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Sunday Prayer

img_1786Traveling God,
You find us,
wherever we are,
when we are toiling,
numb to the possibility
that we might be called
to belovedness and belonging.

Your call is so urgent, so clear
to leave what we know
to discover that what seems impossible~
justice, mercy, love,
equality,
kin-dom
is your complete and possible dream,
and we can be a part of it as we follow You.

Gather us up
as your disciples,
Bind us
together in peace,
Irritate us
so completely
that we give all we have
to be healers
of the breach,
the offerers
of grace,
the voice
of hope.

We pray, O God, for those
so broken,so longing
to heed your call,
but simply can’t because of what oppresses them.

We pray, O Christ, for those
so disempowered and angry and hurt,
that all they can do is defend and perpetuate.

We pray, O Spirit, for those
who have no heart or hands or will
save our own, as your disciples.

We pray…
for our world.
for our country.
for our earth home.
for our children.
for the sick and lonely,
the disengaged and angry,

Help us to remember
that we belong to You,
and we are beloved,
and we are Love.

In the name of Jesus our brother and friend,
Amen.

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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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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 Prayer

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Why is it
that so often
when I set my mind and heart
to pray,
I am wordless?

It doesn’t come easy.
In my silent meditation,
I search for how You might be leading me
to revelation, to resolution, to renewal,
but mostly
I end up just
remembering that I need to stop at the store
to pick up milk and cat food,
thinking that I should go to the gym this afternoon,
and honestly, peppered through the wandering,
I do come back to You.
Well, kind of.
I wonder about You.
I sense your Spirit hovering,
right at the crown of my head, at the back…
Jesus pounds on the walls of my ribcage,
exhorting and cajoling
me to think, to do, to love.

Oh sweet Lord.
Hello.

Amen.

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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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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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Narrative Lectionary: New Year’s Day

Who’s preaching New Year’s Day? Are you doing anything to mark the beginning of a new year?

The NL gives us Luke 2:21-38 and the lovely story of Simeon and Anna.

Simeon says this:
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’

Will you be using one of the musical arrangements of the “nunc dimittis” (now you dismiss) in worship? Any great arrangements you have to share with us?

simeon-anna

Church of St Mary, Llanfair Kilgeddin, Monmouthshire, Wales                                      photo by Martin Crampin

Luke does not record Anna’s words as he does Simeon’s (and all women say ‘big surprise’). What do you think she might have said?

Where is the Spirit leading you this week? Please share your ideas, your questions, your Time with the Children ideas, and anything else that might be helpful.

 

 

 

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Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood and the Mission Agency Board of the Presbyterian Church USA.

Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book,There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).

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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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The Pastoral Is Political: Last Christmas

Christman Advent WreathAs I stood looking out at the congregation as we held our candles and sang Silent Night late Saturday evening, a sadness fell onto my heart.  What will next Christmas look like?

I didn’t feel like I could sing the carols with a sense of joy or relief.  Worry about what the next years will look like clouded my ability to hope in the way I wished.

Will Christmas be drastically different in the future?  Will the shift in our political system cause less people to have jobs next year?  Will more people suffer because of a lack of health coverage?  Will our loved ones who are racial, ethnic, or religious minorities experience greater levels of oppression because the incoming administration?

And then my overly-anxious inner 10-year-old wonders: Will we all be alive?

Late in the morning on December 22, the United States president-elect tweeted the following: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”  This mirrors the sentiments of the current Russian president.

I thought the prospect of using nuclear weapons was well behind us…

I grew up at the very end of the Cold War.  Movies like Testament and The Day After still haunt my memories –  even now that I’m in my forties.  How could human beings do this to one another?  I thought to myself as a child.  Will I grow up to experience adulthood?  I don’t want to die…

During these tween years, I would read Matthew 24, which would not dissuade my fear at all.  Even the Bible predicted such calamity.

And while I eventually learned that the Bible was written in specific contexts to specific groups of people, I know that “nothing is new under the sun” (to echo the words of Ecclesiastes).  Again and again, people found their demise in wars, and even mass extermination occurred at our hands with our missiles in 1945 Japan.

Could our country massacre an entire region of people with one directive?  Will we be at the receiving end of one of these bombs?

Here we are back in a Cold War wilderness.  Here we are in wandering.  Here we are waiting to see the Christ light through the fogs of human-induced hate.

This is when we desire that the wilderness texts of the Bible give us the hope we need.  Isaiah 40:6-8 states:

All people are grass,
   their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
   when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
   surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
   but the word of our God will stand for ever. (NRSV)

Logically, I highly doubt that a nuclear war is in our future.  Yet the powers-that-be will use this to send powerful messages of fear, and that will play with the emotions in our hearts and souls.

And we sit with the wilderness Scriptures.  No matter where we are in our growing or fading, or what may come upon this, God’s comfort is with us.  God’s peace surrounds us.  Admittedly, sometimes it’s tough to see this comfort around us when our fear is so great.  So we light the Christ candle and we take that light into the world, hoping it will shine brighter than before, that nuclear winter will be a fear of the past, and that springtime resurrection will appear for us once again.

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The title of this post, Last Christmas, is in memory of musician George Michael who passed away on December 25, 2016.  While the 1980’s gave us terrifying movies like The Day After, the decade also provided us with enjoyable music from great artists like George Michael, Prince, and David Bowie whom we mourn this year.

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The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Old Blue Rock Road in Cincinnati.  Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.  Torigian blogs at www.michelletorigian.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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Wednesday Prayer

megarbo-supermoon

photo by Meg M. Arbo (used with permission).

 

The moon set this morning, as the sun came up.
A long illumined night giving way to the brief shining of this day.
Help me God,
to  hold the dreams of my sleeping,
and sift through the message your angels wrought last night.
Help me God,
in the blue bright of daylight,
to be your Message of awareness, love, and hope
in all that I say and do (o.k., at least most of what I say and do, because, you know, human).
Help me God,
through the daily grind, the musts, the should, the need to-s
to give over to Mystery and Delight, to Sorrow and Ache,
and all that is in the exquisite in-between.

Amen.

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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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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 Prayer

img_0035It’s a grey sky, leafless kind of day, God…
A day for multiple cups of herbal tea trying to warm up and into the moment.
A day for mulling, with a crocheted afghan pulled over my lap,
wishing I might just close my eyes for a nap or two hour snooze to escape
from
the
mass
inside my heart
that is tangled
and impenetrable
and full.

It’s o.k., I know,
to stop here for a while and swallow my tea,
and feel all the feels, even if they are amorphous and silent.
It’s o.k., I know,
to recognize what is inside, even though I don’t understand.

My prayer is not to tarry too long, though,
in my bleak innards,
because You call me in spite of,
You call me because of
all I am and am not in this moment.

You call me to serve, to share,to give, to do and to be your Love
wherever I find myself.
Move me, Sweet One,
empower me, use me, awaken me,
to all that surrounds me, to all around me
that need You,
through me.

Amen.

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Rev. Karla Miller is Minister for Community Life at Old North Church UCC in Marblehead, MA, on the lovely north shore of Boston.  She is a contributor 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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Narrative Lectionary Leanings–Remember

For some of us, this weekend is World Communion Sunday. Our text for Sunday is from Exodus. It is our first dip into the waters of this book, having finished Genesis last week, and we are dropped right into the instructions for the Passover.

Will you do some interpretation to get people from A to B? Or just let the text stand on its own?

Exodus 12:1-13 and 13:1-8

Working Preacher’s resources are here.  The Text this Week is here.

As we’ve been hearing the story of the people of Israel, I keep thinking about which stories in our lives we lift up for posterity. Moses instructs people in this text to “remember”. We never just remember something from the past. We always remember it and interpret it in light of where we are now.

The other place Christians often use the word “remember” liturgically is at the Table, when we remember Jesus, the night he was betrayed…. And at the Font, we tell people to remember their baptisms.

I was an infant at my baptism, so I don’t remember it, exactly. And I wasn’t there the night Jesus was betrayed. I wasn’t there in Egypt either. And yet, I can remember, I can connect those stories to my story today.

Where does the text speak to you today? Where are you leaning?

Please share ideas for Children’s messages. And if you celebrate World Communion, those ideas may be helpful for others too

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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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The Pastoral is Political: Don’t Tell Us How to Dress!

pexels-photo-65977-large

Imagine if you were at a beach, wearing a bathing suit that made you comfortable. The government had just passed an ordinance that women were not allowed to wear tops at the beach. While many women would be absolutely comfortable with this new law, most would feel uneasy baring one’s top. Police got wind of you being at the beach wearing a traditional two-piece bathing suit. They order you to remove your top. You refuse as you know you would feel extremely vulnerable allowing your breasts being uncovered. After your refusal, the police then rip off your top allowing your chest to be bare to anyone who walks by.

When I see the photographs of the Muslim woman at the beach in Nice, France being forced to remove the outer covering of her Burkini so that her arms and neck were bare, this is how I imagine she may feel. I can imagine that she felt violated by both officials and the eyes of the people around her. To her, having her arms uncovered by the Powers That Be is the same as if officials came and forcefully removed the tops off of many of us.  Just like the woman on the Nice beach, we would be ogled at our most vulnerable.

But criticism is also focused at those who dress less modestly as well.

Each year, at least one story floats around online about how a teen girl is told by her school that their dress to prom is inappropriate.  She is instructed to leave the prom, missing one of the most important moments of her young life. Sometimes, the criticism focuses on a detail of her dress that most of us would find insignificant: her straps show too much of her shoulders or her dress is too short.

Criticism of women also extends to our sisters who are breastfeeding or those who are wearing inappropriate clothing for their aging body or after weight gain.  When all is said and done, we might as ask ourselves, will we as women ever stop being criticized for what we wear?

Nothing is new under the sun; women have always been critiqued for what they wear. 1 Timothy 2:9 states “the woman should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothing…” Likewise 1 Peter 3 notes “Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing.”  While it does say that beauty comes from within (“let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.”), this text does not give permission to the woman to dress in the way that she herself feels the most comfortable.

Men’s restrictions on their dress in the Bible are quite minimal compared to the dress codes for women. As we continue to navigate ourselves in the 21st century, those who identify as male are restricted even less than those who identify as female.

But if men and women are both made in the image of God, why do we hold women to such different standards? Shouldn’t women be allowed to wear what they want as well?

While all women are vulnerable to attacks on their appearance and the ideal balance of appropriate outfits, the intersection of gender with race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity is required to be recognized.  For instance, our African American sisters’ hair is often criticized and even limited in some work situations.  Even males who are racial minorities, religions besides Christian, and gay, transgender and queer are criticized more than males who are cis-gender white, heterosexual and Christian.

Ultimately, I believe that God is calling us to be our most authentic selves in the way we dress.  Romans 12:1-2 says:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Maybe it’s our job as the church to help each person in the world find their most authentic style without being shamed.  Whether a woman is dressed in a beautiful burkini or very baring two piece, maybe we should honor wherever she is today, helping her understand grace when others are throwing shame her way.

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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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The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Old Blue Rock Road in Cincinnati.  Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.  Torigian blogs at www.michelletorigian.com.

Categories: RevGalBlogPals, The Pastoral is Political | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sunday Prayer

treeftsewallSabbath Maker,

Sabbath Healer,

We come to you this morning with so much on our hearts and minds.  We gift you deep thanks for these moments of respite and quiet, where we can enter into your Holy Presence, and be touched by your healing spirit.

We offer to you our prayers for the world today.

We pray for the ravaged lives and land in Louisania where flooding waters have killed and ruined homes and injured countless.   We pray for the rescue workers and first responders.

We pray for the torn lives and land in California, where raging wildfires have consumed households and devastated lives.  We pray for firefighters and those involved in recovery and rescue.

We pray for all those places in our world where the terror of war is a reality.

We especially pray for Syria, whom many of us were reminded of in the photograph of a small child sitting alone, in shock, injured and bleeding from the bombing of his apartment building.  O God, when will warring madness cease, and peace become a true path?

We offer to you our prayers for those around us, those whom we know are suffering, who are afflicted and afraid, who need your healing touch and care.  (Silent Prayer)

We offer to you our prayers for ourselves.  Release us from the constraints of dis-ease in our lives.  We pray for the courage to be your Sabbath people who bend towards love, towards mercy, towards humble justice, and loving care.   (Silent Prayer)

We pray this prayer in the name of Jesus the Christ, our brother and friend.  Amen.

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The Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church, UCC in Marblehead, MA.  She is also 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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Sunday Prayer

By faith,

Your people have followed you through parted seas and wild deserts,

By faith,

Your people have waited for walls to fall down and drenched raging fires.

By faith,

Your people have been imprisoned, persecuted, and left to wander and perish.

 

By faith,

With faith,

Through faith,

We long to be your people, too.

We know there is a cloud of faithful witnesses hovering around us,

cheering, cajoling, leading, praying, hoping, walking, running with us

as we persevere living into your call upon our lives.

We pause, and give thanks for those in our clouds of witnesses……

(silent prayer)

By faith,

With faith,

Through faith,

We offer ourselves, sprinters and dancers, trudgers and slow walkers to be part of Your cloud of witness in this world, and in the lives of others….

May we make peace, where we can.

May we live for justice, where we are called.

May we speak out, when silence participates in oppression.

We pause, and prayerfully ask you to speak to us, to lead us to where and to whom You are calling us to be your Cloud of Witness….

(silent prayer)

By faith,

With faith,

and Through faith,

We pray this pray in the name of the Author of our Faith,

Jesus the Christ.

Amen.

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The Rev. Karla Miller is the Minister for Community Life at Old North Church, UCC in Marblehead, MA.  She is also 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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Categories: clergy, clergy women, RevGalBlogPals, Sunday Prayer, women | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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