Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Seeking simplicity

I find myself irritated by the long lists of things that must be completed by the end of this day. Like many of my friends and colleagues, I am frustrated because I remember a time where I relaxed into and soaked up this time of Thanksgiving. I recognize that the dream sequence in my mind of "Christmas Story' like muted colors and bells chiming in the background is really in my head. But the longing has tapped a deeper need.

When our lives are so full- full of lists, of planning, of visits, or caring for others, of planning others' time of space and worship... the need to be embraced by the holiday of security and warmth only grows.

It is often a struggle to find Holy Ground during these holidays (not to mention good holy grounds- that weak Lutheran coffee only abounds!) especially when our feet rarely touch it.

May your longing reach out to others who are longing also- as our souls seek a place of warmth.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Giving Thanks

The Friday Five this week invites us to share (at least) 5 people or things we are thankful for. I imagine that you would also find, as I did, once you begin this list, there are certainly more than 5 items that line up. I invite you also to consider and actually write or verbalize these things for yourself and for your community and loved ones.

I give thanks to God for these things:
1. For life, for breath, for the opportunity to live in the love of God.
2. for the opportunity to serve as pastor for this congregation of wonderful people.
3. For my family- my husband, my sweet puppy, my mother, sister and brother, my extended family- they continue to shape who I am.
4. For my friends, who are my family as well. Even though distance and time may separate our friendship, we still remain close in our hearts and minds.
5. For the privilege to write in this space. To have the opportunity to use and own a computer, to have the funds to use the internet. To have the freedom to speak my mind and my heart. This is not something I take lightly- many do not have this chance.

the rest, well, I look up, see all that surrounds me, and I give thanks.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gifts of the Spirit

The Gifts of the Spirit are an amazing thing. The beauty of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control encounters us in many ways.

A new encounter greeted the Thursday morning women's group as they came into church this morning. The gifts were written on brightly colored poster board, and "self-control" covered the rather large hole inadvertantly made by a young man at confirmation last night...

Ah, the gifts of the spirit, they come to us in so many ways!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Holy Ground: Sweet Land

Films, whether Hollywood, Independent or Foreign seem to be released in a "feast or famine" trend in this society. I will go months without any one catching my eye (which could, of course be related to the fact that theater (singular) has one per week and the cinema 6 is 30 miles away) and other times, like this month, there are a whole host of films I can hardly wait to experience.

I have seen many great films in the past couple weeks, but the most wonderful was, this past Sunday in the 'big city,' Sweet Land.

This achingly beautiful film lifts up tension that was felt in the 1920s and is still felt today. The need for community, for love, for compassion and for hope is so amazingly brought together in this film.

Of course, the beautiful farmed prairie also hit my heartstrings as I was treated to images of home. If you get a chance, experience this movie.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A November morning

Today I received an unexpected gift. The gift of time. With this unexpected gift, the gift of sunshine, of a clear, crisp day, a finished sermon and a great cup of coffee has me taking deep breaths for the first time in a while. (deep breaths also due in part to the fact that my head cold has finally declared a retreat)

What beauty is found on these cold autumn days. Even though snow has come and gone a few times, it is still autumn. Even though this far north the trees have long since lost their leaves, the beauty of this season is evident.

The beauty that is the birdsongs around the feeders. The beauty that is the woodfire smoke in the air. The beauty that is the crisp breeze that sharpens the skin and tingles the nose. The beauty that is the hearty bowl of soup that energizes the whole body.

There is a clarity that comes with this time of year. When one can see, hear, and smell for miles. Sometimes this stark clarity can be difficult and can feel like a death of summer.

But for most who live in northern climes, it is permission to experience the world in its simplicity. What a gift.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Where are all those pastors going?

I came across this post in a fellow blogger's musings- and it rang quite true. The Post while not authored by this blogger is sparking good conversation. And it reminds me of an earlier post I made in August, Industry: Religion.

It comes at a time when I feel like the program director of this congregation rather than the pastor. It is so difficult to find the time to develop my own spiritual capacities so I can minister to others. Rather, my time is spent fundraising, finding youth and sunday school curricula, hiring staff and organizing.

At seminary, I would often ask for classes in non-profit management and administration. As the daughter of a pastor, I had an idea that this would be necessary. To a time I was told not to worry, someone in the congregation would have expertise on staffing, finances and education. No classes on that here, just study your Hebrew.

Now, I would never trade my study of theology and Bible, but this seems to be an outright denial of the pastoral call as it plays out in congregations. My previous experience working at a non-profit helped my make some initial good decisions in administration- the rest, well, they come from a personnel savy husband, a book and gut feelings.

If I was called to "schedule, mediate and administer the programs" I would be less likely to find myself tired, sick and dreaming of a job on CSI where the cases are solved in 1 hour with commercials.

But my letter of call says "preach, teach and admisister the sacrements" to be a pastor to the church of God. If the former job description is a part of this call, let's just name it for all the future pastors.