February 1st, 2010

moon house

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

Before CHPC service started, Karl asked if anyone wanted to be the reader -- Jeff was supposed to but was away.  I gladly volunteered.

The Children's Time basically consisted of him reading 1 Cor 13:4-8 to the kids -- and then telling them that if they're looking for guidance about how to behave lovingly, this is a really good text to start with.

The Scripture Reading followed immediately after, and the first reading was 1 Cor 13:1-13.  So I said, "This is the longer version of the Scripture Karl just read.  I know that we've all heard it many times before, but I invite you to listen as if it is new, to really listen."

I actually lost my place early on, but apparently it wasn't a big deal, since I got various compliments on my reading afterward.

Then there was the Anthem, and the second Scripture reading was Luke 4:14-21.  I thought about saying, "This passage may also be familiar to many of us, and again I invite you to really listen, to hear it anew," but I didn't.  (I also opted not to to try to remove all the gendered pronouns, because I couldn't come up with a way to do it non-awkwardly.)

Karl's sermon was titled: "Justice With Love" -- about how justice needs to be rooted in love.  For much of the sermon I wasn't really into what I felt was a false dichotomy -- because he was pitting Paul against Jesus and duh, Jesus didn't see the justice work he was engaged in and advocating as being other than rooted in love -- though I do agree that justice work should be rooted in love (esp. given his point that people who have been oppressed often just perpetuate those patterns once they are in a position of power).

Early on in his sermon, Karl said that the Corinthians passage is about "willing self-limitation so the other will be enriched."

Benediction: May you be for the world light, hope, and even salvation.

After I got home, I emailed Karl:
During Coffee Hour today, both Liz and Mary (independently) told me they thought I should be the lay reader all the time.  I said I didn't know who to bring that up with but that I was on board with that :)

Of course I don't want to stand in the way of anyone who also really enjoys lay reading, but it's one of my favorite ways to be involved in church, so I'm really happy to do it more often if there are people who are on the rotation just because they feel like they "should."
He replied:
Thanks for your willingness.  It’s really important that we involve as many people as possible in the leading of worship so I don’t want to limit to one person.  There is some early conversation happening about expanding the role to do much more of the liturgy.  That will be high on the list for the new Session to think about.
Erm.  I don't think of lay reading as "leading worship," since it's just slotted in, and I am really not interested in crafting liturgy -- okay, that is a lie.  Getting to make everything connect thematically and have it all be theology/language I like is really appealing.  I am more interested in things like adjusting the talking/silence balance (Confession time, anyone? I believe I have talked about my feelings about this here before).  I think my resistance springs from not wanting to have to write liturgy (which I feel like the Liturgist -- a rotating lay position at FCS -- does, but at CHPC all the prayers are from books anyway, so it would be totally reasonable for me to pore over resources, and I half-expect that what Karl means is just having people standing up there speaking, not even necessarily being involved in the actual crafting of the liturgy ... which I obviously have mixed feelings about.  Really all my rhoughts and feelings about church boil down to my wanting it to be done "my way," with other people doing the work in the areas where I feel I do not have the appropriate gifts.)

We have Annual Meeting next Sunday, and the following Sunday we resume our Adult Ed study of John Shelby Spong's The Sins of Scripture (which I am almost done reading -- the benefit of some long train rides recently).  I think I need to come prepared with notes/agenda for each of the chapters so that there is at least a hope that we can focus on building things up rather than just commiserating about those horrible people who use the Bible as a weapon.

I am developing a sense of liturgy or something, because the order of worship at CHPC is grating on me in a "I don't worship optimally this way" -- beyond just my opinions on the actual words of the prayer.

I have so many ideas (and even energy) about how to make worship service here better, but I feel like I don't get a response when I raise stuff (admittedly I'm usually raising it by being like, "XYZ sucks; I wish we would do PQR," but I usually attempt to modulate it some -- and really want I want is a congregational conversation -- if the congregation isn't interested in the kinds of stuff I'm interested in, I can just leave or whatever, but I feel like no one cares about anything and I am so not inspired to stay ... except then sometimes we have good conversations and I get all excited).  I'm slated to lay read on March 28, so maybe I will set that as my deadline at which point I'll call it quits if I feel like nothing's happening.

"Do not be afraid for I am with you."
-Jeremiah 1:8

"The saving presence of God renders every perceived inadequacy irrelevant."
-Anathea Portier-Young
Before service, I asked Tiffany if I had a lay reader bulletin -- she had completely forgotten that I'd agreed to lay read that night.

She said, "I'm glad you're coming to dinner."  I had a moment of being confused, because of course I'd be at dinner -- especially since we had a meeting afterward.  I told her that I'd met someone on Friday who knew I was really involved with church and who asked me if I had a leadership role, and that it wasn't until I saw Tiff's email Sunday morning that I was like, "Oh yeah, I'm on Finance."

From Tiffany's facebook:

sermon in a nutshell: Being called is hard....it sucks...look at Jesus.
Sunday at 7:19am ·
10 people like this

Okay, so that is not really the core of my sermon...just a few notes I had written early in the week that made me laugh this morning as I re-read them.

What if sermons were only the notes?
Sunday at 7:21am
The lectionary texts were Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Luke 4:21-30.  The Jeremiah one was done dramatically by Tallessyn and the girls, and I read the Luke.

Tiffany began her sermon by talking about how she and David Kim were seminarians who had a great idea but both thought they were not equipped to lead this church they had dreamed up.
She talked about the idea that they'd had.
"There's never been a gay rush on  Reconciling church and Dave and I thought that had to change."
But even as this idea they had had turned into reality, they were certain that they couldn't fill the pulpit.
That's how Reconciling Saints Sunday was invented -- out of desperation, trying to find someone to preach.  They honored Jeanne Audrey Powers -- "And you still couldn't get her to preach," Marla said.

Tiffany said, "our perceived inadequacies are of no consequence to the Divine."
She talked about denouncing that which is not of God and announcing what is -- about woe and weal.

One of her themes was that being a prophet doesn't end well.  She told the Luke story -- about how you would think that everyone would be like, "Wow..." and at first they are, but then they say, "So are ya gonna heal me Jesus?  --  What's in it for me?"
She said, "It doesn't end well -- just keep going in that story."
I thought silently, "But Jesus doesn't actually get thrown off the cliff.  Oh, you mean the Crucifixion.  But there is the Resurrection."  There was a pause, and so I said out loud, "It depends on how you define The End."

She talked about how being called is hard work.

She said, "The Good News -- see, Elizabeth, I wasn't done with the sermon (me: "I know") -- is that God empowers us."
She talked about how God deconstructs and reconstructs our self-identity.

"God's presence makes our task possible, but not easy."


During Prayers of the People, Michele lifted up Basement Kitty.  I said, "My roommate was asking about Basement Kitty last night!"


The D.S. met with SPRC last Wednesday and announced our interim pastor -- Nizzi Santos Digan, who's full-time at Saugus and is a friend of the congregation.  Marla said, "Her language is not always where our language is, but her heart is where our hearts are."

Marla said that when Nizzi was asked, she, like Jeremiah, said, "Why me?" said, "There are more progressive people in this conference" -- to which Will said, "No there aren't," and Marla said, "That's what I said."

Later, Marla said that Nizzi had said she wanted there to be a lot of lay preaching -- which is great, because there's so much that we need our pastor to do, and she's only quarter-time with us, and we have so many gifted preachers within our congregation, so we had been hoping for that regardless of who we got appointed.

Friday night, my mom forwarded me an email [NB: This "George" is not my brother, duh.]:
I saw Joe at George's wake tonight. He asked how your sermon had gone and I said I'd send him a copy. He's giving the eulogy tomorrow for George.

I thought you'd like to hear you're admired :)
Below was JoeF's reply to an email my mom had sent him with my sermon text:
Thank you, Barbara.

Right now I am keeping my focus on tomorrow's service, but I look forward to reading this before the weekend's over. Like her mother, Elizabeth is someone I very much admire.
[CWM] Charge Conference/Church Council: Join us for a congregational meeting in which we elect our lay leadership, pass our budget, and discuss new ways for our congregation to be in ministry.
During the budget portion of the meeting, Marla said that she had talked to Martin about pension contributions -- that because Nizzi has a full-time pastorate that is putting in to her pension fund, it would be inappropriate for us to also put in to her pension fund.  Marla asked if we could take the money we had budgeted for a quarter-time pastor from mid-February through June and put it toward Tiffany's pension.  Martin said that if that money found its way to the pension fund before Tiffany's last day as our pastor, that they wouldn't turn it down.  Marla said that we didn't contribute to her pension until we were mandated to by the conference -- that Tiffany had resisted their even talking about contributing to her pension fund, because she knew the financial situation of the church -- and that the money we would be putting in now for these few months still wouldn't compare to the years and years we didn't, but that it would be a token of our appreciation.  ♥

Hello, First Church!

I'm writing to you, the congregation, to invite you to participate in a prayer rotation if you are planning to attend next weekend's FCS Re/Treat at Friendly Crossways (Feb 6/7). The Deacons will be setting up a quiet prayer space that will be available throughout the retreat for prayer and reflection.

We hope that the space will also have a person from the congregation present for as much time as possible to be a prayerful presence in the space.

Everyone is invited, If you feel called, to sign up for a 1/2 hour slot in the prayer rotation. I'm sharing this sign-up sheet with all of you. You can sign up for multiple slots if you wish; you can use the slot to be in prayer with others, or by yourself. We will have options for many different types of prayer. It doesn't matter if you don't know how to pray, or what to say. It only matters that you are present.

It may happen that not every slot is filled; that's ok. Also, if you're not coming on the retreat, but feel called to set aside one of these slots to pray, wherever you may be, you should feel free to do that as well.

Any questions, let me know.
Looking forward to Re/Treating with you!

Click to open:

    * Prayer Rota at FCS Annual Retreat 2010

Voicemail my brother left while I was at CWM: "Hey, Elizabeth, it's George.  Figured I would tell you before our parents told you, that I went down to St. Louis this weekend and now I'm engaged.  Just thought you'd be excited for me.  So feel free to give me a call back or not, whatever.  Anyway, yeah, bye."


For years, JohnP. (from UCN) has said that he sometimes does work on my campus and he'll stop by.  This morning he actually did.  Hugs!


Ben and Peter are having a wine tasting connected to one of their class sessions this week, and so Peter was telling Scott about it (Scott's taking their class) and I automatically pulled up his Google calendar to see if he was available at that time (hi, I am an administrative assistant) -- but Scott did actually know what his plans were.
We joked about this after Peter had left, and when Scott was looking at the calendar he pointed at "A Farewell Open House for Pastor Tiffany and Her Family" on my calendar and made sadface.
I told him I actually can't make it, and I told him about coffee with Tiffany last Thursday and being invited to the leadership farewell dinner this coming Tuesday, and how I was like, "I'm part of the leadership of the church?  'Cause I'm on Finance?"  Scott was like, "Of course you're part of the core leadership of the church."


Edit: I am heading to bed early tonight, but literally for the rest of the week my plans every night are "church" (effectively) --
Tuesday: CWM leadership farewell dinner with Tiffany
Wednesday: Rest and Bread
Thursday: CAUMC young adult small group (I assume)
Friday/Saturday: FCS prayer retreat (5pm-5pm in Harvard, MA -- about 45 miles away)
Sunday: church