Friday Festival

Friday Festival: Desires

February is the month of longing.

In a long winter, we long for sunshine.  In unusual political times, we long for clarity.  Valentine’s Day can leave us longing for love, companionship, or just a really fantastic cupcake.  If we raced straight from Advent to preparations for Lent, we long for quiet, and a moment to breathe.  If surgery has been on the schedule, we long to move without pain, and to feel energetic again.

Our wise bloggers write about different desires this week.

New mom Traci Smith is longing for us all to have some sense when we talk to pregnant women.  We’ve all learned not to pat pregnant women on the belly (we have, haven’t we?) but we haven’t learned what to say.  Smith says that people still say things like “Wow, you’re enormous!”  Or, perhaps, “Wow, I hope you don’t have the baby right here!” “Are you sure there’s only one baby in there?” “You’re gigantic!” “You look like you’re about to pop!”  Smith adds, “Unsolicited comments about the size of one’s belly are never welcome, but for some reason, people feel like pregnancy is an exception to this rule. Few people would walk up to an overweight person and say “Wow, you’re ENORMOUS!” Yet to pregnant women, it happens all the time. Baffling.”

Spoiler alert:  Smith advises that the proper comment, for all situations, even when something else pops into our minds, is: “How are you feeling?” or “You look beautiful/healthy/happy/wonderful/radiant” or “How is everything?”

Valentine’s Day can be blissful – or hard.  Tara Ulrich longs for a wider understanding of the day, and for us all to see our worth outside of traditional romantic pairs.  She reminds us, “today especially I need each of you to continually remind me that I am one of God’s beloved. I need to know that my life isn’t wrapped up in my singleness. I need to be reminded continually that I’m not past my prime. I also need to be reminded that there is even beauty in the uncertainty of it all. (So much easier said than done)…I’m single. Not sick, not a problem and not past my prime. So please don’t pity me on Valentine’s Day, because today of all days, I need your help to remember that my value doesn’t rest in a relationship status, in a box of chocolates or in a red rose. It rests in the fact that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am God’s beloved and His plans for me far exceed the feelings of a day.”

A longing for certainty leads us to interpret some scriptures as fixed, set as guidance for all times and places.  Professor Wil Gafney sets that aside and begins with the provocative title “Jesus Rewrites Scripture and So Can We.”  Looking at the scriptures from Matthew 5 where Jesus says things like, “You have heard it said…but I say…” Gafney reminds us that Rabbi Jesus is interpreting the scriptures as he teaches.

She adds: “Jesus is our example in all things. He is out teacher, our rabbi. We are to do what he did to the best of our ability. In this case, that means we are to wrestle with scripture, wrestle with the meaning, and when necessary, wrestle a blessing out of it, which means wrestling with those bruising passages that have been used to hurt us and so many others. That includes some of today’s lesson, verses of which have been used to keep folk in unsafe marriages, or ostracize other marriages, even in church.”

A longing for perfection leads Rachael Keefe to reflect on her lack of singing ability, and then to realize that the desire to sing is part of a deeper issue.  She shares with us that “It was the desire to be perfect that was my personal demon. If I’m honest, it still is on occasion. During my teen years, I was so enamored with the idea of perfection that I nearly traded my life for it. I was driven by the idea that if I were perfect, then I would not feel pain and I would be loved.”

In a stable job, we long for room to be creative.  As freelancers, we long for stability.  MaryAnn McKibben Dana explores the different joys of being, as she calls it, “a free-range pastor.”  For anyone pondering a change of vocation, she says, “I love my quirky unofficial parish. I’ve been called upon to pastor people in a whole range of settings: walking the kids home from school with a gaggle of parents, via Facebook message, and even while running—trying to explain the Reformation while running a hilly eleven-miler was a special challenge.”

What are you longing for in these February days?  Let us know, and share your hopes, in the comments section below.

 

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Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church.  Her greatest spiritual lessons come from being the parent of a teenager.  She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.

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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 Festival: Storytelling

The annual RevGalBlogPals’ Big Event (BE 10) has just concluded, with this year’s program on storytelling led by Casey FitzGerald.

Sidebar: If you’re a member of RevGalBlogPals and you’ve not yet attended a BE, make a note somewhere on your Summer 2017 calendar with this reminder to yourself: “Register for BE 11!” and plan to attend the 2018 Big Event.

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photo/meme by Marci Glass

To continue BE 10’s storytelling theme, here are stories currently being told across our RevGalBlogPals’ blogging network:

+ Kathy of God of the Sparrow wonders if it’s time to learn to be a risk-taker, as she reflects on growing up “under my skittish grandmother’s care … she gave us each only one skate, fearing that to skate on two would land us face down on the pavement.”

+ Aileen of Aileen Goes On is sharing her stories of depression, beginning in the early years: “The first memory I have of profound sadness…begins on one unforgettably horrible night in 1971.”

+ Derek of Tales from the Great Adventure tells the story of a recent moment in an adult Sunday School class: “A couple introduced themselves this way: ‘We’ve been church members since around 2006,’ they said; ‘disciples for the past year.’”

+ Cindy of The LaJoy Family shares a beautiful appreciation that she received from her sons, and she reflects: “We don’t often think of people as sanctuaries, and yet we have all had them. … I can’t help but wonder if what we really need is not a ‘safe place’, but for each of us to step up and be Sanctuary People for others.”

+ Kimberly at Consider the Lilies gives thanks for the voice of a good book “that calls to the reader, perhaps makes the mind move in ways it almost but not quite moves on its own, or proposes something totally other, adding depth, perspective, new swaths of horizon, to the ways in which a reader things, creates, acts.” Which prompts the question: What books’ voices are accompanying your life these days?

Have a personal story you’ve blogged recently? Add a link in the comments. Provoked by one of these stories and inspired to share your own? Tell your story in the comments and offer your appreciation on the blogs linked above.

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Friday Festival: A Week like No Other

2013-11-02 17.44.36.jpgThere’s been a lot for our bloggers to reflect on in the past week: the inauguration of Donald Trump, the Women’s March, the barrage of executive orders; accusations of manipulated numbers and alternate facts. Let’s take a quick tour of some thoughts about the week’s events and some ways to keep perspective in a chaotic environment.

Melanie Griffin, blogging at Writing with Spirit, shares some reflections and images from the Women’s March. Some of my favorites were the images of hundreds (maybe thousands), of signs left along the White House fence as messages for President Trump.

Christy Thomas, blogging at The Thoughtful Pastor, sets the events of this week in a much larger context, ranging from a coffee grinder crisis to the rise and fall of societal institutions.

Elaine, whose blog is The Edge, offers a break for some quiet contemplation with her series called #contemplative2017. Each day there is a stunning photograph; sometimes the photo stands on its own, and other times it’s accompanied by a few lines of poetry or prose.

Amy Butler reflects on the importance of the Women’s March for future generations in her blog, Talk with the Preacher.

Sarah SSM makes a connection between the Women’s March and other occasions when she has marched in her blog Sister Sarah’s Excellent Adventure.

In her blog, Random Scraps of Thought, Joylynn Graham makes a commitment to listen to the voices around her, especially those with whom she disagrees. The listening adds depth to her parallel commitment to stand up, speak out, and push back.

There are many other blogs in our ring this week where you can find reflections on the events swirling around us. Spend some time browsing through the writings of your fellow RevGals this week to see the variety of perspectives and strategies represented there.


Barbara Bruneau is a recently retired Lutheran pastor living in southwestern Wisconsin. She is a knitter, a weaver, and a very occasional blogger at An Explosion of Texture and Color.


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 Festival Inauguration Edition

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I am writing and getting ready to post the night before the Inauguration, having just returned from a sparsely attended prayer vigil to discover that the president-elect thinks that a show of military force, tomorrow and in the future, is a way to impress the world with America’s “greatness.”  I am discouraged and increasingly at a loss for words.   

My search of blogs has not revealed a lot connected to tomorrow’s events; I suppose those posts will come this week-end.  By the time that many of you read this, the transition from one administration to another will be either underway or completed.  If you would add to add links in the comments to your thoughts about the ceremonies in Washington or the marches everywhere, please do.

We do have a few writers whose words reflect where we are as tomorrow dawns:

Bonnie in her Books reviews volumes on divides in America – between Black and White and between Left and Right.

Wil in her eponymous blog posts a sermon on Judith and exhorts us to know and act upon the truth that resistance is not futile.

The Community’s Laura Marie writes about our need for more loving hearts.

In Dancing with the Word, Janet takes note of what it means to be called via an encounter between media personality Steve Harvey and the new president.

And in her Journey, Jane writes about taking risks and becoming political. Starting now, starting again, with her daughters, with a march.

Blessings on you during this challenging week-end, wherever it leads you and whatever path you decide to take.

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Rev. Robin Craig is a PC(USA) pastor serving an ELCA congregation in Bay Village, Ohio. She is also a spiritual director, a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and a blogger at http://www.maryrobincraig.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 Festival ~A Week’s Reading Journeys

ashland-trailFriday the 13th?! What are we up to?  Here are seven posts for the next seven days!

While interfaith relationships have been an interest of mine since my middle school days, they have recently become a matter of some personal urgency. Jan in achurchforstarving artists suggests a book on Interfaith Leadership from Eboo Patel, and reflects on how we learn from one another to be who we are.

I suppose that we all have days on which doctrine and rules are at odds with mystery and openness. In Liberation Theology Lutheran, Kristin delivers a poem on her experience of a day designed by Pharisees.

You can find a series of posts on one word each – looks like there will be 365 of them – in Emma’s LLM Calling.  On Wednesday I’m looking at last Friday’s, for which the word is positive but the topic seems to be clarity – my star word, so of interest to me. Perhaps you’ll find some elucidation on your own word in these short poems.

In Letter Box, Michelle of Quantum Theology addresses the spiritual practice of letter writing through a reflection on the prolific correspondence of St. Ignatius.  As another adherent of Ignatian spirituality, I know that he wrote more letters than any other figure in the 16th century western world.  I wonder what our correspondence might say, five hundred years hence, about our lives of faith?

Mary Ann McKibben Dana writes in The Blue Room about ten things which captivated her this week.  I love these sorts of posts, as they offer fascinating insights into other people plus they motivate me to ask the same question about my own life

I’ve been giving some thought to physical spaces of late.  Healthy Spirituality’s Jeanie writes about creating sacred space in the first in a series about intentionally making room for prayer – whether physical or metaphorical.

And finally, in a post related to the many I’ve read recently about New Year’s gratitude practices, Connie wonders whether gratitude can be taught, and muses about the distinction between practice and experience.

Enjoy!

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Rev. Robin Craig is a PC(USA) pastor serving an ELCA congregation in Bay Village, Ohio. She is also a spiritual director, a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and a blogger at http://www.maryrobincraig.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 Festival: Wise Women Think about Epiphany

starBack when I was sending out Christmas cards (meaning: before I entered the ministry), I would often choose an image of the Wise Men for the cover of my card. There was something about the idea of people leaving everything familiar to travel toward something unknown, having only a distant star to guide them, that captured my imagination. This week, several bloggers have thought about Epiphany in a variety of ways.

Julia S, blogging at Faith, Grace, and Hope, remembers her first occasion of sharing Star Words with her congregation and some thoughts about the word that she drew.

Blogging at The Painted Prayerbook, Jan Richardson shares a lovely poetic reflection on the journey of the magi.

Joanna Harader takes a closer look at Herod’s role in the story in her blog, Spacious Faith.

In Write Out of Left Field, Rachael Keefe thinks about the way the magi were changed by their journey and the way she was powerfully changed by a journey she made to Israel.

Kristin Abbott thinks about epiphanies in scripture, in literature, and in bread baking in her blog, Liberation Theology Lutheran.

Michelle Francl thinks about “The Art of Packing a Camel” and the burdens we carry every day at her blog, Quantum Theology.

In her blog called Seeker, Nancy Wallace shares a poem by Christine McIntosh about what we are seeking on our own journeys. When you visit her blog, be sure to follow the link to her post from a year ago, in which she shares her discovery of one of my favorite stories: The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke.

Please leave comments for these bloggers when you visit their sites, so they will know that you’ve stopped by.


Barbara Bruneau is a Lutheran pastor learning what it means to be retired. She is a knitter, a weaver, and a very occasional blogger at An Explosion of Color and Texture.


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 Festival: Buh-Bye 2016, Hello 2017

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For some, the end of 2016 means stocking up on champagne and chips.  For others, this is the time to reflect on the old year, and make plans for the coming year.  Some of us are letting out a sigh of relief at the end of a tough year, and others are dreading the year to come.

What plans, dreams, worries or intentions are leading you into the brand new year ahead of us?  Our blogging friends have wisdom to share.

Ruth Everhart shares her practice of choosing a personally meaningful phrase to guide her through each new year.  Past choices have included “Be Lighthearted and Gracious,” while doing the difficult work of writing her memoir, Ruined.  Other years have been guided by “Do the Work,” and “Love the Work.”  She’s pondering the right phrase for 2017.  What would yours be, if you chose one?

At The Wisdom Years, Mary Elyn Bahlert reminds us of the beauty of looking back at our lives, turning our memories over to see them from different angles.  She writes, “The longest night of darkness has passed, and we begin again the cycle of new light that begins at winter solstice.  The seasons pass quickly…Now that I have entered the wisdom years, I remember other times of my life…Sometimes I choose to look into those events and times again, looking more carefully, from a distance, a distance in time.  I can see my life as seasons, also.”

At Creo in Dios, Susan Stabile leads us away from thinking about accomplishment toward the practice of contentment.  She notes that “Hygge” is a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment and well-being.”  It has also been described as “a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments beautiful or special,” and “the art of creating intimacy, either with yourself, friends and your home.”  Perhaps that’s what we should cultivate in 2017.

If you’re pondering a New Year’s resolution related to your health, at The Thoughtful Pastor, Christy Thomas reveals that walking changed her life this year.  She walked thousands of miles, using the walks as prayer time.  Along the way, she came to understand many things, including the truth that “Losing weight and keeping it off is the privilege of the well-to-do.”

While juggling the demanding work of parenting small children, Messy Jesus Business also claims our attention, and reveals the presence of the holy.  Amy Nee-Walker reflects on the fact that Jesus was nursed by his mother, which prompts a thought about how “Jesus, in his earthly lifetime, lived both sides of the coin of giving and receiving.  This is something we all share with him and each other.”  The coming year invites us all to nurse the presence of Christ – to feed and nurture the divine presence in the world, in our work as parents or friends or pastors, or all of the above.

At the year’s close, April Yamasaki invites us toward gratitude to God with a prayer that will work for a gathering of friends, worship or private reading.

New Year blessings to all!  Let us know your own reflections on 2016, and plans, intentions and prayers for 2017 in the comments section below.

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Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church.  Her greatest spiritual lessons come from being the parent of a teenager.  She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.

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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 Festival: Eve Meditations

The eve of Christmas Eve is waning (in the U.S.’s eastern time zone). For many RevGals who pastor churches all around the world, the final preparations & worship services are nearing completion. The light at the end of the Advent/Christmas liturgical tunnel is drawing blessedly near.

To encourage your spirit’s meditation amidst the busyness of this holy season (or to spark a last-minute Christmas Eve sermon), the writings and musings of RevGal & Pal bloggers are excerpted for this week’s Friday Festival. If you have a bit of time, drop by their blogs to wish Merry Christmas and offer your thanks for their words.

+ Liz at journalling echoes our eagerness for these final eves to break at long last so that we can welcome Christ and realize the salve of God’s mercies:

“Soon?
Soon salvation will come?
How about now?
… Now would be good
for light to come.”

+ Diana of Just Wondering offers a poignant and personal reflection on Advent waiting when the end is near: “Who really knows how much is enough? I don’t have any special insights, only my own bedraggled emotions and growing fatigue. To me, it feels like it is time.” Please read and include Diana in your prayers.

+ Kyle at The Community invites us to consider the passionate love of Christmas’ incarnation: “What would it look if we approached Christmas like a beloved longing for his or her lover? … What if this love is not one of mere sentiment or nostalgia but one of passion and intense desire? Would this change the way we view the coming of Christ?”

+ Erica of Don’t Flay the Sheep encourages churches to welcome children intentionally in worship: “The comment you think is polite, or the eyeroll you thought was subtle might be the final straw for a family that is struggling, a stab to the heart of a parent who is trying their best.” It’s an important reflection worth sharing with your congregation’s leaders to encourage hospitality year-round.

+ For those feeling overwhelmed, Rosa of Las Puertas Abiertas de Par en Par reminds us: “It is good work, the work of keeping watch. My hope for all of us is that we too may see the angels rush in with hands full of stars in the nights ahead.”

+ Finally, this poetry from Maureen at The Pastor is IN:

“Even when we can no longer
See it
Or feel it
Or imagine it
The light
of God
is always there
Carrying Advent
To us
And with us
Wherever we may be.”

Many blessings to you through these final eves before Christmas Day!


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.


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 Festival: Advent continues

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One of the nativity sets from the blessing of the crib scenes at the beginning of Advent

It is late in Advent.  Some of us are weary, some stressed, some relieved to be nearly done. In the midst of all that here is some reading for refreshment.

Rosa shares the beauty of a home visit to a priest with dementia, and the ways the words of Advent engage him.

Melissa shares Joseph’s story, and the change a woman and child make to his life.

Celebrate with Sarah who is enjoying a new baby at her house.  

On Sister Julia’s blog she hosts guest blogger, Rhonda, who writes about porter saints and hospitality.

Marie shares a story of queer holy resistance, and preaches a good word about the Messiah.

Terri shares the challenge of praying for those who trouble us, and speaks a challenging and gracious word into the context of the US post-election.

May you be encouraged by these words from around our blogging community.


Jemma Allen is an Anglican priest and counsellor in Auckland, New Zealand.  Her writing these days is mostly for her graduate research portfolio, but sometimes still on her blog.


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 Festival ~ Advent 2

 

advent-2-2I pulled up last month’s second Friday Festival and discovered that, while I had posted it the night before, I don’t think that I ever actually saw it.  According to my phone, my step-mother called at about 9:15 am on Friday morning and cried out, “Robin!  Your father is dying!”   She was trying, frantically, to find his end-of-life paperwork, as EMTs were at the house doing exactly what he did not want.  In fact, he was already gone, so he himself was not suffering their intrusive thrusting and pounding.  Thanks be to God.

That experience means that the first post I came across this week was particularly meaningful to me, and perhaps to others for whom Advent is, first, a time of loss, as Beth Richardson mediates upon the death of her father.

In addition, many RevGals are writing about Advent practices and searches:

Joy Freeman offers her thoughts on the anticipatory preparation of Advent.

Laurie Brock writes about God’s Advent presence in darkness.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott ponders keeping an open space, a good practice for Advent and all times.

Michelle Francl, too, is looking for the light dwelling among us.

And finally, Rachel Hackenberg is writing beautifully compelling and mysterious Advent poems.  Just read and pray with them all. 

Be sure to add your own links in the comments!

 

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Rev. Robin Craig is a PC(USA) pastor serving an ELCA congregation in Bay Village, Ohio. She is also a spiritual director, a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, and a blogger at http://www.maryrobincraig.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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