Changes, always changes!

With today’s edition of my seasonal newsletter, a change is happening on this website. I’ve come to realize that the two tools work together – you can hear about my work once every three months when the newsletter arrives in your inbox or you can come here between editions to check out current, updated possibilities.

However, ego carefully tucked away, I have to admit that very few people come here to read my blog! So this blog page is going to morph into something else. A place I can post some extra pictures that didn’t make it into the newsletter, a place to add a little more to what I couldn’t fit into the newsletter, and maybe once in awhile a bigger plug for a special event that’s coming up.

If you want to hear about those additions and updates between newsletters,  you can subscribe to this blog on the upper right side of this screen!

Blessings,

Beth

 

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The Anniversary celebration happened!

What a great day – with great preaching, family, friends, and memories! I’ll be posting more about it here next week – and sharing much more in my seasonal newsletter. If you aren’t on my mailing list, you can sign up for the newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bih8Sn

Meanwhile, blessings on your ordinary/extraordinary ministries!

Beth

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20th anniversary almost here!!!

On June 10th, I am celebrating the 20th anniversary of my ordination! If you’ve been on my mailing list for awhile – or following this website – or seeing me on Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – you know all about this already. But, as time has gone by, my relationship to the celebration has changed slightly… so I feel free to tell you all about it yet again!

It starts with the Examen of Grace – a six step process of examining life for evidence of God’s grace. The first step is to walk back through the previous day with God, seeing it as God would see it. The second step is to give thanks for a gift of the day. The third step is to celebrate God’s empowering love in some time when you were loved or loving. The fourth step is to celebrate God’s undefeated love in some time when you were less than loved or loving. The fifth step is to ask for a specific grace for the day to come and the final step is to fully describe what that day will look like when it holds that grace.

I’ve been doing the Examen, fitfully, for decades but this year it has been one of my goals to do it monthly, seeing the gifts and grace that has been with me on a slightly larger and more regular basis. And, this morning, I used the Examen to look back at my years of ministry – where were the gifts, the evidence of empowering and undefeated love – as well as looking forward for the future years of ministry – what grace will I need for those years?

I had some help in doing that decades-long overview: a recently written, full and complete (I hope), Curriculum Vitae, Latin for “course of life.” Like a resume but covering every article written, public speaking event, major (and minor) project, etc., etc., etc.

Yes, I know I should have done it long ago but I didn’t – and now it was a huge project, involving aging paper, almost a decade of iCalendar, old cds of church files and documents, some of which only open in text interspersed with small blank boxes – and some that wouldn’t open at all. (I wonder what was so important that I wanted to save it  but not important enough to reformat?)

But the most interesting thing in this process has been seeing the overview of my life, the arc of my ministry, the theme that ran through every congregation I’ve served and every job I’ve had and probably every sermon I’ve preached!

It’s an interesting way to see one’s self and one’s work and I strongly recommend creating one no matter what field you are in.

And no, I’m not going to tell you what I saw; you’ll need to be with me on June 10th for that – or read the Summer 2018 newsletter!

You can see details of the service here and of the fundraising to support new pastors here. And if you aren’t on my mailing list to receive my seasonal newsletter, you can join that here.

I hope you share my celebration with me in some way – and look for that arc in your own ministry. And if you and I have shared some part of either of those, you can email me at beth20anniversary@gmail.com!

Blessings,

Beth

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Child abuse creates adult storms

You know I lead Safe Sanctuary and Safe Church trainings, right? Another online session starts on May 7th and, this week, I updated some statistics for that session. While the statistics come from many sources, one source that I find particularly distressing is childhelp.org. They do such a thorough job of outlining the problems that it makes me, who has worked with this topic for almost 20 years, anxious.

Here’s a few examples:

  • The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between 4 and 7 children every day to child abuse and neglect.
  • Individuals who reported 6 or more adverse childhood experiences had an average life expectancy 2 decades shorter than those who reported none. Ischemic heart disease (IHD), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), liver disease and other health-related quality of life issues are tied to child abuse.
  • In one study, 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least 1 psychological disorder. Other studies show significant mental and reproductive health issues. (You can see all the sources for these statistics on the childhelp website.)

So, today, when payments to a porn star are making the news, I began to wonder.

The connection between child abuse and prostitution is well documented. (As long ago as 1995, the US Department of Justice documented the connection between child abuse and multiple sexual crimes.) But adults creating pornography is not a crime.  And there seems to be a division on the topic: some researchers think that there is a direct link between being abused as a child and creating or using pornography as an adult. Others say that it can’t be proven.

I suppose I’m a bit of a prude on the topic; showing my years, I guess! I am still shocked by a church leader who apparently fell in that second group, someone who defended pornography at a Safe Sanctuary training…

But I can’t help but wonder if, along with the MeToo movement, we are at a place where we can talk about sexual abuse of both children and adults, male and female, in a way that includes the long term affects on society.

Was there a time in the life of folks in the news today when a safe church – or a safe home or school – might have been a help? And what is the future of the children and youth in our care today if we don’t provide safety for them now?

Relieve my anxiety a little and make sure your policy is up-to-date and being followed! Thank you!

Blessings,

Beth

 

 

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Gypsies….

I’ve been doing genealogy since I was 17 years old, a gift from a great uncle who was proud of his Welsh heritage and wanted me to know the five generations he could trace, long before the internet! Today, I have nine generations on several sides of the family (England, Switzerland and Germany) – and 14 on another, stretching back to 16th century Prussia.

So getting an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas was a joy – and I was so excited to get my results. And yes, those places were all there in the DNA, but there were also other places that were a surprise – like “Asia South” (India and surrounding countries)!

I admit to being a little befuddled by that… how did that tiny genetic marker get out of India and into me, via Prussia, Germany, Switzerland, England, and Wales? Then someone said, “You know the Gypsies were from India, right?” (And no, I didn’t…)

This week, there’s been some turmoil in theater circles: a popular ceremony is being renamed. It’s now called the Gypsy Robe ceremony, a name which has a variety of connotations. First, its connected to the play Gypsy, about a woman known as “Gypsy” Rose Lee. But her nickname – “Gypsy” – came about because she was part of the chorus. People in the chorus  were called “gypsies” because they moved so frequently from small part to small part, from one play to another. The name played on the stereotype of the nomadic Roma people, called Gypsies because they were wrongly believed to have originated in Egypt!

In the 1950’s the “Gypsy Robe” ceremony developed: passing a mantel – a robe – to the member of the chorus with the most Broadway credits. It is a recognition of the hard work and creative ability of the “gypsies.” But the original term was derogatory both to the chorus members and to the ethnic group! Yet there are still folks who want to preserve the “tradition” of the ceremony’s name.

I know its just coincidence that these two random trains of thought would meet for me this week. I know that I have very little connection to either the Roma people or to the folks in the chorus of most of the plays I see. But today, I’m feeling a little joy that the ceremony is being renamed, which is, perhaps, a little validation of people over tradition.

And I just wish that every time I caught myself saying or thinking or doing something that put my comfortableness with my heritage above the comfort and heritage of others, I’d remember that I just might have a little of their DNA, too.

What about you?

Blessings,

Beth

 

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Interpretation

As a new session of my Leading Bible Study: Biblical Interpretation course begins today, I’m still in post-Easter mode. The lilies and other spring flowers were still blooming in worship yesterday with continued Easter hymns and post-resurrection scriptures. This morning my throat was sore and I was worried until I remembered the fragrance in the sanctuary! Easter!

But I’ve also been having some on-going Easter-related discussions… One about Jesus Christ Superstar – is the problem that there’s no resurrection or is the problem that they ran it on Easter instead of Good Friday? (And by the way, didn’t it do exactly what Mark’s gospel’s original ending did: pull you back into the story again and again?)

Another about a Lenten devotional that just wasn’t satisfactory but still engaged us with each other in ways that we might want to duplicate beyond Lent!

And another about a sense of hope in the face of an uncertain future – and about all the possibilities just waiting to be explored!

It occurs to me that this is all a matter of interpretation, isn’t it? Do we interpret the ascension of the cross in Superstar as resurrection and ascension? Or as death and disappearance? Do we interpret that devotional as unsatisfactorily written? Or as satisfactorily connective? Do we interpret future uncertainty with fear? Or with hope?

I pray that you also haven’t left Easter behind yet… that you are facing all your future with hope… and that you are interpreting all that is around you in ways that bring fullness of life to the world!

Blessings,

Beth

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Easter Monday

On Saturday, I checked out my closet… I am very traditional in some ways and Easter is the day to start wearing spring clothes. So, I tried on a few thin spring outfits, remembered how cold St. Peter’s sanctuary is, and retreated to wool slacks and a cashmere sweater!

But then it was lovely yesterday! And the sanctuary wasn’t too cold – and the walk home with coat and cashmere was a bit too warm… And then today it snowed. Sigh.

I wish I had a dollar for every plan I made which changed unexpectedly! Big things (as a child I planned to live on a farm and have ten children….) and little things, like the wrong clothes for Easter morning. I have learned to laugh at them – my carefully conceived expectations – and to be a little more spontaneous.

I try now to react more to the weather, the experiences, the moments instead of plodding through the plans in my head whether they fit the situation or not.

Yesterday, a preacher encouraged us to actually celebrate those situations! To recognize all the times when we can say, “I have seen the Lord!” along with Mary Magdalene. All those times when something unexpected happened that we couldn’t conceive of but that shows the Risen Christ to the world: Me, Too; Black Lives Matter; March for Our Lives… All those times when the one who is defeated finds new life!

I pray that as you go through your post-Easter week, you’ll find some unexpected moments, moments of resurrection hope and promise, and that you’ll celebrate them in ways that show Christ to the world!

Blessings,

Beth

 

 

 

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