Leading the Contemporary Service Meditation (or, Mrs. M Lands Hard on her Metaphorical Heiney)

Hack, sputter, cough, and then spiritually and mentally keels right over.

I've been at Intern Church for about 3 weeks. Was asked to lead the meditation
(which takes the place of a sermon in our contemporary service) on Saturday night. Had a week's notice. Did a lot of thinking, found how the passage spoke to me.

And then was too scared on Saturday to effectively evoke the same wonderings. Panicked. Cut myself off. Felt cut off before I started.

I have three months to work with a group of people radically different from me
(young vs old, urban vs rural background, Anglo-Catholic vs more evangelical)-- which in itself is a miraculous statement. Also terrifying.

I think I'm called to be (in the most loving way possible) a questioner. Called to explore with people. I'm interning with a patient, probably introverted soul who doesn't seem to think that's something I should bring to her parish-- which is fair. 3 months isn't enough time to cultivate trust, and I feel caught between "why aren't you doing anything?" and "we don't do that here."

I meet with Rev. Supervisor tomorrow, and I hope this is something that we can talk about. I'm not sure we're effectively communicating with one another right now, and I hope we can understand each other better.

QUESTION FOR THE REV GALS: Have you worked under clergypersons with whom you had difficulty communicating effectively? How did you improve the situation?

Working What Works

Some of you know that I have an eclectic spiritual background (am a complete mutt). Church of Christ (not UCC, but rather the form that looks like Southern Baptist) pseudofamily, Catholic grandmother, evangelical schools, Quaker husband, self-help mother. (This, is course, is great training ground for an Episcopalian.)

That having been said, I've practiced my faith in a variety of different ways. Everything from the extemporaneous "Jesus, We Just" prayers (as a lovely deranged PCUSA minister I know calls them) of lower churches to silent mediation in Quaker meeting to nightly rosaries with my grandmother.

I have had mentors of a variety of denominational flavors encourage one kind of prayer over another. While I agree that it's important to seek God in new ways, there's a lot to be said for the comfort of consistancy.

Rev Redhead (a truly exceptional pastor) said once that you absolutely have to be faithful to the daily offices, because it's such a comfort to have them in place when you need them. The sentiment rang true, and I've scouted out different ways to make that work for me.

What I've come back to more than once is adapting the offices to the Anglican rosary. The nightly rosary is the most positive memory I have with my grandmother, and certainly the most peaceful. I identify it with quiet and reflection, with safety.

I've adapted "Daily Devotions for Families and Individuals" (BCP 136), which are shorter forms of Morning, Noonday and Evening Prayer, as well as compline. I'm going to go back and make some language adjustments using "Enriching Our Worship," but overall I'm just pleased to return to what resonates.


Us and Them (Plus a Very Off-Topic Bonus Gloat)

The bonus gloat is this: As I type, I'm listening to the audio recording I made of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's sermon (he consecrated our new bishop last weekend, it was fantastic). My tail is about to wag right off my butt.

Meanwhile, back in real life...

I'm hearing so much "us and them" lately. Partly because of the upcoming midterm elections, but also in social spheres.

I visited an older woman today, who said she wishes they'd keep national and international news out of the newspaper, because she only wants to know what's happening locally-- or at least in the United States.

I listened to a group of (WASP) Christians speak disparagingly about "Southerners," and then in the same breath heard them say that they can't understand why a "black man would run for office in Tennessee."

I'm co-leading Adult Formation on other faiths, and I was discouraged from pointing out that our video explained Judaism from a Christian perspective-- possibly not telling the story the same way a Jewish person would.

I want to love. I want to be respectful. I want to be in relationship. But I don't like to consent through silence to this American-Christian view that we're the only important people in the world. I want the freedom to speak-- and I usually take it, but I won't as a guest in someone else's parish.

I spent time with a wonderful woman on Monday who has the same concerns-- that our arrogance, and our self-concern, are not at all Christlike. Our self-righteousness is dangerous, and pride goeth before the fall. Would that we would all identify it in ourselves. That when we pray each week, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us," we would consider how we've trampled other people's boundaries, their safety, their dignity.

Forgive us. For what we have done, and for what we have left undone.


Another (Belated) Friday Five

1. Comfort beverage
Hot cocoa. Um, sometimes with Baileys.

2. Comfort chair
Chair? Are you kidding? If there's a need for comfort, I'm snuggled in bed under the duvet.

3. Comfort read
Jennifer Cruise. She makes me laugh, and she makes me love her characters.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
The Golden Girls. It's nuts, but I used to watch it when I was little, and it's what I want if I'm sick or stressed.

5. Comfort companion(s)
Sometimes Mr. M. Mostly just myself, though. I manage to eek out more peace in solitude.


Technically, I re-started my internship on Oct. 1, but this week it really felt like I kicked into it. It feels really good. The parish is tiny, but warm and openminded. I'm seeing things I'd begun to worry didn't exist in churches-- vunerability and openness, flexibility about the details. It's going to be a lot of work, and I know there are hard parts everywhere, but I feel so comforted by this space.

A beautiful part of my day today was that Mr. M and I went to a church supper. A wonderful older woman spoke to Mr. M, and I thought she told him to take good care of me.

Turns out, she told him they were going to. While it is NOT a congregation's job to take care of their clergy, it's a lovely thing when they care for them.