Posts Tagged With: women clergy

Friday Prayer: Nonviolent Persistence

Holy Christ, Prince of Peace, Pioneer of our faith, img_1941

I find myself immersed in the words of Psalm 137.

Even though I do not wish actual harm on people or their children or their animals, I can feel the urge – lingering at the edges of the least-evolved, least-sanctified, least-formed parts of my reptilian brain.

I see those who are hurt, who are afraid, who grieve, who are rejected, who are caught in the trap of lives, who have been retaliated against… I cannot count them. Their emotions hit me like waves.

I hear the words of people who said “Chance… not her… won’t matter… economics… emails… alternative facts.” And I long to flip their tables, slap their hands, shriek until their ears bleed.

I am not overcome because I continue to put one foot in front of the other. I continue to resist, to persist, to intercede, to pray against, to lift a fist in solidarity and in peace…

And it is that last part that is exhausting.

How can a revolution be a revelation?

Help me to breathe. Help me to listen. Help me to lift up and build up. I don’t think I can yet let go of the urge to pray for pain and destruction, but I can ask for you to channel this for me. I have the burning. Open for me a way that needs this fire. Open a door that leads to this passion. Open a path that I can blaze, with others, behind you- toward truth, freedom, and life for all creation.

Amen.

 


The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed 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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RevGalBookPals: Healing Spiritual Wounds

Lately, I have been paying attention to negative space. Not just space where the energy is 515o5ugeajl-_sx329_bo1204203200_less than positive, but negative space with regard to art-
making, language, and emotional processing. Negative space focuses on what isn’t. What wasn’t. What didn’t. Wha wouldn’t. Negative space can drive us to the other extreme in all kinds of ways, sprinting away from pain into a overzealous commitment to do the opposite of the thing that scarred us deeply.

The negative space created by a wounding church or hurtful church people leaves space that aches in its emptiness. The echoing lies in the negative space speak untruths about God and about our own goodness. That echo reverberates in our lives- affecting our health, our choices, our habits, our relationships, and our faith. In order to live with this hollowness, we set up a system that feeds on the negative space. But negative space has nothing to give.

3a Carol Howard Merritt writes that people who are inclined toward faith will find themselves at the edge of this negative space, again and again. They long to be filled and yet the echoes of the negative spce seem too broad, too deep, and too loud to be overcome. Overcoming this pain with healing, positive truth is a real and tangible possibility. This is the premise, the structure, and the achievement of Merritt’s book Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church.

Within the book, Merritt shares some of her own story as well as that of others she knows. The pain of church lies, leader deceptions,  and the religious idolatry of the appearance of perfection and prosperity are not the telos (end) of God’s desire for the church or for any part of creation. Resurrection and renewal as a spiritual person, in communion with God and others,  is entirely possible, achievable, and worth desiring. This book teaches those lessons gently, like learning how to swim.

You don’t need to conjure God; you simply need to find ways to awake to God’s presence and deepen your connection. (61)

Beyond her gentle prose, Merritt offers clearly structured exercises for contemplation and action. Her metaphors and examples help the reader sit with pain and roll it over like a stone in the mind. As the hurtful thoughts are rolled, their sharpness slowly smoothes. Their ability to inflict pain dulls.

Merritt’s own story- with the religion of her college years, with her father, with her spiritual journey- allow the reader to see that trauma can cause physical pain, grief, illness, and long-term internal and external work. The act of helping someone else in healing can bring healing to one’s own heart, as she often demonstrates.

Toward the end of the book, Merritt writes a litany of the power of biblical women. She reclaims their stories into her own and sees their strengths as a witness to God’s love and work through women. Merritt’s awakening in this section feels very open-ended, as though she wants the reader to know that she is still healing, still discovering, still being loved by the Divine into a new fullness. And because it is happening to and for and through her, the same is true for you.

I highly recommend this book. It would, in particular, make a good Lenten reading for individuals or small groups. Take a positive step to fill negative space in your life with healing and hope. Reading this book can be that step.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit. 


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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).


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RCL:You have Heard

I apologize to all of you faithful RevGalPals for being so late getting this together. My family has been down qith the stomach bug that is hitting the south in epidemic proportions.

This weeks RCL readings can be found here.oldyoungwoman

There is a picture we studied in one of my psychology classes that has always intrigued me. It was a picture of a woman. The thing about it was it depended on your state of mind which woman you saw. It took me a while, but eventually I was able to switch back and forth between the young and old woman.

The scriptures from the revised common lectionary this week invite us to look at things from a new perspective.

Jesus’ words from Matthew challenge preconceived notions of the way things should be. Over and Over again Jesus says “You have heard it said, but I say.” These words are an invitation to see the world in a different light. These words offer the opportunity to view the world with eyes of love instead of vengeance; with hope instead of fear, with joy not loss. These words offer the opportunity to engage with the world through a completely different paradigm, one of abundance instead of scarcity.

I watched a video in seminary of Walter Wink and his approach to this passage which has changed the way I read this part of Matthew’s Gospel. You can find a youtube video of it here. (It is long, but good)

But Jesus’ words are not all easy to hear. His words of divorce may ring strangely in our modern ears. We must remember that marriage in Jesus’ day was not the same as marriage in most of our societies. Perhaps this was Jesus protecting women in a way that had never been considered?

What things will you be preaching dear pals?

What questions do these scriptures bring to your heart?

Please share your journey through the word with us.


Cardelia Howell-Diamond pastors a small Cumberland Presbyterian Church in northern Alabama. She is the mother of three children, all of which have had the stomach bug back to back since Friday. She blogs at randomrevhd.blogspot.com.


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 “Tell Me Who You Are” Edition (Luke 7:18-35)

Who are you?  Who? Who? Who? WHO?

That is the question asked in this week’s passage (Luke 7:18-35) [Read it here]

To aid in your preparation the folks at Working Preacher provide a commentary and a podcast, and over at Text this Week you can find some other links

Sitting in prison, John the Baptist has apparently had some access to the news of the day. And so he has heard about Jesus, at least enough to make him curious. To assuage his curiosity he sends some of his disciples (and theoretically the source of his information) to ask Jesus who he is.

“Are you the one we are waiting for?” Remember, John has proclaimed that another is coming, one who is greater than John, one who will change the world. And judging from what we read in Chapter 3 John expects that the one who is to come will chop down trees and winnow the grain from the chaff. Now he want to know if Jesus is the one.

How would he not know? Is it just because he does not have first-hand knowledge? (Remembering that in Luke’s account of baptism we have no record of how John and Jesus interact, we don’t know what John’s impression was at that time) Or is there something deeper here. Is it that Jesus only sort of seems to be who John was expecting?

In my first year of seminary (24 years ago now) one of the assignments in Introduction to New Testament was to look at a variety of texts and determine if Jesus is the Messiah that was expected. The texts laid out a “job description” of sorts — and Jesus fails. Not only does Jesus fail to free his people from the Roman yoke and setup a new kingdom like that of David and Solomon, he doesn’t even seem to have that task on his to-do list. John seems to have expected active and vigorous cleansing, more repentance and sin stuff. Jesus doesn’t seem to be doing that either.

Are you the one I was waiting for?

It seems to me that Jesus does not directly answer the question. On the face it is a straight yes/no question. But Jesus says neither of those words. Instead he puts it back on the questioners “Tell John what you have seen”.

He tells them to witness to God at work. He challenges them, and John to whom they will (presumably) report, to see things differently. The answer to John’s question is going, in the end, to depend on John. Can John overcome his very specific expectation and his disappointment to see that Jesus IS the one, just in a different way?

Can we?

We too fall prey to expectations of how God is/will be at work in the world. Are there times we miss what God is doing because it is different from what we hoped for? Are we John, desperately hoping to see one thing, hearing about something wonderful, and wondering what to make of it?

Or are we the messengers? Are there people in our lives asking what God is doing, if Christ is present somewhere and the only answer we can give is to tell them what we see/hear/experience?

[I suspect we are both]

It is often true that we see Jesus, we see Christ, we see God more clearly when we are open to see something other than what we expect. Sometimes that is based on what we experience, sometimes it is based on what we hear from others. But rarely is it actually a straight-forward yes/no question.

 


Gord Waldie is an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Canada, currently in Northwestern Alberta. He shares his life with his partner and their four daughters and blogs (periodically) at Following Frodo or shares his “churchy-stuff” at Ministerial Mutterings


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Monday Extra: Great Thanksgiving for Black History Month

God of hope and grief,
God of power and strength,
God of the widow and the orphan,
God of the imprisoned and impoverished,
God of the poor in spirit, the merciful, the mourning…

God who sees the proud and arrogant,
God who does not forget those who turn away from the one in need,
God who waits to be greeted in prison, in hunger, in hospital, on the corner,
God who grieves the word spoken in hate and the action that excludes…

You are the one true God and it is our gift and right and duty to call upon you here.
We praise you for your faithfulness in history.
We praise you for your prophets who have shouted the truth.
We praise you for your saving action in leaders, in the church, in the community
And for what You have done sometimes in spite of them.

With all faithful people of Christ, with all your children across the world, with all the saints we name now [insert names appropriate to your congregation regarding Black History Month and local observances], with the whole creation, we praise your name and join the unending hymn.

[Insert whatever form of Holy, Holy, Holy you may choose]

God, with our sighs to deep for words, we come to this table
And we remember when it was been closed.
We remember when the invitation was not open.
We remember when the feast was in part, but not the whole.

With gratitude and thanksgiving, we celebrate in our spirits and our bodies that the barriers people erect cannot withstand the Holy Spirit.
With gratitude and thanksgiving, we celebrate in our spirits and our bodies that the prejudices that people hold will not withstand the Holy Spirit.
With gratitude and thanksgiving, we celebrate in our spirits and our bodies that the ignorance people profess will not withstand the Holy Spirit.

We gather here today and we remember Jesus gathered with those whom he loved.
They celebrated the first Passover, that event that marked the move of the people from slavery into freedom.
As they ate and drank their celebration, their actions anticipated the second Passover- from death into life, from fear into joy, from resignation into resurrection.

Jesus took the bread, a food that they as Jews had in common with all people,
gave thanks to you, O God, broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body – given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

After supper, he took the cup- filled with wine-
A drink they had in common with all people.
He gave thanks to you, O God, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Drink from this, all of you; this is a new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
You have brought us thus far and we trust that you will not leave us.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts
That they may strengthen us in the faith, in the fight, and in our freedom in Christ.

Draw us together and bring us ever more fully into being the people you have created us to be.

Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty God, now and for ever.

 

 


The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed 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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Friday Prayer:

During my husband’s first deployment to Iraq, I felt so swimg_2279amped by grief and fear that I would sometimes have to pull over to pray. I sought help for not making an idol of being terrified- giving it my attention, my energy, my time.

I frequently sang over and over, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

I didn’t need the rest of the words, but just the reminder that there is a place to stand, a place of support, refuge, and strength. Everything else is sinking sand- a force that opposes God, waiting to draw me under despair.

God- help me to stand in the strongholds and keep my faith in them. Strengthen me in faith and wisdom and courage to resist the pull of sinking sand. Amen.

 


The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed 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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February Meet-n-Greet

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all our new bloggers definitely meet these criteria!

We have some amazing new members this month! Definitely update your feedly or your bookmarks, because you’ll want to keep reading. Here they are, in their own words:

Alicia at Chasing The Promise: “Working towards living an integrated life means that you’ll see evidence of my passions and my professional life weaved into my postings. I’m a faith engaged community organizer, activist, and co-founder of Center for Inclusivity. The same heart that draws me to advocate for justice, equity, and compassion for all people is reflected in this space. I’m also random as hell with a deep appreciation for dark chocolate, sour patch kids, Jesus, and shenanigans.”

Kwame, also known as Trybal Pastor: “Child of Creator; Guided by Ancestors = Revolution; Empowered by Holy Spirit = Transformation; Liberated by the Orishas and the Lwa=Love. #DecolonizeLutheranism”

Allison of A Girl and Her Gluestick: “I come from a family of Ohioans, but grew up in North Carolina (home of the Avett Brothers and Cheerwine and Cookout). I’ve been wandering all over the Southeast ever since. I majored in religion at Furman University, but was definitely not going to seminary and was for sure never going to be a pastor. (Yeah. Okay.) After college, I signed up for the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Young Adult Volunteer program. The YAV program took me to Nashville and then New Orleans. I’ve also worked at summer camps in both of the Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia.
Now I find myself a seminary graduate and a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Holy Spirit is on the move, and I’m just over here with some magazine scraps trying to make some sense of it all.”

Cheyanne, the Thistlette: “I’m a 23-year-old Christian Feminist and freelance writer with a master’s in TESOL. I have a passion for women’s rights and the church that informs all that I do. I currently live in Shenyang, China with my husband and cat-son.”

 

Welcome, all!

Do you know a blogger who might be a good addition to our blogging community? Have them email us!

 


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: Beyond miracles

dscn6879It’s easy to see, in the stories presented in our texts this week, the miraculous nature of Jesus and not go any further. But I believe our text invites, indeed demands that we look beyond the miracles to see the message – a message of faith, a message of reconciliation, a message of restoration, a message of hope.

Already, Luke is beginning to present the notion of the gospel going beyond the Jewish nation to the rest of the world. The centurion, part of the occupying forces, is noted for his faith in the ability of Jesus to make a difference. The man raised to life is restored to his widowed mother and she, in turn finds a place in a culture that oppresses those of her status.

So, it’s not so much about the miraculous life giving transformations, as the justice of God enacted in every day life – for those in power and for the lowly.

It’s not so much about what Jesus does as about how he calls us to live – in faith, inclusively, caring for the least of these.

How will you relate these stories to the chaos in our world today? Where will you find faith, reconciliation, restoration and hope. What images will you hold up to encourage others to see beyond the story?

  • Pictures and stories of protest against corrupt administration
  • Signs and actions welcoming the marginalised and those discriminated against
  • Exhausted aid workers in their tireless compassion
  • Religions standing and working together through terrorism and loss

How will you preach, how will you live out faith that knows no bounds where you are this week? Please share, in the comments, your thoughts and reflections and the direction you are heading with the text this week.

Working Preacher commentary is here.

Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister currently working on a National Renewal Project in Scotland.  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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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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11th Hour Preacher’s Party: Who are the blessed?

dscn0566As ever, our texts speak into our world today:

What does the Lord require of us? To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly…

And who are the blessed – which groups would Jesus include in the Beatitudes today?

How are you preaching these texts in the light of world events? How is the Spirit shaping our teaching of the gospel?

Please share where you are heading as you prepare to share God’s word. Let’s challenge and inspire one another to be faithful and true and courageous in bringing God’s word for God’s people today.

Discussion on the Narrative Lectionary can be found here.

And discussion on the RCL can be found here.

Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister currently working on a National Renewal Project in Scotland.  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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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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