At RGBP, Kathrynzj sets the Friday Five. She says: We lead privileged lives.
True, some are more privileged than others but the fact that we are communicating right now via technological devices puts us in the privileged category.
There are many perks in my life for which I give thanks and then there are some that make everything right in the world during the moment I am enjoying them. I'm wondering what a few of those things - five to be specific - are for you.
To help you along here are just three of mine that I will write more about on my blog: drinking coffee out of a real mug, walking into my home after the domestic goddess has been there, participating in the RevGalBlogPals Big Events.
Thanks, friend, for this great start!
1) This very morning I got into the shower in my old and historic (but operationally funky) house, and I gave thanks that I have a shower to get into and warm-ish water to wash with...not hot, not today, but warmish...I was feeling so very privileged to have a place of privacy and comfort in which to get clean.
2) I have a job and education and skills. Yesterday I was checking out at the Dollar General and a man came in asking for a job application. The clerk told him that he'd have to go to the internet. He said, "But I don't have any internet or computer, I used to play Pong on the Atari, that's all the computer skills I've got!" She said she was sorry but that all their applications were online. I interjected that the local library had computers and classes in how to use them and offered to look up information for him (on my Android Evo 4G Smart Phone, a whole separate wonder of technology) but he said, "no thanks" and rode off on his bicycle. I think it sounded too hard and too complicated.
3) Music. Right now I'm listening to George Winston on Youtube. Pandora is another absolute favorite. I have not been singing in church choir and I miss that, but one day I will get back. In the meantime, music fills a place in my life that nothing else can.
4) I have a local library for which I have a consuming love. I usually go by there on Friday afternoons and return books and pick up new ones. I also get books on CD to keep me company during long car trips, and can download e-books onto my Sony E-Reader. The latter is a great way to get new and popular books that are not easy to acquire in hard copy, due to their popularity. They have children's areas with big cushions where kids can go and lounge to read...oh, that would have been my dream in my childhood library! But I enjoy watching the kiddos use it now.
5) I have family and friends and a church family. Will I say that all is perfect in every aspect of every relationship? No. I think that's part of how relationship works...sticking to it and digging through the icky bits if you can. Some of my family are too far away...many of my friends are WAY too far away...and even my church and church friends are in another town. I wish it could be that all the people I love could drop over for coffee, sweetrolls and fruit accompanied by NPR on a Saturday morning. That I could run by my parents' house and "reboot" the laundry, then stop off later in the day and fold and put it away. That I could stop in at the church to offer volunteer service. But, it is what it is. I am glad and grateful for what I have.
I knit this as a bit of free knitting on BE1. As I listened to the remendously honest, sometimes raw sharing that went on, amazed at the freedom I was feeling in the room, I knit the stories and tears into this. Now it hangs on the back of my chair at work, reminding me that my RevGals have my back. The colors in the original are ever so much brighter and lusher than what I am able to capture here. Imagine the Caribbean Sea and sky...
Running a little late with this meditation: I was travelling on the actual birthday and have been trying to get back into the swing of things since then.
"Meanwhile, please use the comments to share a favorite memory or thought from the past five years, or leave a link if you blog about it..." said Songbird on Monday.
As some others have written, I was in on that first conversation at St. Cass's place about t-shirts...at the very, very, very end. I'd actually been lurking on the conversation for a few weeks (?), having got there via ReverendMommy. I think I'd Googled "women in ministry" and that's how I found her and a few other folks, and watched the start of the conversation.
Now, why was I googling "women in ministry"? I work at a (public) university and always have! I guess because it's been an abiding interest of mine. I'm a woman in lay ministry, descended from generations of laity who "ran their churches." I happen to believe, from those early examples, that the minister/priest/pastor does NOT run a congregation, and that indeed without the conviction and leadership of the lay person, the church is nothing.
Funny, that, because I DO come from a tradition in which the priest must consecrate the elements for Eucharist. Also there are sacraments which include a priest (but take place between God and the person: baptizee; couple marrying, etc.)
BUT, despite what I saw at the altar (always men BTW), I was the little girl playing Communion when I had sleepovers, and I was always the officiant. Not that I wanted to be the priest...I've never wanted that...but somehow I had a feeling that I wanted to be close to God in that way, and that God was just fine with it.
So. I digress. Finding RevGals and watching the energy of the community as it developed, and the joy that the members took in connecting with one another...the sense that we all desired deeper communication about what it means to be God's person within a church structure, and particularly as women...that just clicked for me.
I've never felt less than fully included, and I am grateful for that. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve a group that supports women in ministry...a passion of mine all my life...and mostly I am grateful to have made these amazing friends.
I think for someone just coming in, it may seem daunting: we have history, we have jokes, we've had our troubles and shared tragedies and joys. But we welcome you. We want to hear about your life and your process and your questions. Commenting on the group blog posts, and also commenting on other members' blogs, are the way to get to know people. It's a bit like going into a new church setting...you just have to show up until you are known. I think and hope this group is good at being welcoming...as we all hope our churches are! :)
Being a RevGalBlogPal has meant the world to me. I am grateful!!
Over at RevGals we are discussing Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality by Caroline A. Westerhoff. It's a great discussion...go join in!
The part that really hit me with this book was the baptism issue and the hospitality to the Buddhist monks. IMHO (& I haven't got the benefit of seminary education nor ordination, so it's a very HO), the grace of this action was outstanding.
As an Episcopalian, and many have commented on this thread, it troubles me much that we have a statement on our parish bulletin that says, "we do not practice a closed Communion...that is, if you are a baptized Christian and receive Communion at your own church, you are welcome to receive with us." (my memory of the wording.) So, if you're already saved, come on up....
And, yet, the Feast of St. Matthew was celebrated last week and here is part of the gospel (Matt. 9:9-13):
"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
"On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I wanted to jump right up in church and say, HEY! WHAT UP!? Who do we think we are by closing our Communion and including just us...who are presumably "the healthy"? (More or less; a lot of times less!)
I get the theology of the importance of the sacrament of baptism (the font in my church is by the door...the altar is in front) and the reasons for the attachment of participation in Communion to it. I'm not easy with it, though.
In a discussion of this recently, a friend said, "Well, if they weren't baptized, why would they WANT to take Communion?"
Well, I said, to be A PART OF this community, that's why. This is where I and this particular friend depart ways...she is more "God said it, I believe it, that settles it," and I am more "Jesus didn't say, 'only allow baptized folks to come to communion' so don't let 'em come..."
Said in another way...I believe God calls me to be hospitable in the world. She believes that people have to follow her rules, then it's right to include them. I don't want to be part of that club.
This friend is a cradle Episcopalian who has recently departed the church for an Anglican congregation. Because, according to her, our Presiding Bishop is all about good works and not about the Gospel.
I am very grateful for this amazing group, now two years old; and for the fact that even though we may not always agree on everything, we are all working to bring Christ's kingdom in the world in the best way we know how.
And laughing, crying, holding hands along the way.
As I finished my prayers this morning and considered again the charmed few days that the RGBP Big Event Planning Group had together in Lawrenceville, I kept feeling tears come to my eyes. How could I get so lucky to be involved with such an amazing group of women in ministry? I didn't know that I hungered so for it, that I needed to know what I would learn from it, but it satisfies me in ways that nothing else does.
My therapist says it this way, "You were ready for that connection and you opened yourself to it...and it came to you."
You may know that for a living, I send kids on international education experiences. In this context, I frequently quote St. Augustine: "The world is a book, and the person who does not travel reads only one page."
God's Christian church is the same way. If I stayed in my Episcopalian shell all my life, I would only know that model and polity...and I'd only have my IDEAS about other denominations. Ideas which are being proven wrong, inadequate, and lacking at every turn.
For instance: I never heard of the United Church of Christ before Revgals. We don't have those much in my area. "Church of Christ," a very popular denomination in this area, means something very, very, very, very different than UCC. Oh golly, does it.
"Baptist," to my uneducated mind, automatically meant "Southern Baptist." Guess what? There are lots of sorts of Baptist denominations. I had a pre-conceived idea about "American Baptists," and could I have been more wrong? Doubt it. I am a little embarrassed to admit how ignorant I have been...I like to think of myself as an intelligent and well-read person. Clearly, I have more learning to do!
Another thing I say a great deal in my work is this: "It's all about the relationships you build." I believe this is our best hope for a peaceful future, on the theory (stolen from Senator J. William Fulbright) that if we can send people to work and learn and study together, we won't have to do so much killing of each other in the long run. The program born out of Fulbright's dream is now 61 years old, and more than 250,000 persons have studied, learned, and built relationships across national boundaries.
Perhaps...ecumenical groups like RG are, then, an opportunity to hope for a peaceful and united church. I don't mean ecumenical groups with that as the primary purpose...but groups like ours that have a very specific mission: to support and encourage women in and heading for ordained ministry. As we work toward that mission, we create loving, supportive relationships, and learn that our differences and divisions are not so large...or that they are very large...and how can these be worked around?
God our Father, Mother, and Brother, be with us us as we minister to your world and to each other. Direct us in the ways that you would have us go. Love us when we make mistakes and have kerfuffles. Remind us why we are here.
Home from Greater Atlanta! I did NOT get an earlier flight as I'd hoped (all oversold) and in fact my plane was delayed, so I made it home at about 8:00 p.m. Random thoughts:
What a difference an in-person meeting makes in terms of getting things done!
We have much more work to do in terms of the Big Event, but oh, y'all...it's going to be awesome.
My husband has conked out, but not before asking how it's possible that every one of the people I met could be "the funniest and dearest person ever!!"?
When I meet the rest of you next year at the BE, he will be even more puzzled.
Atlanta...too many people, too many cars.
Atlanta airport...they all parked and came in! Holy cow!
Thank you and God Bless to Songbird, St. Cass, Quotidian Grace, Cheesehead, Natalie, Will Smama, Will The Boy, Will Smama's Smama, Reverend Mommy and her family, Questing Parson, and Abi (who joined us by Skype for this morning's Board meeting).