Monday, July 28, 2008

On the 2nd day she rested

What a week it was! I realize that today (Monday) is technically the 2nd day of the week, but the last 8 days have been so emotionally up and down, draining and exhilarating, that I feel as if I am resting even though I'm in the church office right now and have lots to do. But at least the stuff I have to do is regular church stuff . . .

Last Sunday we had Children! in church, and it was wonderful. The not so wonderful part is that on Tuesday the father of several of those children called to ask me a favor. He told me they had lost a child 10 days earlier. He was 4 months premature and lived on machines for just 2 days. The funeral was to be Thursday morning. He had just learned that the person scheduled to do the service had cancelled. Would I? Of course I would (while mentally disemboweling the person who cancelled! Who cancels on a baby's funeral????) We planned to meet on Wednesday to talk about the service. Wednesday evening the wife called from the emergency room - her husband and 3 sons all had food poisoning. Could they meet me after they were released? When the husband called later, I told him to go home and rest - everything would work out. I had spoken with the funeral director, knew where to go, and knew that only a graveside service was planned. As Disciples don't have anything like a Book of Common Prayer, I was busy thanking God for the Chalice Worship and the resources in it.

The morning of the funeral was a beautiful, sunny Southern California day with minimal smog as I drove through LA on my way to the cemetery. Everything went pretty well up to the end of the graveside service. Then . . . the hole was too small and had to be re-dug. The chains around the tiny casket and vault got stuck and had to be yanked out of the grave. When the front-end loader showed up to dump dirt into the grave, I walked away to be near the parents, who had walked away some few minutes earlier. How hard it is to be comforting to the family when what you really want to do is snatch up the funeral director and shake her until her teeth rattle!

Friday was entirely different. I was blessed by the opportunity to perform my first same-sex wedding. Two women who had been living together faithfully for 25 years were finally being joined together in the eyes of the state. I believe God had been blessing their relationship for a long time. There were some challenges with the wording of the service, and the standard Certificate of Christian Marriage I had in my desk had to be completely re-designed. Rainbow Pastor of Revgalblogpals was a great help there.

Then came Sunday. A wonderful celebration as my congregation burned our paid-off mortgage, preaching by our Regional Minister, a pot luck dinner that couldn't be beat, and LOTS of children! In the evening I had a speaking opportunity at a 12 step meeting.

Not surprising that I feel whupped. And blessed. I am blessed by the opportunity to be there for a family in pain, and by the opportunity to bless the union of 2 faithful Christian women. I am blessed by the words I heard preached, by the love of my congregation, and especially, by the work I have been called to do by a loving God. Where else could I get so many opportunities to share my love of God and my faith in the healing power of God's Word with others?

So today I "rest." And plan worship for Saturday and Sunday, and return a bunch of phone calls and and and . . wait to see what God will bring me this week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

There are Children Here!

My congregation has been pretty much children-free since the two families who had young children had to relocate for their jobs. We've had one young man, recently turned 5, as a regular congregant for the last year or so, but that's been about it.

Imagine my delight, then, when Sunday morning worship included 3 adults and 4 young boys who had just moved into the neighborhood! Imagine also my quickly scrambling brain figuring out where best to place a Children's Moment in the morning's service. Having decided that (after the anthem, before the sermon) I started thanking God for RevGalBlogPals Saturday 11th Hour Preaching Party, where a number of Children's Sermon ideas were posted for the very passage I was using.

When the time came I invited all the children big enough to walk to the front of the church under their own power to come join me on the steps. We talked about playing Hide and Seek, and how easy it is to hide successfully from the seeker - and how hard it is to find someone who doesn't want to be found. Then I asked "Where can you go to hide from God?" One of the boys said "You can't - God is everywhere, and always knows what we are doing." Another said "God always finds us so he can protect us."

Who needed a sermon after that? I preached anyway, but those two boys grasped the point perfectly. If only all Children's Moments could turn out so well.

I anticipate that the families will return. They did enjoy the service and the fellowship and one of my members went to them and offered to take the children and teach them in another room during worship, which really made the parents happy! I also anticipate that I will then become one of those preachers frantically seeking an idea for a Children's Sermon at the 11th Hour Preacher Party.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where have I been?

I can't believe I haven't posted anything to my blog since May 3rd! I've updated the church website "religiously" every week. I've popped my head in at RevGalBlogPals on Saturdays for the Preacher Party. But I haven't kept up my blog. I've been busy doing other things.

I find that's the way my life goes. I'll start doing something really good for me and be diligent about it for a while. But then I get sidetracked by some other interest and whatever I was doing before just seems to fade away. The thing I don't understand is why it's always the things that are good for me that fade away? I'll journal for a few months, then stop. I'll read a daily meditation for a few months, then stop. I'll be positively obsessive about self-care for a little while, and then stop. Not just get a little less obsessive but stop altogether.

My relationship with God seems to follow the same pattern. I'll spend time in prayer and meditation daily, asking for guidance for the day for months on end. And then something happens to disrupt my schedule and suddenly I find that I haven't sat on the patio with God and the bunny rabbit in weeks or months - just kind of go feed the bunny and start doing something "important." And of course, when I'm not doing that, my life suffers. Tiny problems are magnified. My relationships with other people falter. All the other self-care stuff I want to be doing stops being done.

I feel a little like Jacob, who when awakening from his dream of the ladder, said in surprise "The Lord is present in this place and I didn't know it." Jacob was used to thinking of God as being in the place where his family was - where they prayed and made sacrifices. He may have even felt that when he ran away and left his family behind, he was also leaving God behind. The Lord is present in places other than my patio - but if I'm not spending time out there, I feel as if I'm not spending time with God.

Today I think I'll remember that the Lord is present wherever I am, and not just on my patio. And I think also, I'll go spend some time outside enjoying the bounteous beauty with which God blesses us daily.