The Quixotic Pastor

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Angel Dog Goes To Church

Shhhh!!!! Don't tell my mama I'm playing on the church PC ... she'll yell at me and tell me to go lie down.

This past Sunday, I went to worship with my mama, Rev Dona Quixote, to be blessed, whatever that is. I had never gone to worship with her before ... she says I may never go with her again, but we'll see. I'll just wiggle my butt at her ['cuz someone docked my tail so I can't wag what I don't have] and bark and get all excited and Mama Dear Heart will talk her into taking me along.

Mama Dear Heart went too ... and that nasty dog Boy they INSISTED on taking! He's a golden receiver --much more a receiver than a retriever-- and all he does is drool and pee. Yucccckkk! Because he stinks, he had to ride in the back of the pickup in a kennel, but I got to ride in the backseat, 'cuz I know how to behave in a car. You're just supposed to sit down, stare out the window and nose-print and fog up the glass, and occasionally lean into the front seat to give kisses. Besides, I smell like a dog supposed to, 'cuz I don't pee on myself. I know this, but Boy doesn't. I would have much rather they'd taken Pooter, the big fat gray tabby cat [he and I have an understanding] or even Corky, the Spazz Kitty Calico who is just plain WEIRD, but they didn't ask me.

Anyway, when we got there, Mama Dona said something about setting stuff up. Then other people --and other dogs!!!-- started showing up. There was Nina, who Mama Dona petted and I snapped at 'cuz she's MY mama and just who does this other dog think she is???!!!!???

... and Bailey, the little golden Peke that looks like a dustmop with a cute perky expression. And Jack and LC, the little fuzzy poodle-looking doggies. Fred, a big, black quiet Lab mix ... and Cody, a little Jack Russell who was very nervous about all of us and kind of a mama's boy. He had to stay in his kennel.

There were no cats, at least not in person, so to speak, I'm sorry to say, because I like cats [they taste like chicken ... except for Pooter and Corky of course] but two ladies did bring pictures of their two cats for blessing. They were handsome kitties too, Lill and Chloe. Wonder what they taste like ...?

Anyway, we all gathered outside in a circle, and then Mama Dona started talking. Loudly. About God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit --that's a bird, but no one brought any birds with them. Then all the people sang. Mama Dona wouldn't take my leash, even when I barked at her, and I gave Mama Dear Heart fits, pulling on the chain ... but the good news is that Mama Dear Heart gave Boy away to one of Bailey's moms so I received Mama Dear Heart's undivided attention!!!! I had to snap and bark at that Nina dog a time or two, just to keep her in her place, even though she was clear across the patio from me.

It really concerned me that Mama Dona was ignoring me and giving attention to all these other animals!!!! At one point, Mama Dona went to that Nina dog again [!!!!] and petted her head and told her she was blessed in the name of God, and then Mama went to almost every other dog before she went to me --only Cody came after me --what am I, chopped liver????!!!!??? I barked a lot trying to get Mama's attention, and Mama Dear Heart kept clamping her hand around my muzzle and hissing at me [Mama Dear Heart has this thing about the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan] but I .... WANTED... MY... MAMA.

Finally, Mama Dona took my leash --O Happy Day! I laid down right next to her feet, while she passed a basket that the humans put money in and I was the happiest dog in the world! No need to bark, just lie there and grin. Mama Dear Heart gave me a really dirty look.

But, that didn't last long. Mama Dona and everybody talked together, then everybody else was quiet and shut their eyes while my Mama talked ... then I had to go back to Mama Dear Heart.
Then Mama Dona went to the table and broke some bread!!! Wooeeee!!! Food!!!! Mama Dear Heart and I went up to get some, but Mama Dona wasn't going to give me any! Mama Dear Heart slipped me some anyhow, even though Mama Dona said no --Mama Dear Heart is such a softy when it comes to treats. [Later, on the way home, Mama Dona explained to Mama Dear Heart why she shouldn't have done that, but Mama Dear Heart didn't agree ...]

Then all the humans sang some more and hugged each other and petted us ... then we all went home.

I'm not sure how I feel about this experience ... except that now I know why Mama Dona leaves early Sunday morning and doesn't come home until Sunday evening and I have to watch for her by the front door all day ...

Oh no! Here she comes!

Angel!!!!! Get off!!!! Go lie down!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ministry: My Role, Your Role

This is a two part worship series I am looking at for November 12 & 19, how the ministry of the pastor and ministry of the laity complement one another --and how both are important to the fruitfulness of any given faith community's ministry.

Why this, why now?

I feel called to do better at leadership through self-differientiation [thanks Ed Friedman]. I have some sins to confess and there are changes I must make. I have also watched one of my colleagues and one of our local faith communities experiencing the aftermath of her resignation ... and had someone in one of my churches speculate to other church people [not, by the way, to me] that I might resign my current pulpits to seek that one. [Nope, no intention of that.] I also know that it is time to find some new leadership within my congregations and be more intentional about involving more folks in its workings. It seems like a good time to explain that one reason why pastors resign is because sometimes they cannot live up to the unreal expectations that are placed on them, and to explain what is realistic and what isn't.

My thinking about all of this is just in the very beginning stages, so I welcome the comments of the Revgalblogpals. Think of it as a major opportunity to vent --then reflect! I am particularly interested in the comments of those of you who have done this sort of thing before ...

In the meantime, I have a 3 part series on homosexuality and the bible to get through for October, a guest preacher for whom to handle the logistics, and a niece's wedding to attend.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Five

Here's the latest Friday Five from Revgalblogpals: on BooBoos!

1) Are you a baby about small injuries? Nope, not in the least, I'm a stoic --except, why does a paper cut hurt more than so many other bigger things?

2) What's the silliest way you have ever hurt yourself? Oh dear, there are so many to choose from:
a. When I was a very little girl, I was running in the house with one of those small paintbrushes in my mouth, like the kind they use to paint model airplanes. Of course, I fell on my face, and the paintbrush was impaled into the back of my throat. My mother convinced me to stop crying, laid me on my back across her lap, made me open my mouth wide, examined me ... and just pulled it out. No big deal after all.
b. I burned my knees once when a plate full of hot ravioli slid off the plate in my lap onto my thighs when I sat down in one of the chairs in the living room. I cried then, but because I was angry at my brother and Dad, both of whom laughed!!!!
c. I was roasting a mershmallow at the gas stove on a fork. After I had eaten the marshmallow, without thinking I attempted to lick the fork ... I actually heard my flesh sizzle when the tines contacted my lower lip ...

3) Who took care of your boo-boos when you were a child? Generally my mother, with neither too little nor too much fuss. My dad and older brothers had a favorite saying: "Oh I've had bigger places than that on my eyeball." That's probably why I am such a stoic.

4) Are you a good nurse when others have boo-boos? I generally do pretty well, except that I do not tolerate whining well at all.

5) What's the worst accidental injury you've suffered? Did it require a trip to the Emergency Room? I've made three trips to the emergency room in my life, once after a car accident and two due to knee injuries. The car accident was probably the worst. At 16, I rear-ended a pinto in my mother's VW beetle, and my forehead hit the rearview mirror so hard it bent it back into the windshield which shattered! I was a bloody mess. It's a miracle I didn't crack my [extremely hard] skull, but I have this crescent shaped scar in the center of my forehead from the gash, which required 14 stitches. No concussion either. Amazin'

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

4:00 am musings

Woke up about 3:45 to go to the bathroom and now I can't get back to sleep ... so here I am.

Several revgalblogpals have been lifting me and especially my one congregation up in prayer and I do SOOOO appreciate that. I think the healing service I did last Sunday [for the church who had a congregant murdered] accomplished some of what I wanted it to accomplish. I wanted to assure people that God desires righteousness and justice to happen with this event just as much as She does in all things, and that She would see to it that it was done. I let Scripture "do the talking" just as much as I could, so that, for instance, I utilized Psalm 27 for the call to worship/commission and blessing ["The Lord is my light and my salvation ..."] and the texts for the sermon were from Lamentations, 2 Corinthians and the Beatitudes.

I wanted to lay the groundwork for the multitude of conversations I know I will be having with different folks as things [hopefully!] progress in the criminal case. I also addressed the practical issue of how grieving a sudden death resulting from a crime is different from grieving a death due to natural causes and that the process is extended when crime is involved. I warned us that the multitude of questions won't probably be answered until/unless there's a trial, if even then.

The only thing I have not done that I want to do is contact our Regional Elder [in our denomination, she's kind of like a Bishop] and check in with her. I suspect other MCC pastors have had this experience during their ministries and I want to know how they coped.

Of course, if any of you revgalblogpals have the experience of ministering to a grieving family/congregation when homicide has been involved---'specially some of you chaplains out there-- I certainly would appreciate your advice!

One thing that bugs me about this is that some people are forgetting the humanity of the man [he was a congregant too] who did it. I wonder if people are even remembering that as Christians we pray for our enemies and those that persecute us. So I am praying for the man who probably did it that he will come to his senses, confess his sin, turn himself in, take responsibility for his crime and do the time. At the same time, when I am at the church building alone [yes, the doors are locked], I find myself looking over my shoulder, wondering if he is still in town. Rationally, I'm pretty sure he got the hell out of Dodge and went some place less "hot" for him ... but that's one of those as yet unanswered questions I mentioned above.

I keep thinking about various scenes from the movie "Dead Man Walking". One of the things that strikes me about Sr. Helen Prejean's death row ministry is that she is interested in "restoring humanity" --not, perhaps, the best phrase but at 5 am I'll keep it. She strives to get criminals to see the humanity of their victims, to come to grips with how they lose their own humanity when they dehumanize others. She strives to get the system to remember the humanity of the inmates. She strives to assist victim families themselves not to become dehumanized by an often dehumanizing process. For her, dehumanizing humanity is a grave offense before God, but not one beyond the reach of God's grace ... that there is redemption for even a murderer, the possibility of making a monster into a man or woman again.

I can hear my DH snoring ... think I'll go join her in our nice warm bed. Maybe I'll sleep late .... if the phone will let me. Thankfully, this Sunday is our Blessing of the Animals service, so there's not going to be a sermon, just dogs. and cats. wonder what else?????


Friday, September 15, 2006

Whew! What A Week

Yesterday I woke to a phone call that one of my congregants appeared to have been murdered in her bed, possibly by her live-in boyfriend, also a congregant. Two of her adult children are congregants. Many of her friends are congregants. I spent just about all day Thursday with the family and people involved.

Folks in this congregation are basically shocked at this point in time. So, in light of our little faith family being touched by violence --as well as one of our sister congregations experiencing a robbery at gunpoint at one of their major fundraising events-- I'm planning a kind of healing service for this Sunday for this congregation. I just want to remind us that God is with us in this experience. I don't expect to accomplish any healing per se, so much as to start the process ... and get people talking about it in a positive way, I hope.

The other congregation still gets "Mountain Sunday," so I am working on two completely different services and sermons for this Sunday.

If you are reading this, I solicit your prayers, not just for me, but for these congregations as well.

Famous Friday Five: Brushes With Greatness

Ooooh boy, after yesterday do I need this!

Reverendmother wrote... In the coming days, I'll be meeting my creative/artistic role model--a singer-songwriter who has been a part of my spiritual journey for some 10 years now. I'm psyched!

David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so...

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.

I felt priveleged to shake the hand of Bishop Gene Robinson at a gathering almost two years ago near Detroit. He's famous whether he wants to be or not, bless his heart.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.

Melissa Etheridge, because she seems so grounded and down to earth. Garrison Keillor. Lance Armstrong.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.

Hmmm, that's a difficult one. I tend to think there's lots of great people out there ...

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?

Maybe not famous people, but people who matter to me and have been instrumental in my life's journey. I would like to get an autograph from certain Detroit Pistons, Tigers or Redwings for DH --it would absolutely make her day, and I would score major points!

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?

I don't want to be famous --I would rather be influential, which doesn't necessarily require fame. I want to remembered for improving people's lives, whether it is helping to win civil and ecclesial rights for GLBT people or working to change the current politics of our country by creating other viable political parties besides Democrat and Republican ... and addressing some other issues as well.

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?

I certainly agree about Paris Hilton. I also thought John Mark Karr received wa-a-a-y-y-y more attention that was warranted.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Longing For The Holy Mountain

Today, I have begun my worship preparations for this Sunday. In the Season of Creation, the 4th Sunday is "Mountain Sunday". So I begin by exploring Scriptural mountains ... and I am particularly intrigued by the concept in the prophet Isaiah's writing re: the "har q'dosh", God's Holy Mountain, especially in chapter 65 verses 17-25. Of course, there's also the Mount of Transfiguration in the Gospels ... and the Mount of Olives, where Jesus customarily retreated to pray during his Jerusalem ministry, and from where [I think] Jesus ascended after his resurrection, so the Mt. of Olives is also Ascension Mount. And there's Mount Ararat, upon which Noah's Ark came to rest, and Mt. Horeb and Mount Sinai ... and so on and so on and so on. Lots of material to choose from!

I have lived in flatlands most of my life --Michigan's Saginaw Valley may be the flattest of all, although most of Dallas comes pretty close-- but I love the mountains and have experienced many a vacation in the Rockies and even one time in the Alps. [In fact, I think I'll get DH to sort through some of our mountain shots from Glacier National Park for the bulletin cover.] My favorite part of the Tour de France is the mountain portion, because I am flabbergasted that anyone could climb those steep grades on a bike.

Why do mountains lend themselves so readily to the Divine, to the sacred? I suspect first that it is because they are literally "higher ground", closer to the heavens which in pre-scientific cosmologies were the abode of God ... second because they represent clear vision, unimpeded by obstacles ... third because, even today, at least above the treeline, they are generally places of solitude ... fourth, because they are places of awesome, awe-full beauty.

But what is best to me about Isaiah's concept of the holy mountain is not that it is a mountain, but rather that it is a place of shalom! a place where we will neither harm nor destroy, a place where a new heaven and a new earth meld into a single blessed reality. O how I long for a different kind of world from the one in which I live, where violence and hatred and indifference and all kinds of sins abound. Ever so often I find it --or rather, it finds me.

There's a song that I haven't heard in awhile, and I do not know who performs it, but the refrain is "Why, O why, why would I ever want to leave, leave the peaceable Kingdom." We trade the peaceable kingdom for a false sense of security and trade love of neighbor for greed for things which ultimately do not satisfy ... we leave the peaceable kin-dom every day, because we're afraid of so many things, because we feel "nekkid" and vulnerable and powerless and in human arrogance and pride we actually believe we can do something about that on our own --do unto others before they do unto you, the rule of the pre-emptive strike instead of the golden rule ...

More later.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Interesting week

Well ... rats. It has been over a week since I blogged last. But I have interesting things to write about. At least, I think it was interesting ... you may certainly beg to differ ;) ...

Labor Day, I actually took a full and complete day off! I don't think I even touched the computer. I read a non-theology related, non church related book [!] I grilled fajitas [vegetarian for DH] and made spanish rice for dinner. It was a wonderfully non-productive day ... ah!

Tuesday, I spent all day at the hospital with DH, whose mom had an angioplasty to open up an artery in her leg so her foot would receive better circulation. The before and after pictures were incredible! The artery in question went from about the size of a paneling nail to the size of a pencil!!!! Since we were there for 12 hours [she was delayed twice] I started reading Friedman's Generation to Generation [because several RevGalBlogPals had mentioned it.] Wish I had read it about 7 years ago ... I am looking forward to reading more of it this week.

Wednesday and Thursday, I did worship preparation/study and worked on the lesson for one church's Bible study group.

Friday, I went down to the Flint church and painted. All day. With a roller. Outside wall. Beautiful weather. Someone else volunteered to do the trim work on the wall, so I didn't have to! Big crew. Many projects accomplished on the building's ongoing facelift. It is looking good!

Saturday, thanks to the generosity of a congregant, DH and I went down to Ann Arbor to the Big House [the U of M football stadium, not a prison] to see a game. We and about 107,000 other people made history --for the first time ever, officials attempted to empty the stadium when inclement weather [lightning and hail] threatened, because there's no dome. 107,000 soggy people, standing shoulder to shoulder, trying to get somewhere other than where we were ... most of us finally gave up, and returned to our seats to sit in the rain. Thankfully, no lightning, no hail. Game resumes 40 minutes later ...

Sunday ... one service, one visitation, one board meeting, second service, one potluck ... one pooped pastor.

This week, back to a normal routine ... whatever that is!

[Sound of trumpet] Ch-h-h-a-a-a-a-r-r-r-rge!!!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Five: Life In The Fast Lane

My prayers for Will Smama, and yes, in lieu of flowers, I'll play Friday Five just 'cuz .... it'll be my first time!

1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss.

All of the above, depending on where I'm driving, where I'm going and so forth. I don't think driving has to be the downfall of the planet, especially with the new developments around bio-diesel and gasoline that's mostly alcohol. Remember, you can make alcohol out of almost anything organic [and people have! And then they actually drink it] so maybe in a decade or so, our vehicles will be running on "moonshine" or "bathtub gin" --or my late uncle's peach wine recipe.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket? I usually drive about 2-3 miles above the posted speed limit --I used to drive a little faster, but I got a ticket I couldn't take a safety course to get out of ... bummer.

3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience? Public transport is great when I can read or otherwise utilize the time ... I try to sit next to someone else who has books and earphones. I have had at least one frightening encounter with someone on a bus, so I am very careful about who I sit near.

4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced.

Houston, Texas

5. According to the Census Bureau, reverendmother's fair city has the 6th longest average commute in the United States at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate?

It's longer, but probably easier and more pleasant most of the time ... most of the places I drive, the most dangerous thing on the road is a deer!

Bonus for the brutally honest: It has been said, and the MythBusters have confirmed, that cell phones can impede driving ability almost as much as drinking. Do you talk on a cell phone while driving? Uh hunh. But never in bad weather or bad traffic. Usually only briefly. If it needs to be a long or involved conversation I pull over someplace.