I Cannot Do This Alone

Part II in a series — read the first part of Michelle’s story "Epiphany" in the August 2008 The Ones We Love column.

The doctor pushed the curtain aside
and left to document the conversation in the file, leaving Shon and I to absorb
the jagged pill he had just forced us to swallow. “There’s something on the left side of your
brain.” How were we supposed to respond
to that? No questions came to mind. There were no particular concerns I could
voice. I really did not even have any
feelings at all, save utter shock. In that moment of revelation I could only
stare at my husband and try to imagine the big dark mass lurking underneath his
thick brown hair and perfectly smooth scalp. It had to be a joke.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

Shoes She knew it was over.
She knew it was over.  Right then as she followed the Head Deacon out of the narthex toward her office, Lexi knew that this was the end.  Her heels clicked across the floor with an unexpected certainty.  It was then she knew that her days in Corinth were over.  She had served this small congregation faithfully.  They had tried to make it work.  She had tried to be the pastor they so desperately wanted but she couldn’t be that person – not for them or herself. 
Lexi didn’t know what awaited her once her office door was closed.  She couldn’t think of anything that she had done wrong – but already knew that whatever she had done had not been right.

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Navigating the Fishbowl

We’ve bought the school clothes… but they have been untouched since the
shopping trip, still tucked in the closet, tied securely in plastic
bags from Target. School supplies, too—we’ve crossed everything off the
list, but the pencils are unsharpened, the erasers still encased in
their clear packaging.

I’ll deal with it later.

Later is Tuesday.

Could I be feeling some ambivalence about my eldest child going to
kindergarten, about seeing her swallowed up by the large yellow school
bus?

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The View from Your Ministry

Thanks to everyone who contributed photos for "The View from Your Ministry"! A few of our favorites appear below the fold.

Also congratulations to Emily Chapman, who won the drawing for a Young Clergy Women tote bag and other goodies.

It is exciting to get a glimpse of the different contexts in which we do our work. Though the contest has ended, feel free to keep sending photos of "the view from your ministry" and we’ll publish them in a future Christ and Creativity column.

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Epiphany

Just out of seminary, I was a little apprehensive about stepping into my call as solo pastor. To be perfectly honest, I was terrified. My biggest fear centered on my ability (or lack thereof!) to preach every week. I tend to be a decent writer, and I did well with my preaching in seminary, but the writing process had always been a painful one for me. My tendencies toward perpetual procrastination and perfectionism would collide to form a mental block whenever I sat down at the computer. I felt an obligation to write THE sermon: biblically grounded, solid scholarship, humorous, interesting for all age groups, practical, and, of course, awe-inspiring. This was the Word of God after all–not to be taken lightly!

Three months into my ministry I was still fighting this weekly battle. Saturday nights were torture. Sunday mornings were anxious. Sunday afternoons were naptime. Perhaps it was no coincidence that everything changed on Epiphany.

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(Extra)Ordinary Time

For lectionary-followers, this summer has been an unusually long slog through Ordinary Time. Maybe it’s getting a little too ordinary for you by now. Help is on the way, though. For August 31, the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (year A), the lectionary presents us with several stories of people pulled from the ordinary. Laura Stephens-Reed presents us with the following call to worship, an excellent example of how a finely crafted call can be beautifully written, liturgically appropriate, and gently exegetical. Inspired by her good work, Erica Schemper adds a short prayer that might also be used on that Sunday.

With a few weeks left until August 31, we’d love to see a few additional worship ideas posted in the comments!

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Grace at the Graveside

“Be still and know that I am God” the Psalmist instructs us.   

Be still.

Be still.

Be still.

With varying degrees of success, this has been my mantra as of late.  Ministry is quite the opposite of stillness; ministry requires moving—running ahead of deadlines, walking with the hurt, throwing out hope, catching blessings, dancing and leaping for joy.  Stillness won’t write the monthly newsletter, prepare a congregational prayer, lead retreats, authorize bus repairs, exegete a text, teach Bible study, answer e-mails, serve communion, visit the homebound, and then squeeze in time for a social life.   

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A Home of Her Own

I blamed the puddle on the kitchen floor on my dog Sophie, who sat,
wagging her tail and gleefully chewing on her bone as I ranted about
her apparent issues with appropriate places to pee.  Then I felt the
drip on my head.  A quick sniff of the liquid I’d just mopped
up was further proof that the puddle of water was from my leaking
roof.

Yip
– pee.

Oh,
the joys of homeownership.

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I do not own a robe

Well, perhaps that is not entirely
accurate.  I did purchase a clerical robe just before Christmas,
a woman’s robe off the rack at Cokesbury that doesn’t fit and has
blood red piping that prohibits me from wearing it in my church. 
I only bought it because I needed to spend my professional allowance
for the year and since I was a newly ordained pastor, I thought buying
a robe seemed like the way to go.  Currently it is hanging in my
closet in a makeshift garment bag that the salesman fashioned with a
garbage sack.  I may let it hang there forever, an expensive and
disintegrating token of affection towards the clerical garments I am
told to wear.

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The Frozen Chosen

Standing in the narthex of the church on the last summer day of July, Lexi shook hands with the few and the proud that had come to worship that morning. With each handshake, she heard the typical comments.

“Nice sermon.”

“Thanks for worship today.”

Lexi hated these comments. She wanted to know more. She wanted to know what made her sermon so “nice” or why someone would thank her for worship when it was supposed to be the work of the people. And yet, she couldn’t allow herself to get lost in these thoughts. She was greeting her church family. She was grateful to be among them.

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