Thursday Prayer

When it all gets to be too much,

When the worries large and small wash over us,

When the last straw happens and keeps happening,

When we don’t have a chance to catch our breath,

Be our deep breath.

Be our persistence.

Be our burden-shoulder-er.

Be our holder-upper.

Thank you.

Amen.img_0187

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as stated supply pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Luling, TX. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.


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Wednesday Prayer

img_1866

I believe
in spite of all that is laying around everywhere in the world,
the “can’t make this up” stuff,
the angry shouts and accusations and confusion and LOUD CACOPHONY
that threatens the peace of everything,

that You are weathering this with us.
You wrap us up in your Heart.
and then You nudge us off
to do the work,
to go many extra miles in these extra ordinary times,
to persist, resist,
to heal, to listen
to give, to offer,
to welcome,
to FACE whatever,
knowing we wear Your face…
and when we are tired,

You wrap us up in your Heart
and hold us,
and we weather this together.

Amen.

******
Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the North Shore of Boston.

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RCL: You Shall Be Holy

Sometimes Scripture gets a little obvious (even heavy-handed), as it does in this coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary texts:

“You shall not deal falsely.
You shall not lie to one another.”
(Leviticus 19:11)

#guilty

“Do not boast about human leaders.”
(1 Corinthians 3:21)

#beentheredonethat

“You shall not profit
by the blood of your neighbor.
You shall not hate your own kin.”
(Leviticus 19:16-17)

#colonialism #capitalism
#whiteprivilege #racism

“Give to everyone who begs from you,
and do not refuse anyone
who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:42)

#godblessthechild

“Do not deceive yourself…
for the wisdom of this world
is foolishness with God.”
(1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

#everydaystruggle

“Love your enemies.”
(Matthew 5:44)

#notevenclose

…and this doozy…

“Be perfect therefore as
your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:48)

#goingbacktobed

236a8-holyHow’s that going for you, the whole “perfection” commandment? How’s it working out in your ministry to “love your enemies”? What are you experiencing in the world’s inclination to “boast in leaders” and its preference to “profit from the blood of your neighbor?”

Let’s consider those questions momentarily rhetorical.

Try this one instead:

When Scripture is so obvious, do you preach an equally straightforward sermon?

#notmycontext

However you preach such ethical admonitions as these, let’s backtrack to their theological foundation:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
“Speak to all the congregation of the people
of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy
for I the LORD your God am holy.”
(Leviticus 19:1-2)

breath windowYou shall be holy — not by your own merit, not as an individual, not for the purposes of self-righteousness — but holy because you belong to God who is holy. Or, to borrow from John 15, you are within God who is holy, therefore you shall be holy because God is within you.

You shall be holy, and holiness looks like:

love of enemies,
foolishness for holy wisdom,
hearts set on God more than fear,
spirits of humility and honesty,
abundance for the poor
and welcome of the
foreigner.

#anyquestions

You shall be holy, because holiness is the way of God; holiness is Supreme Love and Divine Justice in action.

How will your sermon this week call people to model God’s holy ways? What other strains of God’s story are singing to you from this week’s RCL texts? Please add your reflections in the comments to share the work & wonder of preparing this coming Sunday’s sermon.


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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Tuesday Prayer

broken-heart

Dear Friend,

On this day when some celebrate love with chocolate and flowers and diamonds, I am thinking of hard love

love that really listens

love that cries together at a death

love that does the rough work of agreeing to disagree

love that looks forward to an uncertain future

love that works, apart and together

love that doesn’t have a tidy boundary of marriage or label

love that brings the bandages

You modeled that love for us.

We thank you.

Amen.

Mary Beth Butler is an Episcopal layperson in North Texas. She is a retired university administrator, paving contractor, hospice volunteer and occasional blogger. She is leading her parish’s refugee ministry. 


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Narrative Lectionary: Wiping Jesus’ Feet

Resisterhood.

Resisterhood

In a week where persisting is all the rage, it’s hard not to approach this text thinking of the United States Senator Elizabeth Warren being warned by Mitch McConnell not to read a letter about a controversial appointee, Jeff Sessions. It has become a rallying cry, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

You could say the same about this “certain immoral woman” with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. She persisted as she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. She persisted as her tears fell on his feet. She persisted as she wiped those tears off with her hair. She persisted as she kissed his feet and put perfume on them.

She persisted.

As an answer to the Pharisee’s complaint about the “immoral woman,” Jesus told a parable: a man loaned money to two people, to one a smallish amount, to the others ten times that amount. Neither could repay. Which one loved the man more?

And while it’s a great story of persistence, I wonder if that’s too easy. Yes, there’s a political undertone to this Sunday’s text (you can read it here and read the Working Preacher commentary here).

But Jesus’ politicizing is not like ours.

After telling the parable, Jesus goes on. He points out that the host has overlooked an important cleansing ritual, a sign of honor and hospitality. Then Jesus talks about the woman (yes, he talks about her with her standing there) and he calls her a “sinner.” But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say that her sins were “many.”

Miroslav Volf, in his book Exclusion and Embrace, says core of Jesus’ message was two-fold: divine love and the need for repentance. In other words, Jesus taught us about God’s unconditional love and that we are sinners.

We don’t ever talk about the poor needing repentance, do we? We don’t talk about the marginalized being sinners, do we? If Jesus shared today’s liberal ideals, he would be saying that the marginalized need justice, that they need healing. Not that they (or we) need repentance, and not a “radical alteration of the course and direction of one’s life, its basic motivations, attitudes, and objectives” but, as Volf says, “repentance implies not merely a recognition that one has made a bad mistake, but that one has sinned.”

Mind you, though. The sins committed by the marginalized were not the sins that the religious people were pointing out to them, like breaking the purity laws. Nor were their sins in a vacuum. The marginalized “commit sin” and “sin is committed against them.”

Volf says this: “The truly revolutionary character of Jesus’ proclamation lies precisely in the connection between the hope he gives to the oppressed and the radical change he requires of them. Though some sins have been imputed to them, other sins of theirs were real; though they suffered at the sinful hand of others, they also committed sins of their own.”

Whew. I’ve been so busy seeing her marginalization, I haven’t noticed her sin. Let me rephrase that… I’ve been so busy seeing my own marginalization, I haven’t noticed my own sin. How shall I repent from that?

What about you? How will you be preaching this text?

Here are some other ideas:

  • The woman gave what she had. How do we give “what we have?” to Jesus?
  • The woman was shunned by the Pharisee. How do our churches shun sinful women now?
  • Jesus saw her sinfulness, but he also saw her goodness. How is that working in and through our political system now? Can we see the goodness of those we’re othering?
  • If we write about persistence, what shall we persist in?

And preaching women, one more thing, if I may. I have notice that I am very tired, and I’m aware that our political situation is going to last a long time… Have you scheduled some way to take care of you this week?


Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).


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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The Pastoral is Political: Squad Goals

elizabeth-warren-tweetThere were plenty of things about what happened to the Honorable Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, that got under my skin:

  • the way the old boys called her out to protect their friend and colleague,
  • the racist history of the nominee she opposed,
  • the fact that they silenced her while she read a letter by the late Coretta Scott King.

Yet nothing about it frustrated me more than looking at the list of the senators who voted to silence her by a count of 49-43. The senator we used to call “moderate” and “reasonable,” “centrist” and a great representative of my former home state of Maine, was on that list of 49. Susan Collins was not the only woman to vote to silence her colleague, but it was her name that lit my fuse. If women won’t let women do their work, what chance do we have of getting men to let us do it?

You see, it was not too long ago that a female colleague silenced me by hijacking the end of a meeting.

The circumstances were less public, but the assumption that a different voice should take priority was identical. Surprised, I did not try to get the attention of the gathering again. Cable news was not waiting for me outside the Senate chamber, as was the case for Senator Warren, but friends expressed their annoyance at what had transpired. I later learned that she doubted my capacity to lead the group simply because I did not match her assumptions about leaders. I was not tall, or loud, or strong.

It’s true that I am neither loud nor tall.

It’s also true that it’s not the first time that while leading this ministry, designed to offer resources and community for women in ministry, I have been undercut by a female colleague who made a remark about my height or my voice. I expect that kind of nonsense from men; a (tall) male colleague once joked that I should stand on a chair to be seen in a room full of pastors at a denominational meeting. Did he intend to undercut what I planned to say, or was he just horsing around? It didn’t matter. In that case I had a reputation, and others listened. In this more recent case, I must admit, I had to ponder the meaning of what I had been told. Why do women apply a standard to each other drawn from a masculine model for leadership, a model of height and volume as the measure of power and strength?

Sisters, we need to do better.

In a season when the world is in turmoil, and the church has struggles of its own, we have important work to do on behalf of Jesus Christ. We need to encourage, embolden, and inspire one another.

If I could, I would declare these our squad goals:

  • to elicit leadership that is not modeled on the tropes of white, straight, cis patriarchy;
  • to kindle more networks that highlight the effective and faithful work of women;
  • to exhibit respect for voices and accents that may not sound like ours; for energy that may not be on the same wavelength as ours; for strength that may derive from patience, intellect, warmth, and perhaps particularly persistence.

I continue to ponder the negating description offered to me. Although an intended compliment followed on the opening salvo, it never had a chance of landing. You don’t lift a sister up by putting her down first.

And you might miss something important if you impose the power of your voice, or your vote, to end the conversation.


Martha Spong is the Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals, a writer, and a clergy coach. She stands 5′ tall, knits socks for anyone who asks for a pair, and is a verified ecclesiastical badass. Follow her on Twitter @marthaspong.


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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Monday Prayer

Holy One
Thank you for the gift of persistence
now more than ever,
today, and always…
Amen

persistent

 

 


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


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: Life and Death

At your command, O God,
heaven and earth bear witness:

We sing of love
but romance death.

We reap in faith
but sow distrust

We pray for peace
but cherish gossip.

By your grace we would follow
heaven and earth’s witness:

Saying “no” to evil, to spite, to cowardice.
Pledging “yes” and “yes” to life before the throne of God.

Yes and yes to life in common purpose
with heaven and earth.

Yes by God. Yes to God.
Yes, Holy God. Let your wisdom be vindicated

as we dance in life, weep in life,
hold fast in life, and die in life. Forever in your life.

Let heaven and earth bear witness.
Amen.


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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Saturday Prayer: God of Tomorrow

We’re asked to stay here, focus here, remain here in this moment, blessed Christ. But it’s too much. 
I need to dream of a better world, I need to think of how this will come to pass. I need to remove myself from this moment. 

Because here sucks. 

The world is falling apart and there is a ban against people and everywhere I turn there is something else to upset me. And I can’t. 

So I’ll stay here for a little while and then I’ll daydream of what the next thing can be. I’ll start to feel helpless and then I’ll look around for a new project. I’ll pray but about a distant place where your peace reigns. A future of light. 

I’ll pray for someday. I have to pray for a better tomorrow because today is a disaster. 

God, help us! Amen. 

The Reverend Shannon Meacham is the mother of two exhausting children Maggie and Gus, and she currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog pulpitshenanigans.com.

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11th Hour Preacher Party: Choosing Edition

An inconsequential party game to start off:

  • Would you rather eat Valentine’s conversation hearts or marshmallows? 
  • Would you rather take a 30 minute nap in the morning or just go to bed 30 minutes earlier that night?
  • Would you rather vacuum or dust?
o3etgcu

These are the Valentine conversation hearts referred to in the question. 

As you may surmise, I’m pondering the Deuteronomy passage from the Revised Common Lectionary, wherein the Israelites are asked to “choose life!” The other RCL lectionary texts include a third week in the Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 3. A discussion of those text can be found at the RGBP Tuesday post. Or if you’re a Narrative Lectionary preacher, you are working on John’s question to Jesus: are you the one? Conversation about that is at this post.

What are your choices as you ponder your sermon? What do you need help with? What help can you offer? That’s what the 11th Hour Preacher Party is here for, so let’s share our ideas and resources.


Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as stated supply pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Luling, TX. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.


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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