Long Road Home: Music by Stacey Midge

We young clergy women are a multi-talented bunch. (Do you sculpt? sew? shoot photos? string words together? We want to hear from you.)

You’ve read Stacey Midge’s witty articles for Single Rev’s Guide to Life. Did you know she is also a musician? Click below to hear her play "Long Road Home":


Note: Since the Christ and Creativity column is less discussion oriented, we will be closing comments each month. However, if you’d like to offer feedback to the artists we feature, please contact the Christ and Creativity editor, MaryAnn McKibben Dana, at creativity(dot)ycw(at)gmail(dot)com.

Love the One You’re With (Er… Yourself)

After services one Sunday, I walked into the sacristy to thank the altar guild for their work. The acting altar guild chair said those words we all long to hear: "Are you tired? Because you look really tired." I was, in fact, really tired. I hadn’t taken a day off in nearly a month.

I hadn’t meant to not take a day off. It just happened. What with a diocesan convention here, a religious arts festival there, some pastoral care emergencies, Lenten planning, and of course, the weekly parade of bulletins, committee meetings, and sermons, it had just been easier to keep going. For me, taking time off sometimes feels like one more thing on the never-ending to-do list.

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Holy Housework

The work of Lent is something of a spiritual house-cleaning: whether it involves organizing a back closet, bringing out and discarding things that need to go, adding something beautiful to a room, making space for a new guest. Hard work, but it sounds so beautiful when it’s something done in your heart and soul.

But in the midst of all that spiritual work, the everyday work of dusting, scrubbing and organizing real rooms doesn’t go away. This month, we bring you a sermon that reminds how this, too, is a spiritual pursuit.

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One Wedding… and a Funeral?

I have this dorky parish clergy daydream. I like to imagine
that as the years go by, all the different sacramental rites at which I’ve
officiated or preached will blend together into a bizarre mélange of baptisms, communions,
funerals, and weddings, so that I will no longer be able to remember in which
significant moment of someone’s life I took part. I’m sure that there will be a
few that refuse to conform; some, for whatever reason, will refuse mix in the
melting pot of memories. One of my Unforgettable Sacraments will be the first
wedding I ever officiated, not because it was my first time to pronounce two
people husband and wife, not because the bride and groom were my close friends,
but because someone died during the middle of the ceremony.

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Did You Really Just Say That?

Ministers are often the recipients of odd and not entirely appropriate
comments, so most of us get used to putting on our unfazed faces and
playing along.  However, there are limits.  I have to admit that my
professional poise slipped a bit when a leering photographer at a
wedding I was officiating leaned over and whispered that I had “great
legs for a minister.”  Aside from being unsure whether that was really
a compliment, I felt speechlessly awkward, as though both my person and
my vocation had been somehow violated.  In another kind of workplace,
this would have been considered sexual harassment; for a minister, the
recourse is not so clear.  When so much of our ministry depends on
hospitality and graciousness, when and how do we draw the line? 

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Whose Hair Is It, Anyway?

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God
with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if
a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long
hair, it is a glory to her?
(1 Corinthians 11:13-15a)
Ah, hair. Who knew the collection of threads growing out of our heads could be the source of such contemplation and consternation! Nearly
every young clergy woman I know has had at least several conversations
with herself and others about what her hair means both to her and her congregation.

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The Light of Christ

OK, so it was a cheesy children’s sermon anyway. Though most children’s sermons—or at least the ones I give—come that way, this was particularly so. But it was Easter—my first ordained Easter!—so amidst all the preparations for Holy Week services, and especially my much-anticipated Easter sermon, I grabbed the first half-decent object lesson I found. At least the adults would like it.

For $2.99 I bought a foam brick at a craft store and stuck candles in.There were regular candles on the left and right, and a trick candle smack dab in the middle. When it came time in the service I marched to the front of the chancel and confidently called, “I would like to invite all the children to join me for the children’s sermon.”

“The Bible says that Jesus is the light of the world,” I told the children, pulling out my brick. “The light shining in the darkness.” I took out a match and lit the middle candle. “But do you know what happened to Jesus on the cross?” The tiny hands of our three budding theologians shot into the air.

“Jesus died on the cross!” shouts Susie smiling. Read more

A State of The Young Clergy Women Project Update

I suppose January is as good of time as any to take stock in an organization’s progress. Annual meetings dot the calendars of churches, college presidents reassure alumni and alumnae with updates, and the United States president interrupts prime time television with his State of the Union address.

Sadly, there is no potluck luncheon following this address, but happily, there will also be no democratic and republican reactions, either.

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Body Beautiful

I struggle
with the notion of embodied faith, not because I don’t like the idea, but
because I don’t like my body. My body is
a place of deep imperfection and frustration. It’s never thin enough, perky enough, cute enough, strong enough, or
beautiful enough.

As the chaplain
to a small women’s college my misperceptions of my own body rise to the surface
on a regular basis. My day-to-day
actions set an example for the women around me. The amount of rest I get, my fitness level, my stress level, and my
eating habits are of as much interest to the students as my theological
knowledge or spiritual well being. We often imagine that the minds of small
children are like little sponges, absorbing everything around them, and assume
that by college age this formation is done. But college students are much the same, soaking up the adult world
around them, trying on identities to determine which ones might fit. I know that just as they try on the personas
of the other students, they will also try on my identity to see if it mirrors
what they would like to be themselves. I
would hate to find out that my body issues reinforced or supported the same self-loathing
behavior in anyone else.

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Breastfeeding as Spiritual Practice

The mother can lay her child tenderly to her breast, but our tender Mother Jesus can lead us easily into his blessed breast through his sweet open side, and show us there a part of the godhead and of the joys of heaven, with the inner certainty of endless bliss (Ibid. 239).

When my husband and I signed up for our labor and delivery classes at Meriter Hospital, I looked forward to these sessions with both excitement and trepidation.  It was unfortunate that we missed the last class, which was on breastfeeding.  I never really thought it would be a big deal.  After all, my mother never had any problems, and I knew women had been doing this for ages.  The thought of taking a class on a "natural" biological event seemed a bit strange.

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