Monday, February 27, 2006

Several Thoughts About Katrina

Wednesday will be the sixth month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

*Is the EPA trustworthy with reports of the air quality and soil contamination around here. I saw a truck pumping black stuff onto the sand beach back in early October. Will we have three headed birds, odd toed dogs and bad lungs in our community? Is the EPA as political as every other branch of this Republican administration? Don't answer that, I know the answer.

*Local kids are spraying graffitti which mimics the death codes used by the military after the storm. Seeing the spray painted symbol of "dead inside" on the side of an electrical box by the roadside is upsetting.

*Will City drainage be repaired before the new '06 Hurricane Season begins in June?

*What happens when large groups of citizens are clinically depressed?


St. Casserole
I returned to my congregation yesterday after four Sundays away. Oh, how wonderful to see my people!

They had a lovely meal after worship along with a "Welcome Back" cake (carrot with cream cheese icing) to celebrate my return.

Thanks be to God!

St. Casserole

Friday, February 24, 2006

This is Taylor Hicks from Birmingham. I mentioned him earlier in the week and, according to my stats, many newcomers strolled through the hallowed halls of St. Casserole Bloggage.

Does anyone do that for Songbird's tv boyfriend?

Just wondering.

St. C
Miss P. wants my help writing a prayer for the Presbyterian Women's Annual Gathering in March. She's doing the memorial for PW women who died in the past year. Miss P. couldn't find anything to use so she thought she'd ask her in-house pastor for help. I'm game although I didn't find much available either.

Here are my results. The first two prayers are adapted from the Book of Common Worship, 1946 and the final prayer is mine. We've got a few more days to work on this if you want to add suggestions, etc.

Prayer for Presbyterian Women Memorial Worship
Almighty and merciful God, We give thanks to you for all the women who have done justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with you . We remember your servants who ministered through the Presbyterian Women and have now gone to their loving reward with you.
We thank you for the high and holy ones who were shining lights in the world.
We thank you for the meek and lowly ones who held fast to their faith in times of trial.
We thank you for women who listened, hoped, worked and prayed with us through the years.
As they blessed our lives by their presence, we ask that you grant us the grace to follow in their steps and at last share with them in the inheritance of the Saints in light;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.


Eternal Lord God, who holds all souls in life;
Give to us the abiding comfort of your presence with us as we recall the lives and work of Presbyterian Women whose labors here have ended.
Receive our thanksgiving for those who loved and served you who are now at rest;
and grant us, that we, following their good example, may at the last enter with them into the fullness of Your unending joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Adapted from the Book of Common Worship 1946)

Gracious Loving God, who calls us to service through the Presbyterian Women; we give thanks today for our sisters in Faith who have died in the past year. We know you receive them with joy into their new relationship with you.
We thank you for the bold and the shy, the confident and the needy, for the laughter of shared experiences, for the tears shed in dismay.
We thank you for all that made our departed sisters dear to us.
We thank you for their encouragement and vision; for their hard work and faithfulness to the Church; for their willingness to serve you in this ministry.
We ask your blessings on us as we follow in their footsteps, carrying the fellowship and work forward of Presbyterian Women into the future. Grant that we may honor our departed sisters by your faithfulness to the tasks before us; our laughter and friendships enjoyed and our vision strengthened by knowing them.
With grateful hearts, we pray in the name of Jesus, who loves us. Amen. (st.c)

St. Casserole
This recovery stuff is on my nerves. I'm doing very well for which I am grateful.
However, I get tired too easily and this frustrates me. Going full-steam-ahead is my preferred mode.

And, I have weird dreams. My preacher group is convinced I'm working out the anesthesia remains but this theory is unproven.

This morning, I woke with a start thinking, "I'm not being a prophet! I spend too much of my time being a shepherd!"

Shocked, I got out of bed and wandered down the hall for coffee.

It's true. I shepherd the Sheep rather than prophesy to the People. Dang.

All this prophet stuff is swirling around in my head because of Sunday's lectionary texts: 2 Kings 2:1-12 and Mark 9:2-9. Elijah, Elisha, Moses and Jesus.

I'm returning to the pulpit without telling my doctor. He's busy and I'm not telling him.

A preacher can't stay away from her pulpit without consequences and the absence of preaching is impacting my healing (or so I thought I'd say to the Doctor if he suggests I'm returning a tad early).

I'm working on these texts with delight although I do feel that I JUST PREACHED ON THE TRANSFIGURATION YESTERDAY and now we are doing it again.

My mental clarity lags at times but I do feel that waking up with guilt over the lack of prophetic witness is a good God thing. The thought I had later, where I mused that maybe the Transfiguration is similar to "Extreme Makeover", shows I best stick to the text and not wander away.

If you need me Sunday at 11 am. CST, I'll be in the Pulpit,

St. Casserole

RGBP Friday Friendship Five

Songbird's Friday Meme for us is to list the five friends who are there for us no matter what.

Even though she is family, my LLS is a faithful friend. Gentle, kind, helpful, respectful and dead-on funny, she's the best.

The Preacher's group as a whole provide comfort and laughter, too.

It's difficult to single out particular women friends because I like all of my gal pals (or they wouldn't be "friends"). Each makes my life brighter in her own way.

In the new friend category, I can't express how comforting it is to know my Maine friend. Such a beautiful thing to meet, talk and be friends with such a sweet spirit.

Finally, my LH is more to me than a best friend. However, if friendship is listening, nurturing along with all the other good stuff of being a friend, then he's a remarkable pal.

I am rich in friends. What grace this is!

St. Casserole

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dear Songbird,

Taylor Hicks is my American Idol boyfriend.

St. Casserole

Whistle the Kitten here. This is the first ever St. Casserole Cat Meme but she didn't write it, I wrote this.

If you read this and you are a cat or have a cat, consider yourself tagged!

1. What's your favorite food?
Whatever is in my dish.
2. What is your favorite toy?
My best toy is the stuffed hamster. Fish loves Q-tips.
3. What is your best trick?
I don't do tricks. My humans do tricks.
3. What is your favorite human trick?
When they get all kissy and lovey just because we are so cute. Yuk!
4. What human rule do you break often?
They want us to stay off the kitchen counter. Is that stupid or what?
5. What do you wish your human knew about you?
I would like a place at the dinner table with my own napkin and plate.
6. What are you glad your human does NOT know about you?
I am studying Catechetics online late at night for my Masters.

You are tagged!

Love from Whistle the Kitten

We Are Almost Six Months Old!

Fish the Kitten here.

The picture on the bottom right is Whistle, I'm the good looking kitten on the top right. We look sour because we are cats and our affect is soooo sophisicated that you ordinary bi-peds can't tell by looking at us that we are THRILLED.

Our Mom's RGBP, Quotidian Grace, wrote about this website Birthday Celebration. We were charmed by the idea that we can ask for gifts for our birthday! And, we don't know what Prada or any of that other stuff is. And, we don't wear red evening dresses because, a)we are kittens, ginger kittens and red clashes, and, b) we are boys for gosh sakes!

Here is what we like for gifts: cotton q-tips, furry mice, tiny soft toys and paper bags.

If you want, you can just push a button on the computer and the U.S. Post Office brings packages to our house. Our Mom sits and pushes buttons and gets packages so we know this works.

Easy, huh?

Fish (almost 6 month's old) and my brother, Whistle who was born the same day

Biloxi Compared to "Deadwood" Yikes!

Casinos Rise Out of Katrina's Wreckage - New York Times

The New York Times keeps an eye on Mississippi's disaster relief almost every day. This article uses "Biloxi" and "Deadwood" in the same sentence. For those of you without HBO or DVD, "Deadwood" is the sharply profane and riveting series about a lawless old West town. I live next door to Biloxi.

St. Casserole

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Little S. Comes to Mississippi!!!

I've got the sweetest news! A childhood friend is coming to see me! Little S. will come with a load of college students and church members to help in Bay St. Louis in a few weeks. I can't tell you how rare it is for me to see a friend from childhood! Little S. and I grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same elementary school, junior high and high school. We parted ways in college but both ended up enrolled in Seminary. She went to Duke, I went to Union. I've seen her only a very few times since High School and our main contact is Christmas cards through the years.

Little S. and I plan an all-nighter gab fest while she is here. I am going to corral my strength so I can do this.

I don't know why I haven't done better keeping up with childhood, etc. friends through the years. I sure remember the friends of the different ages of my life but I think I'm one of those who faces the future and runs into it. The drawback is moving to a new place and making new friends without keeping up with the friends of the previous time. After many years in one place, I regret not doing a better job of maintaining old friends.

My LLS does the best job of keeping up friends. She has the gift of friendship.

I'm feeling better!

St. Casserole

Friday, February 17, 2006

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person: having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out. Just as they are—chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away." George Eliot, 1819-1880

My LH says I am spinning plates here at the blog.

I’m not writing about my life but throwing out chaff to you, my bloggy buddies.

He’s correct.

I had surgery on January 26. I’m doing well and expect to recover fully. I’m healthy and feel pretty durn good.

I’m too shy to write about surgery so I didn’t. I just disappeared then re-appeared with empty stuff to throw up on the screen. I haven’t had surgery in years so I wasn’t sure what to expect What I couldn’t anticipate scared me. I didn’t want to hear of anyone else’s bad experience with removing a fibroid tumor.

I behaved like one of your parishoners who doesn’t tell you about their ordeals until aferward.

I’m sorry.

You have been with me through the Storm and other storms. You prove yourselves to be good company on the journey.

Pouring out words,

St. Cassserole

From the local newspaper

The Sun Herald 02/17/2006 KATRINA'S DEAD
I've noticed that you, my dear bloggy pals, do not read postings like this one where I refer to our local newspaper. You may want to read this series about Katrina's casualties. The reporter, Joshua Norman, writes gently about our losses.

St. C

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ok, may February IS a good idea.

Sunny and in the 70's here today.

My azaleas are beginning to bloom.

St. Casserole

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You Should Get a MD (Doctor of Medicine)
You're both compassionate and brilliant - a rare combination.
You were born to be a doctor.
What Advanced Degree Should You Get?

Gosh, the only things holding me back from Med School are my squeamishness around blood and guts, lack of ability with math and science and gee....not wanting to wear a white jacket after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. The. Only. Things.

St. C

Monday, February 13, 2006

More Katrina Humor

People are provoked. This is an example. My neighbor sent this photo to me but didn't say where he found it. This pile of debris could be anywhere in Mississippi or Louisiana.

St. C

Friday, February 10, 2006

Maybe February just isn't a good idea.
"Blogging is for those who believe their every thought is of interest to others"
---Mrs. Harpoon D. Crabbledabble, III

Let's don't invite Mrs. Crabbledabble to our party, ok?

St. Casserole

Your Inner Child Is Surprised
You see many things through the eyes of a child.Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded.You cherish all of the details in life.Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.
How Is Your Inner Child?

Friday RevGal Five Saying Goodbye

1. How do you say goodbye to someone you will see again soon?
If it's a gal pal or family member, I'll say, "love ya". If it's anyone else, as simple "goodbye" will do.
2. What is your favorite foreign word for "goodbye?" North Carolina venacular is "we gonna run" which translates into "Goodbye". I don't say this often as it is confusing to Mississppians and makes me sound as if I live with goobers.
3. Have you ever planned a special farewell for someone, or had one planned for you? When I leave a church and they give me a reception, I feel awkward. I know saying "goodbye" is important but by the time I leave, I've said all the personal goodbyes I need to say and having people fawn over me gets on my nerves. Wait a minute? Turn down a fawn? Oh yeah, feels too odd.
4. What is the hardest goodbye you have had to say? Saying good bye to my childhood home was very difficult. My mother's death ended that relationship as the home was cleared out and ready to be sold. Saying goodbye was a symbol of the end of my childhood (gosh! I was in my forties) and acknowledging that I had no "home" to return to. Of course, I had my home with my family but you know what I mean.
5. What is the most romantic goodbye you have seen in a movie? I can't recall. Maybe with another cup of coffee I'll remember which one touched me.

This is Songbird's meme. She's saying goodbye to Pure Luck who'll be working away for two months. I hope the time passes quickly for her. I don't do well without my sweet LH nearby.

St. Casserole

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dear Readers,

Don't you hate when rock stars sing about how difficult their lives are? Don't you hate when politicians complain about the demands of the public? Well, get ready for another M.C.* kind of moment: what about bloggers who don't have anything to say and whine about their lack of inspiration?

eh....well....uh....I'm in the last category. Not that I'm complaining. It's just that I enjoy blogging and my bloggy buddies (that's you) but I'm witless, wordless and goofy this week and have nothing to say.

I hope you'll stay with me until I recover. I'd stay with you... Pretend I am Quotidian Grace at a conference, or PPB at camp or Songbird walking her dogs instead of just me being empty-headed.

Blank Brained,

St. Casserole

*Inside joke. Will explain when I decide how to do it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

LLS, This One is For You...

Don't even ask me to explain this one. Not gonna.
Over Christmas, a Baptist Church in California heard that my young friend, Miss B, lost her movies and t.v. in the hurricane. They sent a new t.v. and bunches of movies to her.

Ruby got a new pair of diabetic shoes from a donor in Georgia.

An older friend and her husband received home repairs, a new handicap-accessible bathroom and new furniture from a church in Mississippi.

A preacher buddy received help repairing her home and an offer for new furniture from another church in Mississippi.

Our new animal shelter is moving to completion with donations from all over the U.S.

Eddie Hartwell's church is feeding people to this day. He sent a plate to me Saturday night which I ate happily. His church remains a center of re-building in Gulfport. God bless him and all his donors!

Americans are supposed to be the most generous of the world's people. Per capita, Mississippians are the most generous of Americans but, believe me, we couldn't survive all the tragedies without your help.


St. Casserole

Monday, February 06, 2006

Whistle the Kitten

You may think our lives are all sweetness and light here at Casa Casserole. As true as that is most of the time, I'm worried today about Whistle the Kitten. Wish I had a photo of Fish with his arm around Whistle's shoulders last night as they snuggled on my prayer shawl.

Whistle got into something. My worry is that the large Hershey's bar, (you know that big kind kids bring you when they're in trouble and want you to over look their behavior? Yeah, that kind.) , the LH found Whistle happily dragging across the bedroom floor may have had a bite or two out of it. I didn't see this so I didn't check Whistle for chocolate breath or tell-tale crumbs.

Whistle looks ill. He's eating, drinking, littering. All good. He looks kind low so I'm keeping an eye on him.

Why a kitten would eat chocolate is a mystery in my universe.

Keeping an eye on Whistle the Kitten today.
Call me if you need me.

St. Casserole

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pastoral Prayer for Sunday

On Sunday, August 28, 2005, I didn't go to Little Church. The night before I got a call from an elder suggesting that the weather didn't look good and that I would have a difficult time going home after worship. I agreed to stay home knowing that I'd be busy packing up, corralling animals to carriers and watching our home and office get boarded up.

What I didn't know, although I was glued to the Weather Channel and local updates, was that the waters were rising Sunday morning. National Guard Chaplain says the water behind his home, hundreds of feet away from his house, rose up and came into his yard that morning.

What I didn't know was that my neighborhood, county and state would be damaged beyond imagination in 24 hours.

What I didn't know was that I wouldn't see my LH and LS for almost a month after the storm. I knew where they were but without good phone service, every time the cell rang, I careened into it hoping for the best. Dire reports of death, disease and disaster poured out of the phone.

What I didn't know was our country cannot protect citizens in a disaster. And, won't, because cronies ran the system and didn't give a rats patootie about us.

In your pastoral prayer tomorrow, the prayer where you intercede on behalf of your people for help, courage and mercy, please remember us.

Remember your human relatives in Mississippi and Louisiana. Many are displaced, homeless, broke, tired and miserable. Look around your own world and think to yourself, how soon would my world look "normal" if the infrastructure became useless? If the majority of homes and businesses were damaged beyond repair? If your home, your car, your Mamma's home and car, and your job were gone, how long would it take you to feel "normal"?

Please pray for us. Please keep our suffering before you so that your compassion flows.

Many of our old people moved away to be with their children. We miss them. Many of our old people died after the storm, just couldn't take it anymore. Too tired, too old, too stressed.

The "Katrina Zone" is hard on everyone. Tempers flare, attitudes soar; we are worn out.

Pray for us.

St. Casserole

Friday, February 03, 2006

After several months of receiving The Presbyterian Outlook clumped in two issues or not at all, I received the Feb. 6 issue on time today.

The theme is the ordination of women. The first deacon was ordained in 1906 in the UPCNA; then the PCUSA ordained a ruling elder in 1930; then we trailed into the flow in 1956 (PCUS). One hundred years of recognizing the call of women to ordained ministry in the Church. As many of the ladies said, back in '06, "it's about time!"

Editor Jack Haberer writes about the possible schism of the PC U.S.A. and how this would effect this might have on women "whose role in leadership is new, less secure and easily withdrawn..." Yikes!

Did I forget to worry about this?

I guess I did. I've been worrying how I might explain to God that I participated in a schism when we've been told to hold onto the Body of Christ.

Haberer ends the editorial with these words: "More than anything, we will urge the church to stay together. Voices long silenced, having found a place to call home, should not have to wonder where to go." (p.8 TPO, Feb 6,2006)

Yes, indeed.

My feet are under the Table,
St. Casserole

I'm on page 452 of Phil Rickman's THE CURE OF SOULS. Rickman's mystery series featuring The Rev. Mrs. Merrily Watkins entertain the dickens out of me.
I began with the first book, MIDWINTER OF THE SPIRIT, then to A CROWN OF LIGHTS and now CURE.

Rickman says he isn't a horror writer but I do get a bit squeamy with his stories. I may be a baby about scary stuff so don't let this stop you from reading about a fully realized character of an Anglican clergywoman who serves as the Deliverance Counselor for the Hereford Diocese. Merrily Watkins is someone who we'd enjoy having in the RGBP(copywrite) Group.

Mr. Rickman, thanks for entertaining me through these books. You do a good job.

St. Casserole

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The spirit of Churches

I've been thinking about a colleague who serves a disturbed church. That's right, disturbed. She's been pastor there for several years, much longer than most of the preachers before her. When she prepared the congregations's history for a recent anniversary, she realized that's she'd outlasted most of her predecessors. Her tenure will be less than ten years.

She's planning to leave as soon as her conference allows.

The congregation is demanding, difficult-t0-impossible to satisfy, passive aggressive, verbally abusive and secretive. Not everyone, of course. She's attracted numerous new members who stay until the rot begins to show, then leave. Her ministry wears her down. I've seen her when she had no eye sparkle left.

I think congregations have "spirits". Some congregations are loving, welcoming and gracious. Others are hard-hearted, stingy and perilous to serve. Some are rigid with their lives and others, careless.

I'm fortunate to serve a gracious congregation. I've served a stinker or two in my years as a pastor.

A great deal more can be said about this topic. Can you add to these remarks?

Slowly but Surely,
St. Casserole

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

This is my 400th post.

I'm going to the Festival of Homiletics in May. You going too?