which are "pastoral" and the women are in positions which are "directors" or "administrators" -- even though they are teaching, leading and caring for teams of volunteers, children, etc. Makes. me. nuts.

I am working very hard with my spiritual director to name prejudice for what it is, and then to proclaim God's forgiveness for my attitudes, and to extend God's forgiveness towards others. I guess I would like to see a more reconciling spirit in this book. Lord willing, perhaps my journey in this arena will be in a book which is written in that Spirit. It seems unnecessary to paint all churches and all male clergy with the same brush. It smacks of reverse discrimination.

On the positive side, here is something that I do agree with in her book: from Chapter Six on Language, page 129

"Seeing a woman in the pulpit not only brings us up against our implicit or explicit assumptions about the categories "minister" and "woman," it also challenges how we think about God."
further down...
"Most liturgical language refers to God as male - God is called 'He," "lord," "Father," "King" - and prayers in many churches use the pronoun "he" or the words "man" or mankind" to refer to human beings. When pressed proponents of this kind of male-only, exclusive language insist that "men" is a generic, gender-neutral term. ...Insisting that "men" means everyone is a kind of double-talk: "Men" means all of us, but only men can get ordained."
~ o ~

These quotes are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a problem with gender-inclusive language in some corners simply because God was always imaged as male to the patriarchal society. So what was historical context must continue as present-day context? I don't think so! That is simply bad hermeneutics! Sentilles does, to her credit, discuss some of the alternative namings of God but admits that liturgically that pesky ol' pronoun problem keeps creeping up.

One of the issues we wrestled with in Systematic Theology class was the issue of using the roles of God as names limits the infinity of God (God is not just Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer but is also Judge, Renewer, Savior, etc etc). We get into ontological problems in our desire to escape the limits of the English language.

As Sentilles points out, referring to God in male-only language has stifled the perceptions of us all in accepting that a woman can speak to/for God. In discussing this with my college student and her peers, this has become a bigger issue that I think we understand. They are not willing to tolerate invisibility or bias any more... I do pray that her generation will not be wrestling with the battles of insecurity and poor exegesis!

I'm choosing to stand firm, think positively for my daughters' generation, and to model acceptance and grace.


Dare I blog??

I was just cyberhopping to other RevGal blogs (like Cheesehead and GodGurrll and my usual blog-stalking places.) Cheesehead commented that she had been blogging less and less, getting caught up in other time sinkholes like Twitter and Facebook.

Yeah. Me too.

However, I also know that as I get closer and closer to graduation, interviews, and a "real" job, that I am sometimes hesitant to blog about the stuff that is on my heart. My blog is connected to my Facebook page and my LinkedIn account. What if people read my opinions and didn't like me and wouldn't hire me? It was a puzzle.

However, being a woman of strong opinions (gosh. really?) it seems to me that it would be better to be honest in cyberspace, if somewhat self-editing, rather than present such a disinfected view of who I am and what I'm thinking that I am hired for a spot where I do not really "fit." I've never been very good at pokerface anyway. At the same time, I would like to season my words with grace and love.

I'm trying to get in mode to blog for Advent, looking for a theme or a focus to wrap my posts around. I'm open to suggestions...


Monday, October 26, 2009

It is hard to believe that this happened in 2009...

A woman who is being installed as the pastor of a local church received a smack-down letter from another pastor in her town. (She is ELCA, he is Baptist.) The outright prejudice and gall of the other pastor is, well, appalling.

And I will just let you read it... here.

If you are so inclined, please leave her a love note. And pray that we will all live out Christ's command...

"A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 13:34-35

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some Thoughts on Doing My Civic Duty

About four years ago, I received a jury summons in the mail. It was a regular summons for the County Circuit Court, usually meaning "one day or one trial."

I admit it. I complained. I grumbled. I whined. I tried to figure out how to get excused. To be "un-selectable."

In the middle of my pity party, I mentioned to a neighbor how I wished I didn't "have" to serve. I mused out loud, "I wonder how I can get out of it??"

Her response stopped my complaining... She said, "well, I hope if you ever need jury trial, you get people who are better Christians than you. Aren't you supposed to be all about serving your fellow man?"

Ouch. Yeah. What about that? If I am going to claim some high moral ground on other issues relating to the law, shouldn't I be willing to act in the best interests of others? Wouldn't this be a "render unto Caesar" issue? It was pretty convicting.

Sooo... I made arrangements for my kids to be picked up by another parent from school, in case I was chosen. I packed a lunch. I put a book in my tote bag. And I went... and sat all day, doing nothing but waiting.

I realize as I write this that my regular jury summons should be coming up soon again. Lord willing it won't be the week I need to finish a paper. But if it is, and if I'm selected, I'll try to serve with integrity and honesty.


Reformation Sunday Hymn

I somehow do not think that Martin Luther envisioned being remembered in song... (Hat tip to Ralph Hamilton!)

(to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman”)

Martin the German was a sorry, mixed up soul,
‘Cause he thought it odd that a loving God
Would condemn him straight to hell.

Martin the German even took a sacred vow
When a lightning strike nearly took his life
But St. Anne stepped in somehow.

It must have seemed like magic when
Old Habakkuk he found,
‘Cause when he read God saves by faith
He began to dance around.

O, Martin the German felt reborn again that day,
And he spread the word from old Wittenberg
All the way to Rome, they say.

Thumpitty thump thump, thumpitty thump thump,
Nail them to the door;
Thumpitty thump thump, thumpitty thump thump,
Hear those Theses roar!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Five: Our Favorite Music

Songbird of RevGalBlogPals writes:

When I was a very little girl growing up in Virginia, I never missed a Sunday going to Court Street Baptist Church. But there was something else that made Sundays special, and that was "Davey and Goliath." Every week the opening strains of the theme song would find me lying on the floor, chin on hands, looking up expectantly to watch the adventures of a clay boy and his big dog. What I didn't realize was who wrote that music, the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

It was the same Martin Luther who said:
"I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity, arrogance, and the like. Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor."

On this Friday before Reformation Sunday, let's talk about music. Share with us five pieces of music that draw you closer to the Divine, that elevate your mood or take you to your happy place. They might be sung or instrumental, ancient or modern, sacred or popular...whatever touches you.

I'm at school at Whoopin Divinity this week, finishing up research and trying to get that last bit of work in before I head home in the morning. My list is pretty eclectic... (just warning you...) so hang onto your hats... Where I could find a video I liked, I've linked you to it. These are NOT in any order of "favorites" because they are so different I couldn't pick an order!!!

Favorite Piano Piece:
All Chopin Nocturnes (can't pick one, really, but here's a recording of Op.9#2 in Eb as performed by Artur Rubenstein)

Favorite Choral Piece:
O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen (I can't find a video I like, so here's his website.)

Favorite Contemporary Christian Song: (for the moment, anyway!)
Perfect Peace by Laura Story (an adequate video is here...)

Toccata, from the Organ Symphony by Charles-Marie Widor

This piece is often snorted at as a "show piece" but I love it's celebratory nature. And I have a special love for it since we recessed to it on our wedding day! Here's a video from an Easter at the Washington National Cathedral.

My HAPPY music:
Where the Streets Have No Name by U2

Back to the books... One more night of writing and research and then home!!!!!!!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back in the trenches..

I enjoy modular week and I don't. Modular week is when I am on campus for a week of classes, meetings, fun and fellowship. The last two are important, but take second place to all of the work that we have to do to get our work in on time.

This week I am taking a preaching class, which means I will give two student sermons. Both sermons are NOT in good shape. I have outlines, ideas and not much more. This is NOT a class where you wing it. I need to be prepared.

SOooo I'm going to spend some more time on my first sermon this evening and enjoy the uninterrupted study time.

Back to the trenches...


Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Five: On Your Feet

Jan from RevGalBlogPals writes:

Too often the Friday Fives I offer up seem extremely introspective, so here's something that could be fun. I notice as I finish my sixth decade that my taste in footwear is much different than when I was younger, as comfort wins out over fashion. So look at your feet and think about what you put on them!

1. What is your favorite footwear at this time in your life?
One of my pairs of ROCKETDOGStm because the are cute, kickin and comfortable. They are also flats.

2. What was the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal you ever wore?
Probably a pair of bright green 4 inch heels for a Halloween costume in college. I was a "sprout" and the guy I was dating was a Jolly Green Giant. Even with the heels I didn't come up to his shoulder (and I'm 5'8"!)

3. What kind of shoes did you wear in your childhood?
Keds, saddle shoes, flipflops (though back in the day, we called them "thongs"!)

4. How do you feel most comfortable? Barefoot, flip-flops, boots, or what?

Barefoot or slippers.

5. What kind of socks do you like, if any?

Oh dear. We are getting into "sock season" aren't we? I don't want to think about that...

Bonus: Anything you want to share about feet or footwear.
When I needed to go shopping for PREECHER WOMAN shoes for the first time, I took a committee of my 2 teen daughters and my good friend Susan. From thence came the "Ugly Shoe Contest" which we have continued every time we go to D*W....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Many of you know that daughter #1, aka The Johnnie spent time last summer at an orphanage in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It was her third trip (third summer mission trip) in a row. This year, like every previous year, she came back with stories and thoughtful reflections on the kids and her experiences... Some of you supported her financially, some of you prayed, and we really appreciate your investment! Ministry is a shared task, even for a high school student going to love on kids in Mexico.

Here's the celebration video that reminds us that love is something that continues and is continually needed... (If the video won't load in Blogger, you can see it HERE as well...



Monday, October 12, 2009

Comments now being moderated

After two rude comments, two posts in a row, and an increase in the 'buy my supplement' type of comments, I am moving my comments back to moderation.

Sorry for the inconvenience...


Sunday, October 11, 2009

walking and waiting...

I have two friends who are going through difficult walks in the "valley" right now. My sadness for them is incredible...

I don't have wise words, just a full heart.

There were many words said to me over the course of my dad's passing away, but the one piece of advice that someone gave me helped... simply put, it was "take your grief in small chunks... pray, share, and when you can't talk about it any more, turn on music that encourages you."

for my friends, and maybe even, for you, as you read this...
here's some music that speaks comfort to my heart.


Perfect Peace
by Laura Story

stay close by My side
keep your eyes on Me
though this life is hard
I will give you perfect peace

in this time of trial
pain that no one sees
trust me when I say
I will give you perfect peace

and you'll never walk alone
and you'll never be in need
though I may not calm the storms around you
you can hide in Me...

burdens that you bear
offer no relief
let Me bear your load
cause I will give you perfect peace

stay close by My side
and you'll never walk alone
keep your eyes on Me
and you will never be in need
though this life is hard
know that I will always give you perfect peace
I will give you perfect peace

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Five: Special Moments

Sophia from RevGalBlogPals writes an introduction to this week's Friday Five:

This has me thinking of the special rites of passage in our lives which we participate for ourselves or in which we support and bless others: baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, graduation, funerals, etc. Such important days, so exciting and joyous, but also sometimes anxiety provoking or deeply painful....So, this week, please share five memories of such sacred moments with God and the holy people from your life and the lives of those you love.

1. Baby Dedications: Both of our girls were "dedicated" as infants because the church we were attending did not baptize infants. Both times a set of grandparents were present to celebrate and cherish the moment. And both times, the girls wore the christening gown of their great-grandfather! I don't have those photos scanned, but it was a remarkable moment for me of feeling rooted and grounded in my faith.

2. Baptisms: Both of our girls were baptized in their preteen years. The date and time were their choosing. Public professions of faith are important moments for all of us, whether it is baptism, confirmation, or repeating a creed.

3. Graduation: I've posted on The Johnnie's recent graduation and beginnings at St. John's College of Maryland. She's thriving and happy, and it's all good.

4. Ordination: I was surprised by the touch of God on my heart at my ordination. It was not just that it was celebrated with family and good friends, but that there was indeed a Spirit of affirmation given to me by God. As I go through various issues and struggles in living out my Call, it is something that I look back at and marvel in that strong sign of God's anointing.

5. Weddings, Funerals, Concerts and "Life Events" of various kinds: It's the ups and downs of real life that remind me I am here for the people I love "for the long haul." Celebrating new babies, tender good-byes, musical joys (and the occasional clam!), anniversaries and birthdays, etc are part of being knit together in loving relationships. We truly are not meant to go through life alone! I'm grateful for the "friends for the journey" that God has placed in my life!

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 NLT

As Henry shows, sometimes, all we really need is a moment to stop and appreciate and hold the moment close...


Thursday, October 08, 2009

5 Things...

5 fun things I did today...
1. Furminated the cats (2 out of 3)
2. Drained the coffee pot
3. Prayed with a cat on my lap
4. Watered a snake (accidentally - there was a garter snake outside in my mums!)
5. Had leftover (cold) pizza for lunch

5 things I wasted time on...
1. Bejeweled on Facebook (gad, it is addicting!)
2. Trying to find a favorite pen
3. Blogging
4. Sorting a bookshelf
5. Reading other people's Facebooks

5 things I am thankful for...
1. Bearded Brewer
2. 2 daughters
3. 3 cats
4. many friends
5. aptitude to use the brain God gave me

5 things I pray for...
1. Clarity for where God will send us
2. Using our resources wisely
3. Guarding the hearts of our children
4. Spiritual protection
5. Peace

5 things I need to finish today...
1. Read over Greek vocab. cards
2. Write two sermon outlines
3. Read far too many pages in OT textbooks
4. Complete an essay on "Christocentric" sermons
5. Drive to Annapolis to pick up The Johnnie for a long weekend at home!


Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm on Meet and Greet this week!

I'm on the RevGalBlogPals "Meet and Greet" this week...

1. Where do you blog?
at Another Unfinished Symphony (We also have 3 blogging cats... Henry and Tiria blog at Mouse + Cat = Blog and Polgara, our senior citizen feline, deigns to respond at The Duchess Who Outranks Everyone. (You have to have read David Eddings to get Polgara's blog title...)

2. What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
Becky, a friend, homeschooler and blogger
My orthodox friend, Debbi homeschooled up to 6 at one time (not worthy!!)
Emerging Women... and Beatitudes Society... remind me that I'm in this for an all-consuming purpose.
Christians for Biblical Equality has a blog "the Scroll"...
Fun ones...
Cake Wrecks...
The Buckeye Blog... and Block O Nation AND... TBDBITL... (because I do NOT get Buckeye coverage here in the DC area)

3. What gives you joy?
Family, Music, Friends and chocolate. Always Chocolate.

4. What is your favorite sound?
The surf on a "real" beach (no boardwalks, vendors, puke-rides... just the beach!)

5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
I love you.

6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
Deb doesn't live here anymore.

7. Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
Shredding her Turabian handbook one page at a time, the new pastor in town puzzled over why the dogs were picketing the manse...

8. What color do you prefer your pen?
Black roller ball

9. What magazines do you subscribe to?
Sojourners, Christianity Today, Consumer Reports, and a couple of homebrewing ones I don't remember the names of (for the Bearded Brewer's enjoyment.)
(OOPS! I forgot Priscilla Papers and Mutuality from Christians for Biblical Equality!)

10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
Well, finishing my M.Div. and actually being employed as a pastor would be nice... to see our kids through college, beginning the settle into the places God wants them, and maybe, just MAYBE, renovate the kitchen before we move.

11. Why are you cool?
Don't know as I am. But then, I never really tried to be.

12. What is one of your favorite memories?
Those "newborn" moments when our girls were born.

13. Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?
Q. Why now?
A. Why not?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Things I can't blog about

The list is long... they're good things, worrisome things, hysterically funny things and sad things... if you are good at praying for "all of the above" without the particulars, please do.

They are all things that involve other people's stories, so I can't blog freely about them. But they're keeping me awake and musing when I need to be horizontal and snoozing.



Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hardening - A Picture of God's Mercy

Being of the pigheaded variety of human being, I had a bit of a "mirror event" as I read the first half of Exodus for an assignment this week. We were tasked with considering how God's character meshed with God's judgment of Pharaoh, and how God's grace and humanity's freewill

At first reading, the issue of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart seems to be an extremely unfair action by God towards the Egyptian leader. However, after looking carefully at the words, it actually is a picture of God’s attempts to reconcile and redeem all of creation, even those who stand against God’s justice and God’s people.

The Hebrew words have meanings that emphasize the heavy, hard and severely unyielding reaction of Pharaoh's heart. (I won't bore you with a word study...) Each word has slightly different connotations, but the general meaning is one of a gradual, strengthening refusal to hear and obey the word of the Lord. They clearly show that God allowed and even precipitated the circumstances which led to Pharaoh’s decision to refuse to listen to the commands of Yahweh. And God used the opportunity to show the power and authority... that God's will would be done.

When one reads the Exodus narrative, it is notable that God’s foreknowledge and providence were evident. God knew that Pharaoh would be unwilling to yield; Pharaoh’s pride and desire for power would not allow him to worship Yahweh. And God used the circumstances to proclaim His power and magnificence to the “all the earth” (see Exodus 9:13-17). Even in what seemed to be a “defeat” at the edge of the Red Sea, God used the pride of the Egyptian army to show the power of Yahweh (Ex. 14:17-18).

Just as a piece of clay gradually hardens to a durable, hard object, so is the human’s heart response to God. At any point until the final hardening process, God’s mercy allows for change and renewal.

When I pray for God to re-make me... I'm asking God to keep me pliable and mold-able. So as a result, I'm put through changes, challenges and some personal remodeling.

Good stuff. Hard stuff. But necessary...


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom...

Happy Birthday!

I won't tell everyone how old you are. (For once, I'll behave.) I wanted to thank you for all you've done for your family.

You've answered our questions...

Exposed us to new places and new ideas...

Had a loving, long-lived, committed marriage...

Loved your children and grandchildren...

Tried new things...

Enjoyed life and living with humor and grace...

And encouraged us to do the same...

Thanks, Mom.

I love you!