The Pastoral is Political: Believer? I Hardly Know Her…

“I’m very grateful she’s a woman
And very easy to forget…”

~ Professor Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady

24-cosby-lede-feature

On the cover of New York Magazine is this striking photo of 35 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and raping them. Read the full article here. But, I don’t want to talk about Cosby. I really don’t. Not his issues, motives, what he did or didn’t do for America in terms of race, his moralistic judgements or even the Jello commercials. If I didn’t have to mention his name, I wouldn’t.

But let’s talk about the women that don’t have dozens of others backing their story up for a minute. Why, why, why do we not listen to women?

Sexual assault statistics, are astounding, yet we still live with the myth that women are calling “rape” the way that Peter cried “Wolf”.

What I can say is that women live in a culture were when it comes to sex, we are not to be believed.

Women are not to be believed because we are all whores and sluts- It is believed that women say we are waiting for our knight in shining armor to save us when really we desire the dark knight who will “ravage us”. The more handsome, popular, famous, successful you are, the more entitled you are to release a woman’s inner whore. The more quiet and conservative she may be, the more repressed she is. Some women really like sex, I would dare to say most, just like men, still not a reason to assault. Women can proudly claim their love of sex and still be believed when assaulted. Even if she was raped by a “such a nice boy.”

Women are not to be believed because they were asking for it- Yes, this one again… “Did you see how she was dressed? She was asking for it.” Sometimes women dress up to go out, sometimes women wear low cut shirts or they wear short skirts, or stiletto heals because they like the way their legs look. OR sometimes they wear yoga pants and sweatshirts. You know what? We are not sexual objects. We are not just boobs and butts and vaginas. We have eyes in our heads that you should look at when you talk to us, even if there is a little cleavage showing.

Women are not to be believed because they are too emotional- Women are emotional creatures (as are men, by the way…Which begs the question of which a man is using when he sexually assaults?) But as we *all* know feelings are not as important as thoughts. We may have a mouth but it’s not connected to our brains.  We easily write women off because they are being “too sensitive.” They should develop “thicker skin” and “not take it so personally.” When a man tells a woman he’d like to bend her over the board room table and hold her down moments before she is to give a presentation. “It was just a joke. Don’t be so sensitive.” We are irrational and therefore not to be trusted. We’re ambitious and will say anything to get ahead.

Women are not to be believed because we less than people– It is believed that women were created for companionship to the man (Genesis 2). I am not agreeing with this interpretation necessarily, but this has been the common cultural assumption. Men don’t understand women’s bodies- smaller muscles, hormones, menstruation, just to name a few differences. My ex-husband used to say, “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die.” That one caused a big laugh. We are to serve at the pleasure of men, we are to “receive” their will and “give” of ourselves. Feminism has taken us a long way,  but the cultural assumption is still there. Women’s bodies do not belong to themselves, they are compared to voluptuous mountains, delicate flowers, and the curves of fruit. Things to gaze upon, to be desired, plucked and devoured.

I’m so proud of these 35 women on the cover of the New Yorker, I honor them and their stories. I also honor the thousands of women who go without anyone to believe them, not one. I honor the women who continue to believe these assumptions about themselves. I honor the women who should be protected and won’t be in the future. I honor them all, and mourn. Oh, and if someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted? Have compassion, and sympathy, and above all, believe her.

(a note: not all sexual assault is male to female or heterosexual, I am not assuming that, I am however talking about that dynamic specifically in this post.)

*****

The Rev. Meacham

The Rev. Meacham

A rock star from the start, the Reverend Shannon Meacham belted out a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in religious studies, from the University of Louisville and a Master of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Shannon is the mother of two beautiful children Maggie and Gus. She has served churches in Kentucky, New York and currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. She blogs at Pulpit Shenanigans where this post was originally published.

*****
In celebration of ten years of ministry and community for RevGalBlogPals, the first commenter on this post will receive a copy of our book, “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor” (Skylight Paths Publishing). All commenters are eligible with the exception of contributors to the book and members of the RevGals board.

Categories: The Pastoral is Political | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tuesday Prayer

Sweet Jesus,

Wow! My mind is all over the place this morning.  It’s jumping around with half-thoughts and tasks begun, some even finished, looking forward through the day, wondering what exactly what made the puppy so sick in the middle of the night, deciding what is next on my to-do list, half-listening to bad morning t.v., reading news and blogs, and OH!

I pray for focus today, and for the integrity to live in this day and not it live me.

Remind me to bless, to love, to share, to live compassion and joy.

(Long pause.)

Amen.

P.S. Luke is leaving “General Hospital”! Wow.  O.k., I need to pray this prayer again. Amen.

Categories: Tuesday Prayer | 3 Comments

Lectionary Leanings: Yeah! More Bread! Edition (John 6:24-35)

When the pastors heard it was Lectionary Year B, they made lamentation for it. When the brief Easter passed and the fires of Pentecost cooled, the monolithic mesa of ordinary time loomed. It bore the burden of John 6. 
Some rejoiced and some mourned. Some had a plan and some gnashed their teeth weekly. Yet the Lord sent a prophet to the persons of the Revised Common Lectionary. The prophet announced to those responsible, “There once was a book unlike any other. Full of life and richness, tales of woe and joy, this book told the story of God through history, poetry, narrative, and dreams. With metaphor, song, and plain language, realities of creation are made manifest within its pages. Yet, there were forces that constricted the stories. These forces grasped at a theme and sat on it, barely let the Spirit play amongst the words that are good for teaching and bringing freedom. These forces bend and twist the Hebrew scriptures to match words from the gospel accounts without accounting for the depth and breadth of God’s-light-witness in both.”
The lectionary elves gasped at this hearing, clutching pearls and pearl tie clips, “Who would do such a thing?” 
The pastors, their calendars full of bread-themed ideas, songs, and sermon starts, pointed, “You have done this! And, thus, people do not know the arc of the gospel according to Mark. And, thus, people do not comprehend the fullness of the gospel according to John. And, thus, do dreams of bread pudding dance through our heads!” 
Okay, maybe just I feel that way. It’s only just the second week of the Bread of Life discourse. If you’ve been following the semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture readings, this week is Nathan’s confrontation with David. I gave myself a little giggle imagining a horde of pastors, eyes flashing indignantly, pointing at the compilers of the RCL and screaming, “Thou are the [men and women]!”
The reading from Exodus this week offers its own richness, not as a mere foreshadowing to the gospel text. Provision in the wilderness is a reality that still has resonance in our time. Given the very real trials and traumas of immigration in Africa (to Europe) and within the Americas at this time, what does being fed in the desert look like? Are we called to be carriers of manna (God’s providence) to those who seek freedom, hope, and healing? Even as we preach abundance again and again, many churches still operate- monetarily and spiritually- from a sense of scarcity. We also have our laments of the days gone by. Perhaps a sermon could call a congregation to account for the hope that is present within them. What is true now? What is the manna and the quail surrounding the congregation- provided by grace- that can and will sustain them?
As for 2 Samuel, I’m all for David getting called out. I’m in the front row, with popcorn, hollering, “PREACH” to Nathan. Then I’m sucking my teeth at the predictions that follow. Why do others have to suffer because of David’s sin? The later writers needed to make sense of the division, death, and disruption that came to David’s house. How could he be the king that foreshadows the Messiah with such corruption in the house? Attributing all the subsequent pain to David’s choices in this one situation is a difficult leap to make, yet it stands. Repentance does not remove the consequences of the sin. Repentance doesn’t stop the sin from affecting other people. How is God’s grief at sin portrayed in this story? The reality of costly grace (Bonhoeffer) is that it costs God to provide it. What is the cost to God in this text? Do we see it?
If I were preaching on Ephesians, I would concentrate on the phrase “speaking the truth in love”. What does that phrase mean? What does it look like when it is done? How does the true speaking of truth in love lend itself to cohesiveness in the body? I might look the local or national issues of my community or denomination. Often this phrase is thrown around as a way to bully others OR to it is reacted to very sharply, as though it meant to bully. However, this is the call of the life of faith- to acknowledge that there is a truth that comes in being on the Way of Christ. We cannot ignore that truth. We cannot make that yoke light by our own niceness or refusal to confront pain. We are called, through the power of love, to speak the truth about oneness and union and unity in the Lord.
I don’t know about where you’ll be preaching, but the great leap for the words I will say on Sunday is helping people to 1) learn to recognize spiritual hunger, 2) realize that there are real and tangible solutions to physical hunger, 3) learn how we miss the expansiveness of what God offers in Christ by “just” asking for one thing, and 4) how are we called to be inviters and sharers of the bread of life.
What do you anticipate lifting up this week? Please share your thoughts, tips, tricks, children’s sermons, bread recipes, leftover manna casseroles, love of John 6, lament over leaving Mark, or whatever else seems pertinent (loose term), helpful, and for the good of the order!
Categories: Lectionary Leanings, Revised Common Lectionary, Tuesday Lectionary Leanings | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Pastoral is Political: Handguns and Cell Phones

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Two weeks ago, I was in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana movie theater, sitting near someone who was in the midst a psychiatric mood episode. The young man became unable to focus on the movie and was visibly agitated. He used his cell phone during the movie, silently doing things on it — tweeting, texting, playing games — to keep his hands and mind calm.

A week later, in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater, John Russell Houser was also a man with a psychiatric illness. He pulled out a gun and opened fire, killing two and wounding nine, then killing himself.

Cell phone or handgun? Which one is explicitly forbidden to use during a movie?

Our Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal claims that Louisiana gun laws would have prevented Houser from buying a gun here. Perhaps. He declares that other states should follow Louisiana’s lead on “toughening up” gun laws. Don’t believe it. Louisiana has some of the least restrictive gun purchase laws in the country, and — no surprise — the highest rate of gun deaths in the country.

Cell phones or handguns in movie theaters?

If Texas Governor Rick Perry gets his way, handguns would be allowed in movie theaters to “prevent shootings.” Using a cell phone is, of course, still prohibited during movies and could result in a movie-goer’s removal from the theater.

Allowing guns, banning guns. What to do in church? Some advocate that handguns be allowed in churches. Pastors should “carry” in the pulpit, they say, to protect ourselves and our flocks. South Carolina had a law banning handguns in church. Still, a man concealed a gun, went into a Charleston, South Carolina church and killed nine people. As of a year ago, concealed carry guns in church was legal in 25 states.

I once took for granted that all church sanctuaries were “sanctuary” from guns. (Some aren’t.)

Until I moved back to Louisiana, I had never wondered if a relative was coming to family gatherings with a weapon. (At least one does.)

I once watched a pastor shame a child for holding — holding, not using — a cell phone in church. (I confronted that pastor.)

So . . . I would love to propose a solution in a world of danger and uncertainty, the era of handguns and cell phones. My remedy would involve sensible gun safety regulations, using technology well, adequate healthcare for all, and safe, love-filled spaces to worship, watch movies, eat turkey dinner with family, and nurture children to their full God-dreamed potential. I dream, I know.  In the between-time:

As pastors, we can be faithful in our congregations to embody the vision of God-realm-infused community that we call Body of Christ. God help us and save us.

And as citizens, we can work for the legislation and vote for the politicians we think will support “life abundantly” values in our society. Also, when necessary, stage protests.

Because I do like the idea of going to a movie theater or a worship service where the worst thing that happens is when someone pulls out a cell phone.

* * * * *

RevGals coverIn celebration of ten years of ministry and community for RevGalBlogPals, the first commenter on this post will receive a copy of our book, “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor” (Skylight Paths Publishing). All commenters are eligible with the exception of contributors to the book and members of the RevGals board.

 

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header image courtesy of Javier Gonzales, rgbstock.com

Categories: The Pastoral is Political | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Monday Prayer

Life is funny!
Well sometimes it isn’t
But, most times, please God – I can laugh at it all.

Holy God
Be with me
Be with my sisters and brothers
As this day we do some first things
And some hundredth things
As we do funny things
And as we attend to sadder times

Be with us
Strengthen us
Remind us we have friends praying and loving us
Sharing, virtually, even if they cannot IRL…

Holy God
(pause)
Beloved Son
(pause)
Blessed Spirit
(pause)

Mother
(pause)
Brother
(pause)
Guide
(pause)

Today
(pause)
Today
(pause)
TODAY
(pause)
For tomorrow is another day

Amen

Categories: Monday Prayer | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Sunday Prayer

For this reason, we bow our spirits before the Most High God
from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name*:

because you are the strength and delight of all life;
because you are the root and well of all love;
because you are the wisdom and mystery of all faith.

For this reason, we bow our spirits before the Most High God
from whom every creature in heaven and on earth takes its being:

because you make time for the sick and the brokenhearted;
because you care most of all for the poor and the assaulted;
because you scold the powerful and the callous.

For this reason, we bow our spirits before the Most High God
from whom every season in heaven and on earth takes its cue:

because your grace outlasts and enfolds our frailties;
because your abundance surprises and satisfies our doubts;
because your justice shatters and upends our norms.

For this reason, we bow our spirits before the Most High God
from whom every word in heaven and on earth has its truth:

because you dance wildly in the wilderness when there is no way;
because you walk calmly through storms when there is no hope;
because you seek diligently for the sake of your kingdom.

For this reason, we bow our spirits before the Most High God.

* adapted from Ephesians 3:14-15

Categories: RevGalPrayerPals, Sunday Prayer | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Anniversary Gifts for RevGals

(An invitation to give, from a non-blogging RevGal.)

10 years ago, I found myself reading random blogs – politics, fan fiction, favorite TV shows…  I was a lurker, never a blogger.  Even so, I still remember the sense of electric connection when I first came across blogs written by women in ministry. Those anonymous bloggers were funny and fabulous and deeply honest about the crazy stuff as well as the amazing gift of our non-traditional calling.  Reading those blogs, with their clever pen-names and sideways references, lifted me out of the narrow confines of that too small town.  I was not alone. Knowing these women were out there somewhere was saving my life in that hard season.

I never imagined meeting IRL, but I attended a Festival of Homiletics meet up with a blogger friend.  It was overwhelming and thrilling to first connect blog names with faces.  I took the next scary step of signing up for a Big Event cruise with my RGBP friend, anxiously wondering what I was getting myself into.  At first I felt incredibly awkward but not for long. The first person I remember meeting was Songbird/Martha and she warmly welcomed me.  It changed my life to be with such gifted and deeply committed women of God.  We heard and told deep truths, shared some painful ministry moments, and realized together we had something special to share with the world. I still remember one afternoon laughing more than I had in years and only then recognizing how deeply I missed feeling joy in my ministry.

RevGals leaving Lindisfarne after the post-BEE pilgrimage.

RevGals leaving Lindisfarne after the post-BEE pilgrimage.

Relationships that began as blogs and comments, deepened through meet-ups and BE’s and  BEE ( Edinburgh and Lindisfarne! How cool is that to have RGBP friends in Scotland and England!)  now sustain my ministry and my sanity.  Daily Prayers, The Pastoral is Political, 11th Hour Preacher Party provide comfort and challenge.  RGBP Facebook group is a regular check in, where prayers are held and wisdom shared no matter what time in the day or night. This community regularly saves my life. 

As I posted on the FB page, I had been pondering what might be an appropriate anniversary gift for this 10 year old community.  I made a gift through the website “donate button” of $10 for each year that RGBP has been a significant part of my life.  $10 per year for truly priceless prayer, support, laughter and “galship.” 

Rev. Martha Spong is our part time paid pastor, administrator and “go to” person for much of what makes RGBP a healthy vital community. Maintaining this community has costs. I am convicted that between all of us, the newest Facebook group (currently numbering 2924!) and blog ring members, as well as those who have been around awhile, we can grow our capacity to encourage and celebrate the world wide ministry of women and those who support us.

So I would like to invite all who are part of this innovative and life changing ministry to think about how long RevGals has been part of your life and join me in making a gift of an amount of your choice in honor of each year. 

Happy Anniversary RevGalBlogPals, and many, many more!!!

*****

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RevGals Sharon, Karla and Celeste at dinner on one of our Big Event cruises.

Second career PC (USA) Minister, Celeste is surprised and delighted to be serving a lovely church in NW KS.  She can’t wait to return to Scotland, next time with her husband of 26 years

She is frequently bemused by God’s sense of humor and endlessly grateful for colleagues, friends and soul friends. 

***** 

Bonus Book Giveaway! 

In celebration of ten years of ministry and community for RevGalBlogPals, the first commenter on this post will receive a copy of our book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor (Skylight Paths Publishing). All commenters are eligible with the exception of contributors to the book and members of the RevGals board.

Categories: donate, Galship, RevGalBlogPals Inc, RevGals Book Project | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

11th Hour Preacher’s Party: The power of one

The Christ candle burns brightly

The Christ candle burns brightly

This Sunday’s RCL texts offer much food for thought – about abundance, about power, about the part each of us plays in the bigger picture of life. Plenty for us to get our teeth into! But enough of the puns.
Where are you headed in worship this week?
Are you following RCL and groaning at the sojourn in John’s gospel with all those bread narratives?
Are you holding David and Bathsheba up to the light?
Are you giving thanks with Paul for this family of which we are part?
Or are you pursuing a summer series?
There is some good discussion from the Lectionary Leanings post earlier in the week as well as some powerful writing and prayers from some of our RevGals on contemporary events that call for us to be bold, speaking up with the power and love of Christ – check out this week’s blog posts.
Whatever you’re preaching, we invite you to share what you have at the Preacher’s Party where Christ will multiply our offerings beyond what we can imagine.
And, on top of all that, to celebrate the 10th Birthday of RevGalBlogPals, there is this wonderful giveaway:
In celebration of ten years of ministry and community for RevGalBlogPals, the first commenter on this post will receive a copy of our book, “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor” (Skylight Paths Publishing). All commenters are eligible with the exception of contributors to the book and members of the RevGals board.
There’s a Woman in the Pulpit – SkyLight Paths Publishing
http://www.skylightpaths.com
RevGals cover

Be informed and inspired, delighted and supported, encouraged and entertained by stories and prayers…

Categories: 11th Hour Preacher Party | Tags: , , , | 64 Comments

Friday Five: The Family Foamhenge Game

FoamHenge

Foamhenge

During a recent family reunion in Lexington, Virginia, I went with some members of my family to see Foamhenge. the creation of Mark Cline that “mysteriously” appeared one April Fools’ Day. It’s a life-sized styrofoam replica of the real deal. (I kid you not.) If you are in to off-the beaten-path, unique family bonding moments, this will do it.

Every family has their own traditions, quirks and follies. So for this week’s Friday Five, tell us about your family/tribe/clan for these 5 distinctive traits:

  1. Favorite Game
  2. Favorite Sports Team
  3. Birthday tradition
  4. The place that you collectively call “Home” (even if none of you live there any more.
  5. Family Vacation Spot

BONUS: Family Dessert: Every family has one. That yummy, calorie-laden delight that frequents your table at parties or holidays. Share the recipe, or (if it’s a family secret) share a photo.

Play along on your blog or in the comments!

AND… here’s a special offer!

RevGals cover

In celebration of ten years of ministry and community for RevGalBlogPals, the first commenter on this post will receive a copy of our book, “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor” (Skylight Paths Publishing). All commenters are eligible with the exception of contributors to the book and members of the RevGals board.

I’m proud to be one of the RevGals contributors and supporters and hope you gain from reading this book, as I did. Good luck with the contest! (And… if you don’t have a copy yet, you find out how to order the book HERE!)

Categories: Friday Five | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Friday Prayer: Bedrock Truth

God-

There are those who say it is impossible to accept the presence of Love you created in some couples.

There are some who find fault with each black and brown victim and cry “History” as they wave propaganda.

There are some who believe possession of a vagina, femininity, or the name woman are second-class at best.

There are those who believe more guns are better and that the way of the world cannot be turned.

There are those who refuse to see the rising tide, literally, and understand that change is in their hands.

With you, all things are possible.

With you, these things are not inevitable.

With you, these stones of “reality” crumble under the truth of grace and mercy.

We cry out for your justice, Lord, with Deborah, Hannah, Michal, Mary, and Magdalene.

We call out for your action, Lord, with Sandra, Kindra, Eric, Tamir, and Freddie.

We call out for the possible to become the now, Lord, with Francis 1, Harper, Bree, and Nelson.

We cry out of, from the depths of our being, for your swift and righteous action- knowing that we will be caught up in the threshing- yet we cannot bear the pain of your creation any longer.

Our hearts ache for all that is possible in you.

May it be so.

Selah.

Categories: Friday Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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