Friends, Friendship, Ministry, Prayers for Pastors, RevGalBlogPals

For friends who know it’s holy (a prayer for pastors)

Dear God,

A pastor’s work is lonely,
not sometimes
but often,
full of stories
we cannot tell
and deeply heavy burdens
placed with trust upon us
composed of true stories
and imagined wrongs
and incalculable bad fortune
and actual evildoing.

The telling honors us.
The hearing weighs us down.

I thank you, God,
for friends who know it’s holy
to carry things together,
for friends who know the difference
between weakness and exhaustion,
between complaining
and pleading
with You.

They make us
better pastors,
better people,
these friends who walk beside us,
who answer questions,
and offer challenges,
yet know the time
to just show love.

When we are tempted
to manage it all alone,
remind us that Jesus
sent his friends out in pairs,
each friend with another,
not alone to face the world.

Friends make each other better.

Help us to find those friends.
Help us to be those friends.
We ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

*************

A prayer offered with thanks to God for all the friends who have come into my life through the community of RevGalBlogPals over the past ten years, on the occasion of the organization’s tenth anniversary.

Ecumenism, Friends, LGBT, RevGalBlogPals

Some of my best friends are Presbyterians

It’s true.

Some of my best friends are Presbyterians.

They’ve influenced me before, beginning with the teachers of the kindergarten at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, Virginia. Impressed that the school would take me in the middle of the year after we moved from our home town of Portsmouth, my Methodist father and my Baptist mother decided to meet somewhere not exactly in the middle and take us there to Sunday School.

For six years of Sundays, the Presbyterians got me thinking about the Word of God.

No one ever made me sit on the other side of the room or left me out of an activity because my religious pedigree didn’t match. I suffered through learning the books of the Bible in order just like the other 3rd graders. (Well, I tried, anyway. Maybe if they had set it to music.)

I give all the credit for my knowledge of Bible stories to my absolute heroine of all Sunday School teachers everywhere and for all time, Marian Sengel, who was the second person in my universe to inspire me to want to be a pastor’s wife. (Yes, I know. I got a different idea later. My point is, I adored her.) Mrs. Sengel taught the 5th and 6th grade, which would be enough to get innumerable stars for her crown, and she did it with drama and puppetry. And yes, we all know about learning styles and rotation models now, but this was 1971-1973. She was in the vanguard with her marionettes. (You should have seen Salome. I kid you not.) And I will never forget playing Gomer on the auction block. (Also, I kid you not.) She wasn’t afraid of any of those stories and didn’t try to sweeten things up for us.

Her husband was pretty much of a hero, too. Here’s his brief biography from the Old Presbyterian Meeting House website:

1960 The Reverend Dr. William Randolph Sengel is called as the congregation’s ninth pastor. He leads efforts to advance social and racial justice within the church and the local community; to re-unite the northern and southern denominations of the Presbyterian Church; and to promote ecumenism. He serves our congregation until 1986 when he becomes pastor emeritus.

Now I live in a place where well-educated Presbyterians are few and far between. Some of them stumble into UCC churches, hoping to find a vaguely familiar worship service, but they will never find good order, at least in this hotbed of Congregationalism, because that is not our way. But on the Internet, in the world of bloggers, my life is thick with them. They are all over the country, and they have become my dearest friends in person, and I have been following the story of their church in recent months with more than a professional interest.

At their last General Assembly, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted for Amendment 10-A, which would change the language for their ordination standards in the Book of Order. It’s not the first attempt at making ordination a possibility for candidates who are openly LGBT, but my Presbyterian friends, some of them lifelong Presbyterians, believe this may be the time it happens. For the words to be changed, each Presbytery has to vote on the Amendment, and a certain number must vote yes, and websites have been tracking the votes, which are happening at different times throughout the year, and comparing this year’s votes to the last attempt.

Some of my best friends are Presbyterians.

And tonight, one of my best Presbyterians is standing up to speak about the Amendment in question. Like a good Presbyterian, she has done her homework, which includes both study and prayer. I’m praying for her, and for her Presbytery, and for all the Presbyterians who feel called by God to serve and have not been able to do so, and for all the people who disagree with the Amendment, too. May the Spirit of God guide them in their life together, and may a reunited church remain united.

Don't Let's Call It a Diet, Friends

Gifts

OxojiggerIt’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, a tiny little measuring cup in Tablespoons and ounces and milliliters.

At Weight Watchers this morning, the leader, who was long ago my next-door neighbor stay-at-home-mom pal, and who I hope is a rediscovered friend, showed us all this darling little slanted measuring device, cleverly marked in red for this dangerous Valentine season.

She mentioned that it had x’s and o’s (the company that makes it is Oxo) and asked what those might stand for? (Yes, Weight Watchers is sometimes like the Children’s Message at church, but whatever works. And what she does works.) Hugs and kisses, we answered, and she heard my voice and made eye contact and asked which was which, and I answered, and she put the little cup in my hand and moved on in her talk.

I brought it to her at the end of the meeting, thanking her again for her support when I was having a hard time earlier in the week. She told me to borrow it this week, and we made plans to meet for coffee to renew our friendship. The loan of the cup is a wee gift, and I enjoyed seeing what 2 tablespoons looked like (enough for a cup of coffee, as it turned out), but her return to my life feels like divine intervention, and I am surely grateful.