From the RevGalBlogPals leadership: Black Lives Matter

We are deeply grieved by the shooting deaths of the past week. The killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile reveal the urgent need to dismantle white supremacy in the United States. The deaths of the Dallas police officers and of Micah Xavier Johnson point toward that same urgent task, exposing the moral and physical injuries that generations of thinking and practice have caused. As a ministry with members around the world, we stand against racial injustice everywhere.

We are committed to the truth that Black Lives Matter.

This is more than a slogan or a hashtag. It is the song of our hearts, our hands, our sermons, and our daily lives. The Son has made us free, but there are those who refuse to recognize that freedom.

The poet Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Regrettably, RevGalBlogPals’ efforts toward anti-racism and full and safe inclusion of our black colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family has not always been our best effort. For this we are most heartily sorry.

We know better. We will do better. And we will not rest until we are all free indeed.

Rev. Martha Spong, Executive Director – United Church of Christ
Rev. Julia Seymour, President – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Sarah Howe Miller, Ph.D., Vice-President – United Methodist Church
Rev. Liz Crumlish, Secretary – Church of Scotland
Rev. Amy Haynie, Treasurer – The Episcopal Church
Rev. Jemma Allen – Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Rev. T. Denise Anderson – Presbyterian Church (USA)
Ms. Mary Beth Butler – The Episcopal Church
Rev. Teri Peterson – Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Sharon Temple – United Church of Christ
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The Pastoral is Political: Critical Thinking

Last week was a rough one in the United States. The Republican National Convention displayed for all the world to see just how easy it is for us humans to be persuaded by appealing to our fears and prejudices. And the Democratic National Convention is starting off under a similar cloud this week.

Last week, when a friend wrote on Facebook that zie couldn’t imagine why anyone would who had a choice would be watching the Republican National Convention, I responded with a flippant and off the cuff comment: “Opposition research.” You see, I would like to believe that there’s an “us” and a “them” in politics right now. The “us” would be smart, woke, anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist folks who, if we just were given control of the United States would know exactly what to do to best promote the common good. And the “them” would be, you know, those other people. I’m afraid of “their” vision of the United States and of what is good for our country. I imagine them all as selfish, greedy folks who care only about themselves.

It’s not that simple. Those of us who are as woke as we can be and who are doing the best we can to spread the gospel are still part of a system the benefits white people, able-bodied people, heterosexual people, and male people. Rev. Emily Heitzman wrote eloquently about this for last week’s Pastoral is Political. And many of those on the “other” side are people who care deeply about their communities and families. The economic system in the United States is not working for them and they are running out of hope and they long ago lost faith in our political system to fix anything.

The fact that this is not simple is annoying to me. I prefer simplicity. I thrive on order. I actually LIKE to color within the lines. I want to know who is good and who is bad. I want to know who is right and who is wrong. But that’s not how it works. My faith requires that I do a whole lot more critical thinking than staying within the lines. And critical thinking, especially when my dander is up, is hard work.

Jesus made his disciples do this hard work, though. He didn’t just heal people with physical and mental illnesses. He healed the hearts of corrupt tax collectors and religious officials. He did it by being consistent in his ethic of love, and by not being afraid to turn over some tables when the situation warranted it.

So that’s what I’m trying to do during this dystopian political season. I’m working hard to remember that there are more than two sides to everything and to avoid demonizing whole groups of people. I’m also working hard to not shy away from calling out racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism and all the other -isms when they happen, even when I’m complicit in the systems that allow them. I’m working on becoming more aware of all those -isms and the ways in which I am complicit in perpetuating them.

And to keep me grounded in love, I’m holding on to personal moments of hope, like when my family of choice shows up to church with me and the eight-year-old spends the service snuggled up to my side. It is for her, with her pigtails and glasses and wise blue eyes that I will continue to stay engaged, even when I’d rather not.


Marie Alford-Harkey is the President and CEO of the Religious Institute, a national multifaith nonprofit dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. She met her amazing wife, April at their beloved alma mater, Episcopal Divinity School. Marie, April, Chaplain Dog Sandy, and cats Memphis and Emily Jane live in Connecticut. Marie will be ordained as a pastor in the Metropolitan Community Church on August 27, 2016. She blogs sporadically at Love is Strong as Death.

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Monday Prayer

Holy One

so many lives… and all of them matter – yet because of the way the world perceives some, for us, right now we must emphasise that Black Lives Matter… really, really matter.

in your Holy Eyes -you see no difference

Help us to see as you see

the person

the beloved child of God

Help us to speak out – showing those who see difference that it is they who are different; they who dishonour; who discriminate; it is they who need to change.

Help us to show others, by our love in action that we can see beyond, deeper, clearer; and by doing so may we help others to see too.

Holy One: it feels like the world is spinning out of control; in every corner; in every country; in every place there is hurt and pain and unnecessary grief. And we are left – wordless; prayer-less; sightless; hopeless. Only with you, through you will we be able to find again, the words, the prayers, the sight, the hope – only with you

hear us

hear us

hear

us

amen

 

Julie (Woods) Rennick is a Church of Scotland minister, serving a rural community in the village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders. She recently married and is getting used to a new name. She blogs at A Country Girl, writes for Spill the Beans and contributed to the RevGals book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.
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Sunday Prayer

Hear the prayers of your people,  O God,
from the silent depths of the oceans
to the pounding tides of the shore,
from the tears poured out in crowded streets
to the songs raised joyfully under the open sky.

What are our prayers to the foundation of your grace?
Not even raindrops
not even dust
yet you know every word on our hearts.
Remind us of who you are, and where, and how.

Hear the prayers of your people,  O God,
from our silent sorrows to our wildest dreams,
in need of healing, in need of sustenance,
through our seeking and our working and our loving,
always with longing for you.

What are our prayers in the current of your faithfulness?
Not even skipping stones
not even a riffle among the rapids
yet you know every breath, every life.
Remind us of who you are, and where, and how.

In you we live and move and have our being.
In you we rest eternally grateful.
Amen.

.

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Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ (US) minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.
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11th Hour Preacher Party: Where were you?

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This evening, as I soaked up this view, accompanied by the lapping of waves and the call of oyster catchers, the words of God to Job were ringing in my ears: Where were you when?…as God lists the marvels of creation and lends some kind of perspective to Job’s suffering. Creation – and the God of creation is beyond our imagining, full of mystery and majesty.

And then the  evening news brought details of another shooting , this time in Munich. The world is so filled with violence and hatred, with racism and injustice. We want to turn that question on God: Where were you God?…when black lives are being assassinated, when families celebrating festivals are mown down, when countries are caught up in the aftermath of a military coup, when …the list is endless.

And God turns the question right back to us. Where were you? What are you doing to bring God’s justice? What are you doing to show love and compassion, to make a difference in a broken world?

Where is your preaching going this week? Share your struggles here as, together, we attempt to find God’s word of hope and peace and justice for our world today.

Reflections on the RCL can be found here. And resources for the Narrative Lectionary are here.

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Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister currently working on a National Renewal Project. A Board Member of RevGalBlogPals, instigator of Spill the Beans and contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, Liz blogs at journalling

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Friday Prayer: Feast Day of Mary Magdalene

Holy Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles, Friend of Jesus, Soul Freed from Seven Demons, pray for us.

Brown-skinned prophetic sister, comfort those who are grieving and exhausted. Bring the consolation of company, rest, and return for their labor.

Watcher at the foot of the cross, give us the strength to bear witness to those falsely imprisoned in jails or by systems. Grant us the willingness to speak against a culture of fear-mongering and death.

Weeper at the tomb, strengthen us by your example and knowledge to keep walking, keeping speaking, keep singing, and to demand, still, that we want to see Jesus. And help us to radiate joy when he speaks our name.

Holy Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles, Friend of Jesus, Soul Freed from Seven Demons, pray for us.

 

 

The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, Alaska. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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Friday Five: Sound

Our family is spending a few days at our nearest beach. With a new place come new sounds. Here are some questions about sound for your consideration. Answer at the RevGalBlogPals blog, in the Facebook group, or on your own blog (be sure and leave a link in the comments. You can just cut and paste the address).

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(not my beach). Photo from rgbstock.com

  1. What sound is soothing to you?
  2. What sound do you find irritating?
  3. What sound makes you happy?
  4. What sound immediately gets your attention?
  5. What is your favorite sound to make?

 

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Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as a pulpit supply preacher in South Central Texas. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.
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Thursday Prayer

Sweet Jesus,
Today I got so busy trying to love you, and love people for you, and live and breath your love in the world and do it right and well and of course, lovingly, and I almost forgot… how much you love me.
Thanks.
I needed that.
Amen.

 

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The Rev. Erin Counihan serves as pastor at Oak Hill Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in St. Louis, MO and blogs hardly ever at all these days at http://www.somewhatreverend.wordpress.com.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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RevGalBookPals: Good Christian Sex

We are all facing the need for hard conversations these days. There are conversations that must be had about race, about social structures, about power and privilege, about insectionality, about culture, about values, and about how to be in the world. One (only one) of the topics to discuss in the giant wheel of “how to be in the world” is about sex. I say that as though sex itself was a simple thing. Either you are having it or you aren’t. Either it’s good or it isn’t. Either it’s consensual or it’s rape. Either you’re thinking it though or you’re using the other person or people.

I realize some of you are wondering what else needs to be said on the topic of sex, especially in the Christian arena. However, the reality is that we have not closed the circle on the conversation on healthy human sexuality as experienced in solo and partnered activity. In trying to demarcate virginity, purity, and time/place/tab/slot, we have missed a whole range of conversations on the beauty, diversity, and holiness of sex as a means of grace in our lives and in the world. So writes Bromleigh McCleneghan in her new book, Good Christian Sex: Why Chastity Isn’t the Only Option-And Other Things the Bible Says About Sex.

51tw-fztofl-_sx326_bo1204203200_McCleneghan writes the book that seminarians will want to discuss, campus pastors will discuss, and young adults in faith communities will be glad to read (and should ask their partners to read as well). Her chapters on a theology of intimacy, vulnerability, faithfulness, and other pertinent topics make the ethical discussion that has happened elsewhere accessible to the parish, campus, and community reader. She writes, “The experience of good sex—and the delightful things that lead up to it—is one of risking showing and sharing oneself with another, of giving and receiving care and attention, of connection and delight. It tends to require a partner, and an enthusiastic, sensitive one as well. ”(48f)

 McCleneghan dares to put out (ha!) the idea that the God-given gift of sex (and sexuality) are not to be packed away until some future when a switch will magically be flipped via a ring and certain phrases and then all will fall into place with no awkwardness and mutual orgasms for everyone. Instead, she argues that there is a real discipleship in approaching sex with thoughtfulness and care for one’s self and one’s partner. “Sex—intimacy—opens us up to change. It asks us to trust and let go, to relax and experiment. It draws us into play and pleasure, but also the work of communicating with another person who cannot get inside our heads. Through sex we can practice attention, invitation, hospitality, and the means of grace. “ (150)

 This is the conversation starter that many pastors, parents, godparents, confirmation sponsors, grandparents, and peers are longing to have. This book provides structure for having a conversation that is between “Sex is horrible, but you save it for someone you love” and “Sex is great. Have fun!” That ‘and’ covers a multitude of sins, but also of grace moments and ways of learning about one’s body, mind, and soul. The author carefully covers the reality that marriage can be an unsafe place for sex. She also discusses the reality, often overlooked, that sex within a shorter-term partnership can still be holy and fulfilling.

I recommend this book for all pastors’ shelves (to read and to share), as well as for anyone I’ve mentioned above. If you have several books on sexual ethics that you’ve wanted to read or you’ve only read a bit of, this may prove to be a good synopsis of those books or that larger discussion. That is not to say that the author makes the conversation simple, but rather that she makes it more accessible.

I received a free proof of this book for review. No promises were made in exchange for that copy.

The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, Alaska. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com.

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Wednesday Prayer

clouds

For all those who are hurting, wondering, doubting, crying, grieving, questioning, lonely, discouraged, despairing, wailing, crawling, stumbling, tip-toeing, stressing, anxious, unclear, and more,

We pray “Lord Have Mercy!”

We pray  “pour out your Holy Spirit upon them from the crown of their heads to the souls of their feet.”

We pray “in Jesus name, for God’s sake.”

We pray “Amen.”

 

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Rev. Karla Miller is a UCC pastor serving as Minister of Community Life at Old North Church in Marblehead, MA, one of the most quaint and lovely places on the North Shore of Boston.  She really loves all kinds of dogs, and longs for a goat and a flock of chickens.  Once in a while she blogs at
do. love. walk. what more can I say?

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.
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Wednesday Festival: more challenges, more grace.

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Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.  Christ Jesus, come in glory!

 

It has been another rough week in the world.  Violence, terrorism, political unrest.  Hunger, disease, suffering. Situations in the world, in our nations, our denominations, our homes, our own bodies…

And still we testify to the One who is gracious and merciful; longing for the day when justice and mercy kiss, and peace is known in every place.

If you haven’t seen it already, please read the statement by the RevGalBlogPals leadership about our commitment to the work of repenting from and dismantling  racism, both in our own organisation and in the communities, churches and countries of which we are a part.

Martha reflects on the Anglican Church in Canada’s General Synod last week: the tumult around the decision to change the marriage canon and what it is like to worship as one body even in the midst of pain and division.

Wil gives some guidelines about what to preach when blood is running in the street.

Diane wonders how to preach in the face of the news of our world.

Cindy writes about the experience of parenting young adults and sharing their burdens (and unexpected joys).  She shares one of her family’s sayings: hard isn’t bad, hard is just hard.

When times are tough, how might we take stock of the day?  Jan makes some suggestions.

Martha writes a ‘Come to Jesus’ prayer for pastors – calling us to hear Christ’s word to come and be transformed.

And perhaps you need Jan’s Blessing When the World is Ending.

 

Jemma Allen is a priest in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  She is a part-time member of the staff team in the parish of All Saints Howick, Auckland and is also a counsellor and spiritual director.  She serves on the Board of Trustees of RevGalBlogPals.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.
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