Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear Readers,

Here I am with spaghetti sticks in my hair writing a letter to you.

It's typical for me to wake up and have someone "on my mind". I pray early after getting out of bed and grabbing a cup of coffee. When I realize I've got whoever-it-is on my mind, I begin to pray for them. I may know them well or only in passing or not at all (national figures, etc.) I commend them to God's good care and move on. Sometimes, the person stays with me throughout the day.

Here's my question, O Wise Readers: do I contact the person to let them know they are "on my mind"? If it's a local or email person, I could contact them to let them know I'm praying for them.

I attempt to be gentle about prayer. I give the people I visit in the hospital the deciding vote on whether or not I pray for them by their bed. Maybe they are wild for me to get out of the room. Perhaps they want to hold on to their dignity and not cry about their situation and believe a prayer would unleash the tears. I don't know so I ask in a way that allows them to save face and tell me "no".

If I am out in the community and think a person may want prayer for their distress (illness, grief, worry about someone they love) I'll offer to pray with a gentle, "whatever you like.." so they can turn me down.

But what about the names or faces of people who jump into my mind? I pray for them but should I contact them? Geez, I hate being intrusive so this is a real issue. I can be quite the bulldog in other areas of my life so I want to be careful not to upset someone's nerves.

If someone called me up to tell me they were praying for me, I think I'd be delighted. Delighted unless they were praying that I would "get a clue" "come co-sign a bank loan for them" or that I'd come to my senses and give up the ministry because only men can be preachers. Those kind of prayers don't seem like prayers to me and appear to be manipulative.

How do you handle when the Spirit brings a name to your mind for prayer?

St. Casserole

Monday, October 30, 2006

Go here. Right now. Read all.


St. C

One Year, Two Months and One day

That's how long since the Storm.

  • Our request for money to finish church repairs goes to the Commission this week.
  • I need a plumber, electrician and a carpenter to finish repairs at home.
  • The big apartment complex in the neighborhood remains empty and dark. Will it be repaired? Torn down? Where did all the residents go?
  • Several homes in the neighborhood are gone. Just gone. Rebuilding will be from the ground up.
  • Homeowner insurance skyrocketed. And, each policy contains a caveat explaining (we think) if your windows are blown out or your roof comes off we will replace these items but not the water damage inside. Go figure.
  • Daylight Saving Time ruins my late afternoons but at least construction workers can see in the mornings to start work.
  • The Red Cross is offering grants to pay for therapy for storm victims in the affected areas. This is great!
  • Rev. Hunting Dog's congregation cleaned out their gutted sanctuary a few weeks ago. Volunteers did the big work but the congregation wanted to use the ruined space for outdoor worship. After hanging the cross in the chancel, they came back the next day to find the cross and sanctuary vandalized. The copper plumbing tubing has been stripped out three times since repairs began. Vandals.
  • Volunteers from around the country are here again. I adore seeing church vans from all over the U.S. driving around.
  • Why did will smama have to go home? I liked having her here.
  • Still plenty of places where storm debris is piled up next to the road.

St. Casserole

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Actual Conversation...

This morning as I pulled up to the curb at the church and got out of my car, a visitor walked up. I welcomed her to the church and introduced myself.

"You're the pastor's wife?"

"No, M'am, I'm the pastor."

"You are the pastor?"

"Yes, M'am. I'm the pastor."


Later, just minutes before the service. I walk down the aisle to the chancel. Visitor sees me in my vestments. She says, "Cute!"

Just thought you should know the effect I have on visitors....

St. Casserole

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Really Quick Version

Tomorrow's Gospel text is Mark 10:46-52, the story of Bartimaeus and Jesus.

This comforting story suggests that loud crying for help along with being willing to trust God's help, heals.

Physically and economically challenged, Bartimaeus didn't have much going for him except a loud voice, a clear idea of what he wanted ("My teacher, let me see again.") and the trust to get up and go to Jesus for help. Jesus heals him. Able to see, Bartimaeus follows Jesus.

O God, help me ask for help. Help me be loud and clear. Help me trust you to help me. Help me be willing to leave behind what hinders me. Help me follow you. Amen.

St. Casserole

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Here I am with will smama. We wanted you to see us together.

We laughed. We talked. She told jokes. I got most of her jokes.

I joked. She "charity" laughed.

Thank you, God, for friends who understand, listen and laugh.

St. Casserole

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blogger Meet-Up Today!

I'm meeting will smama, one of my favorite RevGals, in a few hours!

Yippee! She's here in the Zone working with a mission group and I begged for time with her.

"Tell them you've got to do pastoral care with a local," I said.


St. C.

Wednesday Cat Blogging

Whistle, on the white chair, takes a good nap while his brother, Fish, dreams of "getting outside", "my own food bowl" and being the coverboy for "Cat Fancy" magazine.

St. Casserole

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sir Paul McCartney and Lady Heather Mills McCartney are in divorce proceedings.

Why didn't she know that the marriage was doomed from the beginning?

She married a much older man with oodles of money, whose first marriage lasted thirty years and whose grief over his first wife was unhealed.

If only the girlfriend read tabloids at the beauty parlor.

Tabloids contain tons of info about how NOT to make life decisions.

Big money combined with money hunger causes problems.

Long-term marriage with a devoted partner followed by marrying Miss Young and Pretty won't work.

I doubt Sir Paul listened to his adult children who could have told him that he was going to be in a Heartbreak Train Wreck of Tabloid proportions.

I guess they don't watch daytime tv, either. Or read any self-help books. Or pay attention to Gail Sheely's landmark book, Passages. See the chapter on the "save your life wife".

People don't understand that being the one exception to the rule doesn't happen.

I'm sorry for both of them. Sorry their private life is tabloid fodder. Sorry I am read this junk rather than something good for my brain.

But, reading the stupid mags at the beauty parlor keeps one educated culturally and I'm all for that.

St. Casserole

Mom Jeans Recovered

Mom jeans returned unharmed!

I'm sitting here wearing my favorite Mom jeans and looking, well, rather
goofy, I mean, unfashionable.

I'm comfortable.

I followed the Evil Dr. X's instructions by putting a chocolate bar and one dollar in a pillowcase on the mailbox. Jeans were returned.

Just wanted you to know.

St. Casserole

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Too tired for words.

Presbytery all day long.

Endless discussions.

Lots of talk.
Big issues deferred until next year's meeting.

No Diet Cokes allowed in the sanctuary where we met.

I spoke my mind.

I held my temper.

I had my say.

St. Casserole

Monday, October 16, 2006

No new word about the Mom Jeans crisis.

I forgot to put a dollar in a pillowcase outside of the kitchen door.

Got so anxious I ate the chocolate the jean-nappers demanded.

Can't wear shorts because the weather changed.

Waiting for further directives from Doctor X.

Missing My Stretch Waist Jeans,

St. C

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My week is filled with travel, our presbytery meeting and finishing up a grant to request money to complete repairs to the church.

At presbytery, we will consider an overture to censure our denominational publishing house.
The house published a book about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

I haven't read the book.

I use the publisher for books on prayer, worship and some church school literature.
I haven't even kept up with their catalog.

I plan to speak against the overture.

While I may not agree with the books on the publisher's list, I give them the privilege to publish what they believe will be of help to us in the pew and pulpit.

If I don't like a book I don't buy it.

The overture lacks charity. It seeks to censure, humiliate and insult.

I am appalled at the heavy-handed thrust of the overture.

If you don't like the book. Don't buy it. Low sales speak just as well as wordy overtures.

St. Casserole

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I feel as if I know John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of Newark. My grandmother taught him in Sunday School when he was a little boy.

He's speaking at Millsaps College today. http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061014/FEAT04/610140309/1022

I'm positive his views will upset many. I doubt people understand that Spong is trying to get a conversation going about what being Christian in the 21st Century means. At 75, I'd say he's amazing for wanting dialogue about the future.

Whether you agree with his questions or not, he's a gift to us. People seem to give up asking questions when they move into old age. Maybe they become tired searching for answers or lose their imagination. I hope it doesn't happen to me.

Here's to Spong who asks questions!

Happy Saturday to you all. I'm off to rummage sales,

St. Casserole

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Cat Report

The door blew open. One cat got out. The other cat meowed the alarm.

Fish roamed around the yard. Whistle howled with jealousy.

Fish meowed to come inside. Whistle popped him on the head in rebuke.

St. C

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Day 2: Mom Jeans Held Hostage

No word from jean-nappers.

St. Casserole, wondering why waist high jeans upset the young people....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dateline: Backwater, Former Pine Grove.

Missing from closet of St. C. are two pairs of thrift store Mom Jeans with elastic waists. Worn often, too often according to reports.

The jeans were last seen in the dirty clothes basket several days ago. St. C. asked around about the jeans only to receive a mysterious text message suggesting that for $1, some info might be given
No one claims responsibility for removing the jeans to a hiding place.

St. C. mopes around wearing shorts which, according to sources, look even worse than the Mom Jeans.

More details as events unfold...


St. Casserole

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Church Conflict

Our presbytery is caught up in the glamour and newness of departing our bounds.

This is made possible by the recent G.A.’s vote on the Peace, Unity and Purity Task Force report. Within our bounds, we’ve meowed and rustled papers about the National Church for years. When the PCA formed in 1973, many of our churches jumped ship. As late as 1981, when I was received as a pastor, a vote to depart the denomination occurred within three months of my reception. I was not the cause, although perhaps my faulty gender as a woman added to the upset. The decison was made before I appeared, happy and eager to serve.

What people on either side of the debate over the future of the denomination over look bothers me terribly. People get hurt when churches conflict. People get hurt when pastors spend time in the pulpit, in classrooms and over hospital beds discussing leaving the denomination. People get hurt when the focus of their church turns away from worship and mission. Before you suggest that one side or the other has turned away from worship/mission and that this is the very reason for conflict, recall that if you are part of the conflict, you are hurting someone.

Every congregation has fragile members. Some are coping with new diagnosis of catastrophic disease and want more than anything for a "normal" worship experience. Others are drowning in conflict in their homes or businesses or neighborhoods. Where can they go to find a place of peace and reassurance that faithful adults are working for understanding? Can’t find this in a conflicted church.

Our country is at war. Our church is at war. People die from more than enemy fire in war. People become wounded from church troubles.

That’s a fact, Jack.

Today, I laid down my hope for our committee who builds presbytery groups. The moderator told me weeks ago that it made sense to get people from the big churches because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t get donations for the work of presbytery. Didn’t I understand this, he wondered?
I responded that our purpose is to include all congregations, large or small, wealthy or struggling to the work of presbytery. Part of our mission is to represent all of our churches in our processes.

I was told that I need to be realistic.

Today, when the committee met, I didn’t go. I've been faithful for years and years, seldom missing a meeting.

I’m no better than any coward hiding in a bunker afraid of being wounded or who stops attending worship because the conflict hurts emotionally. I laid down my hope in a faithful presbytery this morning and I’ve been depressed all day long.

In the coming days, I’ll lose more because I see both sides of the issue. I listen and hear the fear behind the anger, the worry over losing power, the relief from boredom which building a new denomination will bring.

I feel sick.

Oddities in the Sept.2006 ATLANTIC

Hanna Rosin, a smart writer, in an article about Rudy Giuliani learning to speak "evangelese" on p.39 top left column, end of paragraph writes, " Or they might just tap into a candidate’s general sense of optimism and contentment— a belief, rooted in Genesis and coloring all of life, that things happen for a reason. ‘Creationism Lite’, you might call it—an affirmational creed that carries it’s own emotional and intellectual style of thinking and speaking."

We get our sense of "things happening for a reason" from, primarily, Creationism?


Following page 40, an advert for Capella University, shows a woman setting a table for a meal. She puts the dinner knife on a napkin on the WRONG SIDE OF THE PLATE! She may be learning a great deal from her online Ph.d program at C.U. but she hasn’t mastered table setting.

St. C.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Suz, the GREATEST GARAGE SALE SHOPPER IN THE WORLD and I ventured out Saturday morning to see what was shaking with garage sales.

She can find anything. I mean it. A genuine David Yurman bracelet in a pitiful house with
nothing but Tupperware lids for sale? She found it.

On our route is the Mean Ladies Church. These gals put on a sale twice a year or more.
We go with reluctance. MLC breaks all the rules for a successful church rummage sale.

First, they are crabby and disorganized. They put out the same stuff every sale. Instead of getting money while the sale is on, they keep the same prices. After the sale, they box up leftovers for the next sale. Don’t do this. Get your money while you can. Sell if off. Leftovers don’t make your money. They operate from a spirit of scarcity.

They’d do better if they sold everything for .50 a bag the last hour of the sale. Then, they could ask for congregational donations to replenish their merchandise. If your church has regular sales, people know to donate whenever they clean closets, etc. The MLC put raggedy moldy stuff back into roach infested boxes to store at the church for the next sale. Yuk. The church is in temporary quarters after the hurricane so it makes no sense to keep junk. Sell it! Create good will as a generous church sale.

It’s like selling old bras and drawers. What’s the point? If you see anyone looking at a table of old underwear, give it to them. If people are buying used underwear, they need underwear. Give it to them. The Kingdom still has a chance to come in whether you make .25 on a worn out bra or not.

Basic Concept (write this down): Every time a person enters your church, you are given an opportunity to welcome them to your community of faith. Having a rummage sale? Be SURE to have information about your faith community available. Times of service, children’s programs, mission opportunities, how to contact your pastor—put all this in visiting hands.

We Presbyies have mixed feelings about rummage sales. One groups says that regular tithes and gifts pay for all programs. Particular programs are financed by the entire congregation through holy stewardship. Another group says, "let the kids raise money for their programs with rummage sales and spaghetti suppers." I say, fully fund youth ministry so that kids can attend conferences and concerts. If the kids want to give money to Heifer International or Habitat, have them earn the money at home.

The MLC holds on to stinky clothing, moldy Reader’s Digest books and tupperware lids month after month. They don’t lower prices, they don’t welcome shoppers and they take forever to add your money so you can run to the next sale.

St. Casserole

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I'm moving slowly this morning. The cats played kitty races all night long. The dog ended up roaming the house instead of being put to bed. I think LD's radio kept me dreaming of country and western tunes most of the night.

So, it's time for things you need to know....

If you participate in the cultural construct of leg shaving and wish to shave your legs but have no shaving cream, use hair conditioner. It works and keeps your legs soft.

When preparing to polish your sterling flatware and hollowware, do not line your kitchen sink with tin foil and then soak your sterling there. This bad advice ruins good sterling. If you have "bad" sterling, who cares but sterling is inheritable. Why pass on your lazy mistake and damaged sterling? Use Maas or one of the polishing creams. Use that stinky petroleum based wading if you want a greasy patina. Yuk. Stay with a good polish.

Paula Dean of The Lady and Sons restaurant suggests that pouring a can of real Coke (not Diet) into a china toilet, waiting an hour then do a gentle scrub. Clean toilet! This news confirms what I've worried about with my Diet Coke Drinking Habit.

A good pedicure is a thing of beauty. OPI's "What the el" (or something like that) is the new preferred Fall/early Winter toe color of choice for clerical toes.

Try to learn the difference between tapestry, needlepoint and counted cross stitch. If nothing else, you'll save me time scouring eBay for vintage needlepoint.

A "bangle" bracelet is closed; a "cuff" bracelet is open. "Cuff" means like a shirt cuff which opens. A "bangle" makes a jangly sound when worn with other bracelets. Wear your bracelets in groups of odd numbers: one or three or five.

When preparing your sermon, try not to spend all your time doing exegesis and going off into wonderland with Greek or Hebrew word games. (Note to self: REALLY pay attention to this).

After all your sermon prep, remember that it is your love for your people which communicates. Study, study, study. Write, re-write then write again. Finally, love your people.

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling Me to Get Going,

St. Casserole

Friday, October 06, 2006

Today is the Second Anniversary of St. Casserole Blog

Where I come from, we celebrate anniversaries by placing a shiny cookie on a rabbit's head. This recalls the spiritual walk of St. Stafu, the Tongan holy man who began the practice.

Happy Blogiversary to this blog!

Happy am I to know all of you!

Happy I'll be to give you all a shiny cookie for your rabbit's head for your anniversary.

I suppose this picture should be used for all RGBP anniversary posts. Ya think?


St. Casserole whose life is richer for knowing you

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I asked a fellow member of the Preacher's Coffee Group to discuss the problems she has with me. We were in the group surrounded with people who know us both and love us. She glared at me, stood up, left the room then returned to tell us that she had problems with all of us. Then she left.

I am sorry about this. I assumed that we would work out our differences and go forward.
Instead, she did the Alexis Carrington* stomp out of the room when conflict happens.

I'm just telling you about this because the PCG can't stop discussing this. I'm sorry she responded to me and us this way, realize it doesn't have much to do with me and hope she will return.

Conflict can increase intimacy. The church is full of conflict. Dealing with conflict is a frequent activity for pastors.

I'm thinking about all of this. Haven't told you many of the details but perhaps you have something to add?

St. Casserole

*dated reference to long-ago television show called "Dynasty". No one listened to anyone else. Everyone got angry before hearing all the information. People blasted in and out of rooms if they got anxious, angry or scared.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Every morning, I read our local newspaper, the state paper and the NY Times.
I did a search in the NY Times for "rev." and discovered that we reverends are either getting in trouble or doing weddings.

Going for more coffee. Right. Now.,

St. Casserole