Sermon and the City

You are now reading into a moment when this minister wishes there was no church at all, so that she could enjoy a Saturday night like everyone else.

Tonight I wrote a sermon in the midst of a party I could not attend.

I live in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, a city that is currently teeming with the excitement of both St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the Big 10 Basketball Tournament.  I actually live across the street from Conseco Fieldhouse, where the tournament is being held.  I didn’t really choose this location because I love basketball, but for the energy and excitement of downtown life.  I moved into this building so it would be easy to meet people and have fun.  After living in New York City for three years, I was not too excited about biding my two-year fellowship in a garden apartment in the suburbs where I knew no one.  So I opted for a choice location right in the middle of it all.  Indianapolis is actually a pretty great city, and has a good downtown.  I can walk to Nordstrom’s and the Indy Repertory Theater and Sushi on the Rocks.  I live next door to a rowdy dueling piano bar.  The bartenders know my drink and I have met some great people in my building. 

Read more

Taming the Busyness: Getting Organized and Staying That Way

Ministry is a high calling: a cliché, but also true. We have the joy and privilege of being present at the milestone events of life—births, weddings, deaths—what some of us call “hatch, match and dispatch” in our cheeky moments. One of the practical things I learned in seminary was this: when the call comes that a parishioner has died, hang up the phone, take out the calendar, and cancel any non-essential commitments for the next several days. The pastoral care and funeral are now the priorities. Then turn to the following year’s calendar and write a reminder to contact the family: “anniversary of Rose’s death—call her daughter.”

Tending to one’s calendar seems like a mundane activity in the midst of the emotional upheaval of a death—and it is. And yet our ministries are full of such moments. Yes, ours is a lofty calling, but we still need to get things done. There are plenty of urgent and important matters in ministry (death of a church member). Others are not urgent, but deeply important (our own self-care). Still other issues are merely urgent, but not important (insert your own example here). How do we organize our lives so as to make the best use of our time, while providing flexibility to respond to needs as they arise?

Read more

Oh Mother, Where Art Thou?

It just happened again. I put down a copy of my seminary alumni magazine, after reading yet another article about how clergywomen can “have it all”. In the nearly seven years since my ordination and ten years since I began my seminary career, the drumbeats insisting that clergywomen can be both full-time pastors and full-time mothers have grown steadily louder and more resolute. Not only can we do this, the voices chorus, but we should do this. Evidently we owe it to the church to model the ways in which the best congregation can live out the ideals of the Christian family. This means ministry and mothering overlapping in as many ways and settings as one can imagine. It is now de rigueur for women pastors to describe their intertwined work and family life after the arrival of a child by boasting along the lines of, “I brought her to work and breastfed while wearing vestments.”

Read more

New Art and Poetry

This month we are pleased to offer visual art and poetry together from two different artists, Mary Allison Cates (who created a series we featured in Advent) and Heidi Koschzec. Both works appear below the fold.

Do you sculpt? sew? shoot photos? string words together? We want to hear from you.

Read more

Love Thy Neighbor


My seminary boyfriend broke up with me just a few days before I was supposed to go house-hunting.  It was my senior year, and I had just accepted an exciting new call as an assistant rector.  A girlfriend of mine named Mary peeled me off the floor of my dorm room and insisted on driving me to look for houses in this town in which I had never visited, much less lived.  Moving away from all that I knew felt terrifying. Mary metaphorically held my hand while we visited apartment after apartment, until I found "the one."  The townhouse was brand new, painted a cheerful cream, in a somewhat Pleasantville-like neighborhood.  Mine was a sweet two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, with a rent in the outer limits of what I could afford.

Read more

Good Friday: A Service of Shadows and Stones

Our congregation has used Taizé, Tenebrae, and narratives of the Passion in past Good Friday services. I grew up in a congregation that often used the 7 last words of Christ as a focal point. I wrote this liturgy to combine some of these elements, but also wanting to add some concrete way for people to respond. I came up with the idea of using stones: stones as worry stones; stones as weights; stones as symbols of altars built where people have an encounter with God; and stones as used in modern Judaism to leave at a grave site as a way to honor the memory of the deceased.

Read more

Why College Chaplaincy?

An Imaginary dialogue between a college student and her chaplain.

Student: Chaplain
Kate, I have to interview someone for my First Year Seminar class. Would you mind if I asked you a few

Chaplain: That sounds
fine to me. What are you researching? 

S: Well, we were supposed to interview a professional woman
about her job. I was kinda curious about
why you are a chaplain so I thought I’d ask you, if that’s okay, that is…um,
well, and if you have time…

C: That sounds good
to me. I’ve got some spare time
now. Ask away.

S: So why are you a chaplain?

Read more

Not What You Might Expect

After a long pause in our conversation,
I suppose that he felt the need to ask another question.  I was
inclined toward hanging up.  The conversation had been annoying
thus far.  I didn’t see the potential for improvement.

“So, what’s your favorite movie?”

It is probably best that this was
a phone conversation so he couldn’t see my eyes roll with the exasperated
gesture that accompanied it.  He asked this exact question three
times – in our three previous phone conversations. The fates hadn’t
aligned as his first email contact arrived in my inbox days
before Christmas. Though he was heading out of town to see family,
my schedule was more of a nightmare. Our casual emails drifted as New
Year’s arrived. We had graduated to the phone by then. It was clumsy.
And yet, our conversations had always had this tone of silence.

Read more

The Fake Search

at a local governing board meeting, the chair of a search committee presented
his candidate before the governing body with the words, “We really did have a
real search.” I sat
back in my pew, folded my arms, and rolled my eyes, because we all knew the
truth. It was just another sham.

you ever fallen prey to the fraudulent pastoral search? Do you know what I’m
talking about? Between my husband and me, we’ve been caught up in it. I
hate to say just how many times.

Read more

Forbidden love

I’m in love!

Oh, don’t get too excited.  I’m not in love with anyone I’ve actually met. . .or am likely to meet.  This love is a secret love, which is something juicy for me to savor.  I’m not telling many people and definitely not telling members of my congregation.  They are very kind to me, but I think they would find this love of mine polarizing. 

Yes, that’s right, I’m in love with a politician.  A candidate, actually.  A candidate for President.  And I can’t tell ANYONE!  I want to shout my love from the rooftops, proclaim it in the pulpit, but I also don’t want the IRS breathing down my neck.  I feel very strange being in this position.  I used to love politics.  As a kid, I made my own campaign buttons out of card stock and contact paper.  But the last few years, politics has been so stressful, so filled with vitriol and betrayal and power grabbing that I just haven’t been able to bear participating.

Read more