Matthew 2:13-23 – a sermon for Christmas 1A

When we talk about the first Christian family, we often talk only about the baby Jesus and his mother, Mary.  This may be because the Gospels tell us very little about Joseph. We know he was a carpenter. Artists throughout the centuries have portrayed him as significantly older than the teenaged Mary; we often marvel at the stamina it took for Joseph to plunge head first into the confusing and exciting and scary situation presented to him in dream after dream by Godly angels.  Our scripture for today, from the gospel of Matthew, comes after the Biblical stories that explain Joseph’s engagement to Mary, his understandable distress about her premarital pregnancy, and the first angelic appearance to calm Joseph’s doubts and explain Jesus’ role as Savior. This morning’s passage from Matthew tells of the flight to Egypt, when Joseph saved his son the savior by protecting him from Herod.

Read more

New Poems by “Pink Shoes”

This month we feature two new poems by a pseudonymous blogger who writes at "Pink Shoes in the Pulpit."

Check out her poems below the jump…

Read more

Familiar Echoes: My father’s footsteps

Being young, a woman, and a pastor is something of an enigma to most people. When someone asks me what I do, my response always redirects the conversation. It usually evokes a self-conscious, I-hope-I-haven’t-said-anything-offensive-in-her-presence response first. Then, interest is piqued. A pastor? But you’re so young! And you’re a woman! I often yearn for a more neutral or at least a less exotic profession, but my species is so unique. Most times, I find that people want to understand: she seems normal enough. How did she come up with the idea to be a pastor?

And so, the topic of “what I do for a living” always prompts more investigation. The questions begin, as my conversation partner attempts to unravel the mystery. The first stop: “Oh, you’re a pastor! Is your husband in the ministry, too?” It would somehow be understandable if this were a family affair – a husband and wife pastor team. Putting aside my indignation that I have never overheard a male colleague being asked whether his wife is also in ministry, I add to the puzzle when I answer that my husband works in construction management.

Read more

The Holy Spirit Resides in My Mattress

The Holy Spirit resides in my mattress … I’m pretty sure. The first time I noticed this was when I was in college, though I didn’t call it the Holy Spirit then. I would go to bed after struggling with a paper or project and would wake up with the perfect thing to fit in the project or the perfect connection in the paper. It wasn’t just an idea … it was like the whole paper was written in my head while I slept.

Read more

Doing the Math on My Vocation

Why I should not be a pastor:
I stole money from an employer when I was in high school.
I had plenty of sex outside the sacrament of marriage.
Being a pastor feeds my big head.
I hardly ever pray.

Why I am a pastor:
God called me anyway.

Mr. Handsome Goes to Church

In seminary, my professors taught me many things.  I learned to exegete, to lead a meeting, to sing hymns on pitch, and to recite significant dates in the history of the church.  Unfortunately, I did not learn what to do when a blindingly handsome stranger with straw gold hair and dazzling white teeth began attending the church where I am pastor.

I consider myself a reasonably mature person.  I always scoffed at stories of ministers getting embroiled in sexual indiscretions.  I believed the phenomenon of male pastors running off with their secretaries was an embarrassing mid-life-crisis cliché.  Certainly I would never get so overwrought with passion that I would cross a boundary of appropriate behavior.


Read more

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Most women of the Friends generation
have endured, at least once, that excruciating rite of passage known
as The Break-Up. There are three general types of break-ups:

  • The Amicable Break-Up: The two dating partners agree that one or both of them have outgrown the relationship, and they leave the door open to friendship.
  • The Claw-My-Eyes-Out Break-Up: You are miserable in the relationship and decide to bail.
  • The Ambush Break-Up: You are unceremoniously dumped, or your dating partner makes life unbearable to force you to throw in the towel.

For young clergywomen these personal kinds of break-ups may have eerie parallels in the professional world. We are, after all, still discovering our pastoral gifts and searching
for the environments that will allow our ministries to flourish. It is likely that we will have to break up with a congregation at some point early in our careers.

Read more

Throwing Stones

My computer sang that familiar tune. I am compulsive about checking email. It doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing when that song begins. I instantly minimize the open document on my screen and jump into the inbox of my email account. It is almost always a church member — unless the beloved denominational Mother Ship is zooming out new resources that never seem to translate into our small congregation in Corinth. I prefer the emails from church members who type to share a lingering thought from worship. I love when they send a typed gratitude to thank me for calling when they missed worship.

When my computer sang then, I clicked the message open to inhale its contents. It was an email from Nina. She wasn’t in church on Sunday. She hasn’t been in church for several weeks.

Read more

Can’t We Talk It Over (Just NOT in Bed)?

A few weeks ago, an email went out at Yale Divinity School, inviting students to a meeting about “Ministry in a Sexualized Workplace.” We were to talk about sexual harassment, safety, and other related issues. A student specifically asked one of the assistant deans to hold it, and he responded. So we gathered in an empty classroom with our lunches and our backpacks, greeted the two local clergy women that he invited in as resources, and waited. He opened with a question.

You know that awkward moment when nobody speaks up?

That didn’t happen.

Just about everybody had something to say.

Read more

Spring in Bloom: Photos

Today Fidelia’s Sisters celebrates spring with some flower photography by Katherine Willis Pershey. Katherine writes:

I am a beginning photographer; after inheriting a good camera from my sister a few years ago, I now have, in my infant daughter, a pressing inspiration to learn how to use it. In addition to taking hundreds of photos of Juliette, I’m practicing learning the alchemy of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO at the  South Coast Botanic Gardens. Having grown up in the Midwest, the cactus gardens and butterfly amaryllis of Southern California have yet to lose their exotic, unfamiliar beauty.

Read more