baby napping

On the Seventh Day, God Napped

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. ~Genesis 2:1-2 (NRSV)

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
~Psalm 121:3-4 (NRSV)

baby nappingI was sure I’d be back in church within one week of my daughter’s birth—not as a pastor, but as one of the faithful, gathered in the pews, free to worship God without fear.

No worries about the Sunday School program, the evening youth group meeting, the prayer I was about to deliver, or the pile of emails waiting in my office. For my six blessed weeks of parental leave, Sunday would once again be Sabbath, a day of rest and reflection, a day to savor with my new little family, a day to relax in the good graces of God’s satisfaction with creation.

And so, a week and half after her birth, with twenty minutes to go before the service began, I found myself sitting on the couch with an adorably decked out baby. I, however, was wearing my pajamas and hadn’t
showered in a few days. Getting to church was not going to happen. I never made it back to worship services consistently until I returned to full-time work six weeks later.

As I began ministry, the idea of Sabbath was important to me. It was easier for the first few years after I was ordained because I was in a Monday-Friday para-church position. Sunday was Sabbath. I went to my
church, I relaxed a bit, I prepared myself for the week of ministry ahead of me.

Three months after beginning a new position in congregational ministry, I was pregnant. As a new mother and a new congregational pastor, I began to wonder how this whole Sabbath thing was going to work. Not only did I face the task of carving out a day other than Sunday, I had to guard this day with my life, keeping back the tasks and worries of ministry to allow for some open space. Plus, many of the ideas I’d had for my Sabbath seemed completely impractical with a newborn. Long walks in the woods surrounded by the glories of creation? Not if it interfered with nap time. A strict interpretation of “no work?” It sounds great, but try telling a new mom that breastfeeding or formula-mixing, not to mention changing diapers, does not count as “work.” Read more

This Month: Visual Art and Poetry

For this, our inaugural feature, we bring you two very different pieces, “On Women and Children and Poverty,” a visual piece by Suzanne Stovall Vinson, and “&,” a poem by MaryAnn McKibben Dana.

While the medium and focus of the two pieces differ from one another, each piece speaks to the particularity of women’s experience while touching on broader themes that unite many of us.

Are you a poet, fiction writer or visual artist? We want to hear from you! Please see our submission guidelines for more information.

And now, on to Christ & Creativity…

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black and white photos of different faces covering a large wall, with three women on a bench looking at them

A Whole Person

black and white photos of different faces covering a large wall, with three women on a bench looking at them

Last night as we lay in bed, my husband Simon, who is a student at the college where I am the chaplain, mentioned that a fellow classmate had asked to “friend” him on Facebook. He asked what I thought he should do, so we began a conversation about his options and how he might handle the situation, knowing that there wasn’t really a perfect answer.

“There are consequences if I choose not to friend her, if I choose to friend her while locking her out of all the personal portions of my page, or if I choose to leave it all wide open,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I don’t want her to see the pictures from the last time we went clubbing or the ones of me in the wedding dress at my stag do.”

Three years ago we never would have had these conversations, but now that I am clergy, these conversations are a constant. We both must filter what we share with the people around us based on context, their confidentiality, and what we want the world to know about The Chaplain.

We all filter the pieces of ourselves that we share with others. Often unconsciously, we build up certain parts of the story and censor others so that what we have to share will flow easily into our listener’s mind, mingling with what they already know about us. Sometimes we choose to filter in order to avoid difficult conversations and truths. And sometimes we filter because we must, because jobs or relationships demand that our story fractures, so that some pieces may remain carefully reserved for telling in special circumstances only. As ministers this is a reality of what we do. Sometimes it is the work that allows us to minister in our context and to our people. Read more