Saturday, April 29, 2006

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five on Saturday

What do I do to avoid doing what I have to do?
I am a master at procrastination.

Favorite ways to Procrastinate Like A Pro:

1. Look at 500 sterling bracelets for sale on eBay.
2. Shuffle papers.
3. Admire my books and wander off with one.
4. Stare at the backyard.
5. Take a nap.

Let's just say that it's past 8 pm. on Saturday night and I've got a not-quite-jelled revision of my sermon for tomorrow morning, so I'm blogging.

St. Casserole
I forage on Saturday mornings at estate and garage sales. For the past few weeks, the sales were rotten so my Garage Sale Buddy and I quit early to go to Big Buffet Breakfasts at one of the re-opened Casinos.

Eleven years ago, our poor area welcomed dockside gambling. Dockside means that the casinos perched on barges on our Coastline with their hotels on land nearby.

Overnight, people got jobs, health care and benefits. Auxiliary businesses flourished. Things got better.

What didn't get better at the beginning and what isn't better now is the White Elephant We Don't Discuss.

MawMaw and PawPaw flooded into the casinos to spend the day playing slots, black jack and etc. Young people got good-paying jobs without needing an education. People who can't control gambling lost homes, families and themselves. People bragged about winnings, didn't mention losses. No one remembers as they gamble that the House always wins.

Presbyterians are clear about why gambling isn't good for people. You can look through the papers offered on the PCUSA website about gambling.

Many casino workers belong to churches. The casino jobs produce income that may end up in offering plates. Some congregations accommodate the 24/7 work schedules of casino workers by offering services on Saturdays or during the weeks. Other churches remain stuck with a 11 am. Sunday morning service only.

What we enlightened Reformed Christians do not discuss is that gambling is an activity that presupposes that the work of one's hands, ie. money earned, is of such little value that "playing" with it is entertainment. Gambling is marketed as a "family destination" or "gaming" as though the slot machines and roulette wheels are a great thing that our children can aspire to do as adults.


I suppose that life without gambling in some form is not possible today. We gamble with insurance, the financial markets and more. We take chances everyday and perhaps gambling is a controlled way of handling our anxiety about all the things we cannot control.


It's just durn tacky to make a social occasion out of going to a casino and gambling. From the garishly patterned carpets to the abysmal interior design of the buildings, the entire enterprise reeks of tacky. Can we not find another form of entertainment that builds community and contributes to our well-being?


St. Casserole

Friday, April 28, 2006

Why We Are In Trouble
by Whistle and Fish the Kittens

It just happened. I know I didn't do it.
We heard a noise and the lamp hit the bricks. It made a mess!
We are in deep trouble. Don't text message us or phone us. We lost our cell phone "until we learn to be better behaved kitties". We can't watch TV or listen to our ipods, either. We are in lock-down double secret probation. I bet Whistle did it! He looks like the type who breaks lamps! I know that Fish did it! He is wild!
We have to go.
I don't think SHE will let us use the computer for a long, long time.

Could you send us cat treats? We are in BIG trouble.

Sincerely yours,

Whistle and Fish

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Marshall Ramsey, Editorial cartoonist for the Clarion-Ledger, gets it right again.

Not laughing,

St. Casserole

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Happy Anniversary to us!
Happy Anniversary to us!
Happy Anniversary, dear Casseroles!
Happy Anniversary to us!

Twenty-five years ago, at a morning worship service, I walked down the aisle holding my father's arm and greeted my pre-LH. My senior pastor and a Presbytery staffer prayed and spoke to us. We said our vows and exchanged rings. My ring was dated 1881 and was from "Ella to Thomas", his ring belonged to his grandfather.

Thus we began our hopes and dreams on a Sunday morning in a church as packed as it could be. A Sunday school room served as the reception area. We left for a wedding lunch at a nearby club.

We honeymooned for two nights at a bed-and-breakfast in the Quarter then both of us returned to work.

I led a retreat for the congregation 5 days later and when someone called me, "Mrs. Casserole", I didn't answer. Didn't recognize the name as mine. Finally, the church member tapped me on the shoulder and we laughed.

Thank you, God, for all these years together. Thank you for the grace to live and love and be with my dearest heart mate. Through plenty and want, joy and sorrow, You sustained us to this day. With grateful hearts, we say "amen".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Lewis M. Henderson, of Carrboro, died Thursday, April 20. Born in 1988, Lewis was 18 or 88 in human years. A native of Durham County, he lived in Durham and Carrboro.
Lewis was a cat of superb phyicality. He maintained his youthful tuxedo looks all of his life. As the years went by, he developed a chronic disease. During the years of his treatment, he displayed a calm dignity and good humor which was a model for all who knew him.
As a young kitten Lewis enjoyed egg rolls as a treat while later, his favorite food was hand-fed surf and turf.
He shared his home with "his" Bea, who adored him. The two cats made their home playful and entertaining for their humans.
Ever adaptable, he welcomed kittens from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to his home after Hurricane Katrina. Because the kittens were eating kitten chow, Lewis ate kitten food with them. Greatly admired by his young cousins, he allowed the kittens to follow him around, nap near him and mimic his every move. A cat of lesser patience would not have accommodated the kittenish antics of the evacuees but Lewis, ever the gentleman, did.
Lewis was loved by three generations of humans. He was known to family and friends as a beautiful cat whose large eyes and great roaring purr were known to calm even the most distressed human.
He was a good companion to his owners. He head butted his primary human and rubbed against her legs. She provided for him well as he did for her. A comfort in trouble, a companion in joy, Lewis leaves many friends around the country, who, when they think of him will say "Good Cat".
At his death, Lewis gave one last great purr then slipped into mystery. His cremated remains will be kept at his home.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I'm Home

The Pastor's retreat to Florida was lovely. Seeing undamaged buildings, no debris piles and gorgeous landscaping helps placate my eyes. For three days, until yesterday afternoon when we returned home, I didn't see evidence of the Storm.

Coming home to abandoned water heaters leaned up against gutted homes, debris piles of limbs, stumps and demolished sheet rock felt dreadful. The retreat area looked like a disney fantasy area. Home to the storm area is ugly.

Several of my readers comment that I don't blog much these days. Lent/Easter kept me busy with other things but ministry isn't the entire reason I've been silent. Trying to spare you the incessant reflections on the storm kept me from writing here. The writer's maxim of "write what you know" must be true at this time in my life because I can't write about much else than storm stuff.

I'm fighting depression, weariness and trying to be cheerful for others when I feel like running away. This is as close to the truth as I can get.

Those of you who know me realize that I am not whining. I DO see the positives around me and am able to enjoy the improvements, restorations, blessings and bouts of happiness in this beat-up geographic area.

For whatever reasons, my life is here in the storm-tossed Gulf Coast. Must be something for me to learn here and I'll do my best to learn the lessons of life.

I'm not mad at God for this time in my life. Rather, I feel a tickly at the edges of intuition that I am both held in God's presence, as well as, living what most of us will never know. I am starving and filled at the same time.

Thank you for being with me,

St. Casserole

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More Random Than Usual

I wish we could take back our words, erase them, as quickly as this computer can backspace.

Have we developed all the swim strokes possible for the human body? I don't mean adding technology of equiptment or medical enhancements. Do we know all the swimming strokes human bodies can do now?

Why does chronological age bother us? When I was five, I felt old enough and competent for life. When I turned 20, I wondered if there was any interesting life left.

Just thinking. How's it going for you?

St. C

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I forgot to pray for rain in the pastoral prayer Sunday. It's dry as a dust pit here in the deep South and we need a soaker. The cattle are thirsty in the fields. Plants are distressed.

I prayed without notes except the scribbled requests for healing and care I wrote as the congregation spoke up.

After all my preparation for Easter Sunday, I did not have a pastoral prayer ready. Part of the problem was the worship bulletin did not list the prayers of the people. The secretary is an airy kind of gal.*

Do you write out your pastoral prayer?

Just wondering. And, we need rain.

St. C

*Secretary looks a great deal like me. Sounds like me, too.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's early Easter Monday. Go see for more funnies like this poor cat baby.

Friday, April 14, 2006

O, Good Friday!

Greetings to you who preached several times this week, planned worship, stayed for longer choir practices and have not missed a moment of Holy Week.

Blessings to you, in fact, for you are living through one of the most arduous weeks for clergy.

So much to do, so little time. Don't forget anything. Make real the resurrection for your people!

I get overwhelmed when weary. I forget and can't recall that I can't remember. It's difficult.

Even as a little kid, I used memory devices to keep stuff stuck in my brainage. These techniques are "mnemonics". I use these all the time.

'a' before 'e' except after 'c'

thirty days hath September...

Spring Forward, Fall back

I wish I had a book with all the verses and clues to help us remember stuff. So, for this end of Holy Week when we are all bleary eyed (and joyous), add your memory device so I can remember what you know, too.

Thinking of you,

St. Casserole

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Crisis presents great opportunity. I see this around me.

Yesterday, I went to see an incredible woman with a life story so difficult that one wonders how she copes. She copes very well.

M moved to the Coast to be with her fiance. He died after the wedding reception, dropping dead from a heart condition. Months later, Katrina blew six feet of water into her home, leaving her with homeless.

These facts tell just a smidgen of M's life story. If you hear about her, your first thought is, "how awful, how can she cope?". When you meet her, you know that she has risen beyond these facts, used them to surge forward into a new life with humor.

After the death of her husband, she called her nationwide network of friends to help her grieve. She went on a cruise with her family. She began to do youth work at her church. She reached out.

After her home was destroyed, she called to her network of friends again to come help her. They came and she had a group living in her open carport, travel trailer and tents to help her rebuild. Throughout the past eight months, she's hosted a variety of relatives and friends and they've helped her rebuild.

She is working with disaster relief at her church, working with youth and being a beacon of light to the weary and distressed.

I wish each of you could sit down with her for 15 minutes.

I don't feel sorry for her, I envy her. She knows how to ask for help without being "needy"; she is vulnerable and open in ways I can't imagine while allowing others the same vulnerablity and openness. Her genuine loving presence is healing, welcoming and unusual.

Great crisis presents great opportunity.
She'll tell you that she feels "God real strong" and you'll know what she means.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Clergywomen's Store

While I'm dreaming of things that aren't but could be, let's tour my imaginary store for clergywomen. All items available at the retail store and online.


very comfortable, breathable natural fabric clerical shirts in a variety of colors, plaids, polka-dots and vertical stripes;

clerical collars that are comfortable at all times,

vintage and new gorgeous collar buttons.

Pants (I don't like the word "slacks") and skirts cut fashionably, comfortably and slimming;

great shoes that look like beautiful shoes, nothing matronly, all comfortable:

a magical purse that carries everything but never weighs much and looks great;

Dignified, but fun and comfortable maternity wear.


Make-up area for those who wish to wear it

Jewelry area of gorgeous religious jewelry but nothing with big bling

Clergywoman car emergency car kit: hospital visiting gear, small communion set, boots for walking in fields or barns, new pair of pantyhose, personal care products..., extra $30 for hand-outs and breath mints.


Beautiful vestments made for a woman's body. All comfortable. Reasonably priced. Great fabrics and colors.

A vestment exchange so the vestments you tire of, out-grown clerical shirts (hey! it does happen!) and the like may be exchanged because what does a thrift store do with a clergywoman's blouse?


Clergywoman's Guide to Ministry (What Isn't Taught at Seminary but Should be)

How-To: Practical Ministry Skills

Explaining Your Call to Ministry

Great Stories of Women Who Survived Churches As Horrible As Yours!

Humor for Clergywomen (3 vol. set)

Being Yourself in Ministry

There is a children's area in the store, coffee and tea bar and lovely chairs to sit and visit. Sweet women walk around the store saying: "Oh dear, you are trying to be all things to all people. That's not your calling." and "When is your day off? What do you have planned that will feed your soul?" and "I think you are wonderful. I'm proud of you!"

What do I need to add before I take my business plan to the bank?

St. Casserole

Friday, April 07, 2006

While we look over window mullion styles and paint samples at my church, I dream of a church with these features:

*During worship, the street doors to the sanctuary stay open. Anyone walking or driving by the church will see worshippers in the sanctuary and think, "I could worship there and not be afraid". Our sanctuary exterior doors open into a tiny narthex and the old exterior doors creak. Dream church has doors open whenever the sanctuary is being used with no loss of heat, cool air or any flying bugs getting inside, entering the sanctuary is easy and quiet.

*Perfect acoustics for the preacher so that she can be heard by anyone in sanctuary regardless of hearing abilities. All congregational shuffling, snorting or chatting silenced by magical acoustics. Any preacherly snorts, coughs or sighs silenced, too.

*Silent raising and lowering of pulpit to accommodate height of preacher. Soft carpeting behind pulpit for preacher to remove her shoes if necessary. Bare feet or stockinged/socked feet never seen by congregation.

*Great lighting so that the congregation is in beautiful light. No spot light on the preacher. The sanctuary is not large enough to need a Preacher Spotlight.

*Beautiful hangings in the church reflecting the liturgical seasons. The antependium, table coverings and etc. we own now I purchased at the Goodwill. No kidding. Top that one, folks! I'd like to have the art used by a UCC congregation in Chapel Hill for baptism. The entrance door to the sanctuary was hung with varying lengths of ribbon and other textiles in blues and greens. People walking through the doorway felt as if they were entering a beautiful space of water's colors. The hanging didn't touch anyone's head but moved gently when walked through. Various textures of ribbons and cloth along with yarns gave this door piece an ethereal look. A similar piece in reds would be great for Pentecost and the tongues 'o fire.

More later,

St. Casserole

Thursday, April 06, 2006

If you, Ms.Layperson (or Mr. or Dr., etc.) redesigned the sanctuary of your church, what would you add?

Here's what I think:

1. Have DVD players in each pew on the hymn book rack.
2. Put foot warmers w/massage on the kneeler.
3. Have a cup holder for coffee, water bottle or soda can.
4. Have a micro-chip sound of applause when your quarter hits the offering plate.
5. Have signal buttons in front of each worshipper to let the preacher know to slow down, speed up or just quit.
6. Put Sharper Image type massagers in each seat. Hard to listen when your back is sore...
7. Have a beautiful person in Armani give the announcements.
8. Have the Sunday newspaper in each pew.
9. Give each worshipper a Big Gold Star as they leave so they can let other less righteous people know that They Went to Church.
10. If the kid sitting behind you kicks the pew where you are sitting, push a button and eject him out of the sanctuary.

What can be added to this list?

St. C
"Ready for Passion Sunday. Ready for Palm Sunday. Ready for Holy Week".

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dear Pals,
I'm busy with many things as we move to Holy Week and Easter. I'm finishing sermons, planning worship, designing bulletins and sneaking outside to putter in the garden. I'm using "garden" in the overseas manner so don't be thinking I'm planting collards and squash. The garden is a mess mostly, still rumpled from the Storm but life goes on. I see sermon illustrations everywhere I look from the flower seeds moved twenty feet over by wind and rain; azaleas blooming with broken branches and a charming yellow flower I've never seen before popping up near the brick sidewalk. Life goes on in nature and in us.
I thought Advent and Christmas were special this year because of the situation here. I was correct. Lent presents different blessings this year because the putting aside of distractions (chocolate, alcohol, not picking cuticles, etc.) are not artificial or habitual. Turning our faces from what doesn't matter toward the Big One Who Matters comes easily this year. This is a good thing.
Everything changes. I'm encouraged by this maxim. Change means a different pivot to adapt and I'm all for learning to adapt. C.S. Lewis wrote that the only things we can count on are death, taxes and unrequited love. He's correct that those things are inevitable and rather than thinking he is cynical in his comment, I think he is reassuring.
I think about the constancy of change with politics, usually. Like ol' DeLay and some of the local stinkers we call "Sir" here in the Pine Grove who will be moving on (God willing and heavy voter turnout) come election time.
So, as I said, I'm busy. I have much to do for which I am grateful. My energy has returned and the Spring mornings encourage my spirit.
Always glad to see you,
St. Casserole

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spring Forward; Fall Back

Fun With Time

Actual conversation at Session meeting:
Rev.St.Casserole: "Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. I hope people remember because I forgot to put it in the bulletin"
Session Member: "It starts Sunday???"
All Session Members: "I forgot!"

How long does it take for a new rug to be "baptized" by a pet? 16 hours after putting down the new runner, either Whistle or Fish lost breakfast in the center of the rug.

How long does it take a teen to get ready to go out the door? It varies.
for school? endlessly
for friends? instantly

How much time do you wait for your mother to take you somewhere? endlessly

How long does it take the clothes dryer to finish a pair of jeans?
If you are in a hurry: forever
If you don't care when the jeans dry: no time at all

When does "in 45 minutes" mean 45 minutes?
only by watching a clock otherwise 45 minutes translates into several hours or an entire day....


St. Casserole