Friday, September 24, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: we who sing pray twice

as posted by MaryBeth

Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.

Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: "He who sings prays twice." A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn't say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn't fit well onto a t-shirt. So we'll stick with what we have.

Note: This is the rabbit chasing section.

I have to say that this comment sent me on a wild goose chase across the internet searching for what was said. The last time I read this much Augustine was 1994 for a class on City of God.

Here is what I found considering my lack of desire to go to the nearest theological school to search the volumes of text and my non-existent ability to read Latin for myself.

The quote which St. Augustine actually said was:

"For he that singeth praise, not only praiseth, but only praiseth with gladness: he that singeth praise, not only singeth, but also loveth him of whom he singeth. In praise, there is the speaking forth of one confessing; in singing, the affection of one loving."
(St. Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 73, 1)

Apparently this has been abridged to "He who sings prays twice" over the centuries.

The quote is referenced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1156:

1156"The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy." The composition and singing of inspired psalms, often accompanied by musical instruments, were already closely linked to the liturgical celebrations of the Old Covenant. The Church continues and develops this tradition: "Address . . . one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart." "He who sings prays twice."21

The corresponding footnote references St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 72, 1: PL 36, 914;. (The reason why the Catechism says Psalm 72 instead of Psalm 73, is because the Catechism is using Psalm numbering from the Septuagint, which fused two of the earlier psalms, meaning the numbering of the later psalms is out of sync with the usual modern listing).

I also found:

"Cantare amantis est" which is variously translated as "Singing is what the lover does," or "Singing belongs to one who loves," or "Singing is loving."


According to one website, the more famous quote is cited as occurring in Sermon 336 as
Qui cantat, bis orat.

Now, back on task.

"Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it." And let's talk about the role music plays in your life and worship.

1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?)

Music in several forms is present daily. I am very often humming something without even realizing it until someone asks me what song it is. A dear friend noticed that the SportsQueen does it, too.

2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience.

Music has always been a part of worship (and everyday life). I grew up in a church with a very rich music program that started with Kindergartners and went through Adult choir with no gaps. There were choir programs twice a year from 4-6th grades, youth (7-12), and adult choirs. It was not extraordinary for a 20+ piece orchestra to be included with the adult choir. More than once Handel's Messiah was preformed either before Christmas or Easter. I had no idea how spoiled I was with the extensive music program I took for granted.

3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?

Music, music, music!

4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!

I like a lot of different kinds of music in worship (and outside of worship, too). When it comes to kinds of music, I agree with Leonard Bernstein. (I remember watching this live and how profoundly his thoughts about music struck me.)

5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points!

My go-to music depends on the circumstance or situation. Here's one option: (from my camera phone live!)

Here's another option

but those are not the only ones

Saturday, September 11, 2010


There's a guy in Florida who has garnered a lot of attention this week for a proposed act for September 11 that doesn't match well with "They will know we are Christians by their love."

This morning I pulled up old sermons to glance at them before heading out to an all day training. I thought it might be a good idea to have those thoughts rumbling around in my head even though I won't be able to focus on the task of sermon writing until much later.

I was struck at the dramatic juxtaposition of this story and the guy from Florida. This story is copied exactly with names intact from an Ecunet meeting I joined many years ago.


My niece sent this to me today. This is from the Facilities Manager at her sister's place of employment, in Fort Collins, Colorado. I hope it touches you, as it did us, to see what REAL Americans are about. God Bless You All, Rob

As this long and horribly tragic week comes to an end, I can not finish my work here today with out expressing to this company some feelings (after discussing it with management).

As you know, I am an American citizen from an Arabic origin and of Muslim faith. Watching the media paint the Islamic world as all hateful toward America and all she stands for, and here in the land of the free, my wife has not left the house for fear of retribution and my children ask, as Americans, are they going to be safe too, just as President Bush promises?

I know as a Muslim, there is nothing in my religion that says it is ok to kill innocent people. So, I am proud to be part of this faith.

And then at noon today something happened that made me even prouder to be a Muslim American.

As with every Friday, around noon, I went to our weekly service at the Fort Collins Mosque (our church building). All of the Islamic females in the community have not been able to attend this week out of fear.

When I arrived, I was completely touched by what I found there. Our Mosque was completely surrounded by members of the Fort Collins Christian community, forming a human shield, with white carnations in their hands.

Tears came to my eyes, and I saw beautiful light shining through the darkness that has covered us this week.

As we went in to worship, I said extra prayers that we are so lucky to be living with this kind of people. I have never felt as proud as an American Muslim, as I did today.

As goodness is not a monopoly for any one race or religion, neither is darkness.

As I grew up in locations all over the world, and settled the last 26 years in America, I truly know what a great place this is to live.

United we stand, Divided we fall.
Thank you,
Your facility manager at your service,

Rob Nedbalek
Poplar/Brockton Lutheran Parish in Northeastern Montana
Saint John's Lutheran Church - Poplar
Our Savior's Lutheran Church - Brockton
Zion Lutheran Church - Rural Brockton

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

buy in

There are a multitude of ways to build relationships with teenagers when you are a high school teacher. But one of the most effective ways to jump start that relationship building is to create "buy in." You, as the teacher, create an opportunity for the students to emotionally invest in your class, or in you, while at the same time, you, the teacher, do the same thing for the students. Some might argue that teachers have already demonstrated their "buy in" by being teachers. But we have all experienced teachers who were present but not invested and "buy in" is all about being invested. You know, caring about the things that matter to someone else. So, for high school teachers, caring about the things that teenagers care about.

The teacher for advanced placement United States History (A PUSH as it's known to the Juniors who take the class) announced on the first day of class that anyone who sang the Star Spangled Banner during the next class would get a "free" homework pass. A particular student who plays trombone convinced the A PUSH teacher to let the band kids (a flute, 2 french horns, and the trombone) play the Star Spangled Banner for that credit. Teacher said, "fine."

Great buy in for both the band kids, who have been playing in band for 5 years, and the teacher.

But wait, there's more.

Side note: Band kids playing instruments outside of band class or pep rallies or other band sanctioned events risk fines and imprisonment. Well, really, they'll get in trouble with the band director. I don't know if the history teacher knew this fact. Regardless, permission to play instead of sing helped with the buy in.

So, on the appointed day, 4 band kids bravely sneak their instruments, three of which are kind of hard to hide, to the A PUSH class and play the Star Spangled Banner. Keep in mind they have been playing this song almost weekly during football season for years. They can play it well from memory in their sleep. So, of course, they do a fabulous job. Amazingly, to the band kids who consider this task one of the easiest things ever, the class cheers! The teacher cheers loudest of all.

Then, he says, "Hey, can you do that again?"

The band kids shrug, "duh."

"Come with me," as the teacher leads them across the hall to the AP European history class (Seniors only), interrupts class and says, "Hey Mrs. History, you all have to hear this!" Where the band kids, play again. And the European history class cheers and claps.

It was the highlight of the first week of school for the SportsQueen.

She bought in.

Friday, September 03, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Storms of Life Edition

As posted by Martha Hoverson

I'm listening this morning for word of Hurricane Earl. Is he coming to visit, or will he bypass my part of Maine and move further Downeast, or veer toward Nova Scotia? Should I buy those bottles of water, just in case wind brings branches and power lines down? And how many times will the tracking map change today?

Herewith, a Friday Five about the storms of life:

1) What's the most common kind of storm in your neck of the woods?

I have two girls ages 16 and 13. It is an understatement to say the drama of adolescence is the most common kind of storm both in my neck and other body parts.

But if you want to know about the weather ...

Everywhere I have lived, I have lived in "Tornado Alley." That means thunderstorms with high winds, hail, and enough rain to cause significant flooding. And in the winter, ice storms are the major threat.

2) When was the last time you dealt with a significant power outage?

The last significant power outage was experienced at my sister's house (also in tornado alley but in a different state where I have never lived). It was summer and she had maybe one flashlight but a billion candles. So we lit candles. And remembered that candles have fire which give off heat. And we created our own indoor heatwave.

The time before that was an outage of more than 3 days when the 16 yo was 1 and there was no 13 yo. That was quite an adventure! The storm still makes the news when they are talking about the "worst" ones in this area.

3) Are you prepared for the next one?

Other than having multiple gallons of water on hand, as prepared as we could be in advance.

Wait, I take that back. All of my tools and tarps and ladders are still at the church after being borrowed for the last worktrip. I probably should get those home.

4) What's the weather forecast where you are this weekend?

5) How do you calm your personal storms?

With as many friends and fun things to do as possible! ... or if I can't make that work, burying myself in a book only coming up for enough food and drink to carry me through the next chapter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Dorm Life Edition

as posted by Martha Hoverson

Yesterday I returned my middle child for his second year of college. He's an experienced dorm resident, having spent two years at a boarding high school. In the lounge at the end of his floor I found a suite of This End Up furniture that took me back to my years in the Theta house at William and Mary. I remember polishing that furniture with my sorority sisters every spring, just before we headed off for Beach Week at Nags Head.

Mindful that many others are heading off to further schooling or delivering their loved ones to the institutions that provide it, here are five questions about dorm life.

1) What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you went away to school for the first time?

A private bathroom. I lived in an "old school" (pun intended) dorm with a common bathroom and shower in the middle of the hallway. My dorm room was the closest to the bathroom/shower so my roommate and I left our door open almost all of the time so we could talk to everyone as they traveled up and down the hall.

2) We live in the era of helicopter parents. How much fuss did your parents make when you first left home?

I was an incredibly independent child in spite of my mother's attempts to be an helicopter parent before anyone knew that terminology. However, my school was 5 hours away and my sister was 8 so my mother didn't really want to drive 10 hours round trip. So, she didn't. I moved all of my stuff by myself into the room in the middle of the hallway on the top floor of the dorm. While I could've used a little help moving the TV, I was thrilled not to have my mother with me.

3) Share a favorite memory of living with schoolmates, whether in a dorm or other shared housing.

The college roommate with whom I continue to stay in contact have several stories about which we could say "you can't rat me out because you'd be in trouble too." However, one publicly tell-able tale is that just after the completion of I-435 at about 11:30 pm one night, we decided that we should drive the entire loop. So, windows down, jamming to the tunes, we did.

4) What absolute necessity of college life in your day would seem hilariously out-of-date now?

Floppy disks, both 5.25 and 3.5 with dot matrix paper.

5) What innovation of today do you wish had been part of your life in college?

Laptops and online library databases/catalogs.

Bonus question for those whose college days feel like a long time ago: Share a rule or regulation that will seem funny now. Did you really follow it then?

10:00 pm curfew to be in the dorm. Nope. Due to my on-campus student job, I had a dorm key. I regularly used it for both legitimate and illegitimate access after hours.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Commissioning of Sunday Church School Teachers and Staff and Blessing of the Backpacks and Lunchboxes

The Commissioning of Sunday Church School Teachers and Staff


Blessing of the backpacks and Lunchboxes

Grace Lutheran Church

Springfield, Illinois

Pastor Juli Lejman-Guy

Commissioning of Sunday School Teachers and Staff

In Christian love, you, the parents and families of this congregation, presented your children for Holy Baptism just as you yourself were Baptized. In baptism, sacred promises are made. It is your calling to keep these scared promises:

To faithfully come AND bring others to the services of God’s house.

To study AND teach the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments.

To use the Holy Scriptures AND to share those with those who do not know the stories.

To take the opportunities to be instructed AND to provide for the instruction in Christian faith.

One of the ways we, as a congregation, help you do this is through our Sunday Church School Program. Sunday Church School is an important part of the life of a Christian, from birth until death, because it is here that you grow in your faith, learn the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and Ten Commandments. You learn the stories of our faith and you join with other Christians as we build up the body of Christ. Today we commission our Sunday School Teachers and Staff.

At this time I would like to invite all of our Christian Education staff members to come forward as your names are read:

Teachers: ____________________________

Staff: ____________________________

Worship Staff: ___________________________

P: Our Lord, who came along among us as a servant, calls us to faith and a life of loving service to our neighbor. You stand among us as one called to render a particular service, a gift from God to inspire us to love and good works.

For as in body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, {5} so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of another. {6} We have gifts that differ according to the grace given us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; {7} ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; {8} the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8 NRSV)

The Minister questions the teachers:

P: Will you assume this ministry in the confidence it comes from God?

R: I will, and I ask God to help me.

P: Will you teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church?

R: I will, and I ask God to help me.

P: Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures and faithful in your use of the means of grace and prayer?

R: I will, and I ask God to help me.

P: Will you trust in God’s care, seek to grow in love for those you serve, strive for excellence in your skills, and adorn the Gospel of God with a godly life?

R: I will, and I ask God to help me.

P: Almighty God, who has given you the will to so these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.

C: Amen

P: I now declare you teachers in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen**

The teachers and staff may sit in the front row until during the children’s sermon portion.

P: Will all of our students join us and bring your backpacks and lunchboxes with you.


Invite all students (preschool through post graduate) to come forward.

Who can tell me what a vocation is?

A Vocation is a call to a specific job. For example: some people are called to be doctors, some teachers, and some even pastors. A vocation is the job that you are naturally good at doing. Our moms and dads have their jobs. They are parents, but they also get up in the morning and go someplace to work. Hopefully, the job they are doing is the job God intends for them. Do you know how we know that? If they love what they are doing and they are good at it then chances are they have found their calling. For example: Mrs. Christell is a schoolteacher. She loves children and is excited about finding new ways to teach you here at church about God and her school kids about English. That’s her vocation.

Now, do you know what it means when we say we are called to be something?

Being called means that God has given you special gifts that are different than others in order to do something special. The Bible tells us that we have all been called to serve God.

OK, if our vocation is that thing we are called to do~ what is your vocation right now in your life? To be students. God wants us to be the best students we cam be. And, God wants us to be the best Christians we can be. In Matthew 5:16 we are told to “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Then other people will learn about God through you.

What are some gifts that you have as students? Eyes to read, ears to hear, teachers, schools, tools, books, computers….Even our backpacks and lunchboxes. PULL OUT TOOLS (paper, pens/pencils, folders, rulers…) and our lunchboxes carry the food we need to stay strong and healthy. We know we need to eat to keep our brains working and our energy level up. Maybe you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and carrot sticks for lunch. But if we eat healthy, we take care of one of the best gifts Gods has given us-our body.

Now, one more question: What is a blessing? A blessing is a way that we bring God into our daily lives. When we get new songbooks we ask that God will help us to use them to sing praises to God. Today we are going to pray that God will help us use these tools- our backpacks and lunchboxes-to make us be the best students we can be.

So let’s lay all of our bags and boxes on the floor together, I’d like for you to place your hands on someone’s backpack and lunchbox. Let us pray. Dear God. Help us to use the tools you have given us in our job as students. We especially ask that you bless these backpacks and lunchboxes to your service. May they remind us always that you have called us to do our best and to be a light for you no matter where we go. Amen.

Now, we are going to bless you as students. Will the adults in the congregation raise your hands as if you were laying them on the head of our young people. Let us pray. Gracious God, we give you thanks for the opportunities to learn. We ask that you bless these students. Give them wisdom to learn; patience in their studies, courage to face new things and compassion for all those they meet that they may let their light shine each and every day. Amen.

Now, will all of the teachers, Sunday Church School and public, come forward and kneel at the altar. And will the children come up here with me and place your hands on the teacher’s heads. Let us pray. O God of wisdom, in your goodness you provide faithful teachers for your whole Church. By your Holy Spirit give all teachers insight into your Word, holy lives as examples to all, and the courage to know and do the truth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And to help you remember you are a child of God to be the best you can be every day no matter where you are I have something for you to take as a reminder. (Stickers/pencils)

**Ending when there is no blessing of the backpacks and lunchboxes

P: I now declare you teachers in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen

The teachers may kneel:

P: Let us pray, O God of wisdom, in your goodness you provide faithful teachers for your Church. By your Holy Spirit give all teachers insight into your Word, holy lives as examples to us all, and the courage to know and do the truth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

C: Amen

The minister blesses the teachers:

P: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, guide, bless, and keep you that you may be faithful in the ministry to which you have been called.

C: Amen

***Commissioning Service is adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship Occasional Services

"Litany of the Blessing of the Backpacks" and "Backpack Blessing"

At this time, I do not have a source in order to give appropriate credit for these works. If anyone can identify the source, I will gladly edit this post in order to give appropriate credit.

Litany of the Blessing of the Backpacks

Left: Crayons,
Right: Pencils,
Left: Scissors,
Right: and glue
Leader: Backpacks, school bags, pencil boxes, too.
Left: Getting up early,
Right: Walking,
Left: So very much to learn.
Right: So many to help:
Left: Teachers, counselors, principals
Right: Bus drivers, secretaries
Left: Cooks, librarians and janitors, too.
Leader: God is with us in our learning and in all that we do.

Left: Riding
Right: or taking the bus
Leader: New teacher, new classmates; new subjects to learn.

Unison Prayer: We thank you, God, for the resources and school supplies
that help our children and students of all ages learn. We thank you for
children and all involved in our children's education. We ask you to
bless workers with children, the children of this extended community, and
persons of all ages who seek to learn and to grow. Amen.

Backpack Blessing
To be used with "Bless-A-Pack, Share-A-Pack,"

L: This Sunday, before the school bells ring, we invite all children who will be returning to school this week to come forward for a blessing. Those of you who have your hearts full of hopes, uncertainties and dreams for this new year, come forward, along with those who have also brought their new supplies and backpacks today.

[Children come forward.]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Youth: Amen

L: In the book of Romans, St. Paul encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern what is the will of God – what is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2b). When Jesus was twelve, he went with his parents to Jerusalem. He stayed in the temple, listening to and asking questions of the teachers there. Will you do your best to listen and learn from the teachers in your school this year? If so, please say: "We will and we ask God to help us!"

Youth: We will and we ask God to help us!

L: Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to rely on what we think we know. If we remember the Lord, the Lord will show us the right way. Will you trust God and look for signs of God’s presence as you go through your school day? If so, say, "We will and we ask God to help us."

Youth: We will and we ask God to help us!

L: (Lifting a backpack) For all the good things God has provided for us, let us join in praise and thanksgiving. For pens, pencils, crayons and markers,

Youth and Congregation: Thanks be to God!

L: For notebooks, paper and folders, calculators and student planners,

Youth and Congregation: Thanks be to God!

L: For these special students: in preschool, elementary, junior high or middle school, in senior high school, college or vocational school; for all their different talents and gifts; and for their insights and commitment to learning,

Youth and Congregation: Thanks be to God!

L: (To the students) As you prepare to go back to school this week, you can bring to God your fears, wonderings and uncertainties about what this new year will bring. Will you invite God to walk with you as you encounter each new day? If so, please say, "We will and we ask God to help us."

Youth: We will and we ask God to help us.

L: Will you pray for those who prepare for school without backpacks to fill and those throughout the world who have only a dream of being a student some day? Will you pray for them, share what you have with them, and offer kind and encouraging words? If so, then say, "We will and we ask God to help us."

Youth: We will and we ask God to help us.

Unison: We thank you, God, for the resources and school supplies
that help our children and students of all ages learn. We thank you for
children and all involved in our children's education. We ask you to
bless workers with children, the children of this extended community, and
persons of all ages who seek to learn and to grow.

A Collection of Resources for Blessing of the Backpacks

This group of resources was compiled by Rev. Lisa Heckman, The United Ministry of Delhi NY

Blessing of the Backpacks>From the Diocese of Georgia courtesy of the Rev. Silito Romero, St. Philip's, San Jose

O Lord God, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world. Grant that teachers and other school personnel may be a means of grace and learning to these students this year. May this year be full of promise for students and teachers alike: . a promise of new beginnings for some and fresh starts for others. . a promise of friendships with classmates and colleagues that refresh the spirit and honor God. . a promise to grow in knowledge and wisdom all the days of their lives. . a promise of safety for each classroom and mutual respect for each student and teacher. May there be enough challenges in school to call upon their best efforts and enough accomplishments to satisfy and delight them. Now bless these backpacks and briefcases as a symbol of your divine wisdom, care, and abiding presence with each of these your children. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

------------------------------------------------- from Connections, the online newsletter of Centered Life Initiative at Luther Seminary

Ahead of time, publicize that all those who attend school should bring their backpacks to worship that Sunday. At the beginning of the worship service on Rally Day, have all students (young and old!) come to the front, asking those who have remembered their backpacks to place them close to the altar. Then invite everyone else who is involved in education to stand-parents and/or guardians of those attending school, teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, school crossing guards, school board members or school activity volunteers, school nurses and social workers, and so forth. Wish everyone well as they begin this new school year. Assure them that your congregation is a community that loves and supports them in all that they do. End by asking God's special blessing on them all, using the prayer that follows if you desire:

Lord, God of Wisdom and Learning, of leaders and learners, these backpacks remind us that a new school year is about to begin. We pray your blessing upon their owners and upon all students, young and old, as they begin this new school year. We ask your blessing, also, on all who work with or support them in their education. Let each person who stands before us now feel the love and support of this congregation, and grant this congregation the wisdom and means to meet their needs throughout the coming year. We all are called to be part of your work in the world, Lord, and you have given each one of us gifts and strengths to use in that work. Help each of these students to discover and develop his or her gifts and strengths and know how to use them for your purposes. Remind them, too, that whatever their gifts, they are doing your work when they are kind and caring to others, when they do their best in their studies and other activities, when they respect others and themselves, and when they contribute in even small ways to make things better or more pleasant for others. Bless also, Lord, those who stand here with the students. Whatever their task or role in education, guide them to do it with a conscious effort to in some way make life better or more pleasant for others. Give them pride in what they do, reminding them and us that even the most ordinary task becomes extraordinary when done in your name. We ask this all, Lord, knowing that you love and hear us. Amen.


Pastor Jennifer English, Calvary Lutheran Church, Grand Forks, ND Kids' Time - When does school start? How many of you are excited? Are any of you a little scared? Why do you have to go to school? God gives all of us jobs; things to do that help us to serve God in the world. This is called our vocation. You have a vocation, and one of your vocations right now is to go to school. You can serve God by going to school and learning about God's world, by being with other people, by being loving toward others. And you learn things you need to know for whatever vocation you might have later in life. And you learn things you need to know for whatever vocation you might have later in life. And you're not just learners. You are teachers; kids have lots of stuff to teach grown-ups about God. You can teach us about faith and love. We need you in school, and we need you here with us at church. So now we want to say a special prayer for you, asking God's blessings as you get ready to start your vocation of being in school. Listen to this story from Matthew's book in the Bible, "Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." God, bless this bag and the child who will use it. Let him/her not be scared, be with him/her as he/she learns and grows this year. Show him/her how to serve you and help him/her to teach us all about your love. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Have all school workers stand: Read Romans 12:4-8. The school system that teaches children and helps them to live out their vocation requires a body of people with different gifts. We bless you now as you begin your vocation of helping children. Let us pray, "Lord God, we ask your blessings on these women and men who serve you in so many different ways. We pray that you would give them patience, wisdom, and a sense of humor. Use them to show children your love and to guide children as they grow in the body of Christ. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Have everyone stand: We all are called to support, encourage, and pray for the children who are members of the fellowship we all share with Christ Jesus. We are all called to be teachers and learners with children; we are to teach them about God's love, and also to learn from what children have to teach us. We bless you now as your support these children. Let us pray. "Lord God, bless all the people you have gathered here today. Especially bless them as they support, protect, and encourage the children among us. May they, with the children, be both teachers and learners. In Christ's name we pray. Amen."


In this world of instant messaging, may our children
and young people find your word to be a blessing
in every moment of their lives.

In this world of chatrooms, may our young people
and children see you in every one they meet on
FaceBook, MySpace, and YouTube.

In this world in which cultures meet every day in
neighborhoods, at Starbucks, in classrooms,
may our children and young people open their
eyes, their ears, their hearts to those differences
which can enrich their lives.

In this world which calls you by many names, may
our young people and children discover ways
to talk about you which affirms and values the
faith of every person around them.

In this world bombarded with videos, iTunes,
and cranked up audio systems in cars, may
our children and young people find that silence
each day where they might hear your still, small
voice of hope, joy, and grace.

In this world - in their world, O God, may our
young people and children always find you!


Thom M. Shuman

Friday, August 20, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: De/Re/CLutter?

as posted by Jan
Since posting about decluttering, I am still muttering about the need for it in my house. How about you?

1. What things do you like to hang on to?

Books, things that remind me of other people, and, generally, a lot of other nearly useless things

2. What is hard to let go of?

It's not the letting go that is hard for me. It's setting aside the time to actually do it. So, it usually happens when we move. One of the valuable questions for me is: "Do I really want to move this again?" So, other than a few sentimental items, the only things that are actually hard for me to release are books. But reselling them at a local used bookstore has helped ease that pain considerably!

3. What is easy to give away?

Clothes, as in, the girls clothes as they have grown. We don't currently have anyone to whom to pass them "down" so we put them in a collection bin ... because it is easy.

4. Is there any kind of stumbling block connected with cleaning out?

Time and energy are the two things most likely to stop the cleaning out. There is a certain threshold for my desk as home that when reached must be addressed. But cleaning the garage or attic will probably wait until we move again.

5. What do you like to collect, hoard, or admire?

I suppose the Peanuts especially Snoopy and Charlie Brown (and books ... did I mention books yet?).

Bonus: Tell us about recycling or whatever you can think of that goes along with this muttering about cluttering.

When we moved into this parsonage, there were items in the garage that were either abandoned by previous clergy or "leftover" parsonage furniture including two four-drawer filing cabinets. Late last night, long after the sun had gone down, I used the available child labor to move one of those cabinets to my church office because the "threshold of clutter doom" has been long crossed by the paperwork on my desk at the office. However, not having a filing cabinet has served me well in not addressing that paper disaster. But I can't stand it anymore. So, the needed storage space for those piles of paperwork is now in the appropriate place to be used instead of being an under performing waste of space in the garage. ::sigh:: Sometime soon, I'll begin moving paper from desk to drawer in the filing cabinet or to recycle bin and the desk can begin to function as a desk again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer Friday Five

As posted by SingingOwl

Here in the snow belt state of Wisconsin we long for the first signs of spring--perhaps a crocus poking up through the snow, or a pussy willow bud popping out even beneath ice. The first appearance of robins, that most cheery little hopper of birds, causes widespread rejoicing. Spring is followed by summer, a time for home-grown tomatoes, watermelon, corn on the cob, all sorts of "fests," back yard "fry outs" (what they call a barbecue here, for some reason) and trips near and far.

I love summer, and wait anxiously for it every year. So how is it that we have arrived at the hot and humid "Dog Days" of August, and I have not done nearly enough of what I planned to do? I want to pack in as much as I can before snow flies once again.

How about you? And what is happening for those of you who are in a different hemisphere than I, and it may be cold?

1. What is the weather like where you live?

HOT! We're on a streak of 100+ temperature days.

2. Share one thing you love about this time of year.

Air conditioning and a little slower pace for church stuff.

3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year.

Everyone else being on vacation and not coming to church.

4. How will you spend the remaining days leading up to Autumn?

The "back-to-school" practices for band are in full swing for both kids and registration for school is completed. So, we're squeezing in as much fun as we can as we prepare for the beginning of school.

5. Share a good summer memory.

I spent as much time as possible in the summer at my grandparent's farm. Grandpa always went to the State Fair and I loved going with him. My first ever Big Mac was consumed at the McD's across the street from the State Fair and no one thought I could eat the whole thing because I was a scrawny little kid. It turned into a family story. They talked about me eating that Big Mac forever

Bonus: What food says SUMMER to you?

Watermelon ........ mmmmmm

Thursday, August 05, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five on Thursday

Friday Five: Love the One You're With

This Friday Five will post while I'm at the beach which for me is more than a vacation destination, it is a trip home. I have found it quite easy to wax nostalgic about the places I used to live (well, except for one) and have begun to wonder what it is I like about the place I'm living now? For instance I sure do love the beach, but this picture was taken about 30 minutes away from my house - not too shabby!
And so I ask you to please name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like.

You may have noticed I'm late playing. When I saw this come up, I thought "oh I'll play that in a little bit." Yeah, well, I guess it's now been a "little bit."

But I also am playing because I want someone to come visit my site. When I changed the template, I forgot to add the sitemeter. ::sigh:: I don't look at those stats often but I do look at them. I particularly liked being able to see from where and to where folks came and went. I'm not sure if the code is working and the only way I can check that is with visits. I have found the easiest way to increase visits is to actually post something.

I have to say that I have now lived here longer than I have lived any where since graduating from high school. Good thing I love it here!

1. In the middle of the city where almost anything is available. Having lived in towns with only a glorified convenience store or only one grocery store, I deeply appreciate having multiple options.

2. Food diversity! While I don't always take advantage of the varieties of cuisine available, I appreciate the fact that I can.

3. When something needs to be repaired, either by church folks or professionals, the response time is fairly quick. In other parsonages, in other locations, not so much.

4. Appreciation for fine arts in our schools. We are in a district that has a fabulous reputation for fine arts and both of my kids have benefited from the depth and richness of it.

5. This is the largest house in which I have ever lived. It has its quirks but it has a great "feel."

One thing I don't like: it is really hard to see the stars.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Somebody's Prayin'

I first heard this song at a TRUTH concert. The soloist was a fabulous young woman.

For almost two months, I have heard her voice singing this song. I couldn't remember all the words until I found it via Google. What I have heard over and over is: "Somebody's praying I can feel it. Somebody's praying for me." And then, I could hear the notes but not the words for the rest.

I distinctly remember when I heard it the first time this haunting way she sang it so that it was so clear that she felt alone and, yet, at the very same time had the deep conviction that she was not alone because she could feel someone praying for her.

Somebody's praying, I can feel it. Somebody's praying for me.

Monday, July 19, 2010


As with many things, an update there necessitates an upgrade here.

For reasons stated on RevGalBlogPals, there is a change related to the ring.

That is perfectly fine with me. It really doesn't matter much to me.

However, when I went to make the "simple" change on my blog. I discovered that I needed to upgrade the template.

It's not hard. not at all.

One might even make a straightforward and quite convincing argument that since this is digital media the template should have changed sooner.

So, while it was not sooner, the template has changed.

What has not changed is the deep and profound blessings that come from relationships that began from a webring and pseudonyms.

Happy Birthday RevGalBlogPals!

Philippians 1:3-6 "
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ."

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Five: Forgetful Jones Edition

Friday Five: Forgetful Jones Edition as posted by Songbird on RevGalBlogPals

No, it wasn't my turn to do the Friday Five, but it was my job to confirm the new person whose job it is, so herewith, the Forgetful Jones Friday Five, complete with Sesame Street video for those who like such things.

a) What's the last thing you forgot?

I can't remember. Really, yesterday, I had Skittles to give to some great high schoolers and forgot to get them out of the box sitting right there. But today they will get frozen popsicles and, if I remember, Skittles, too.

e) How do you keep track of appointments?

Outlook on my smartphone and computer. Before electronics, Daytimer. Everything on one calendar, every "kid" event, every "church" event, every "me" event, everything!

i) Do you keep a running grocery list?

Yes, most of the time. However, it is usually on the counter while I am at the store because I forgot to bring the list. If I'm lucky, there's a kid at home that can look at the list.

o) When forced to improvise by circumstances, do you enjoy it or panic?

I am pretty good at improv and assessing the resources available to address the need of the moment, depending on the situation, so I don't panic often.

u) What's a memory you hope you will never forget?

*A* memory!?!?! I'll make this a bonus answer! Here are some highlights: presiding over communion in international waters, in a Choctaw church, at church camp with 3rd & 4th graders, during Mission Trips with jr high & high schoolers; watching my children live their faith in ordinary and extraordinary ways; connecting with others God put in my path in ways that brought joy and wholeness (that includes a particular geocache in Mexico)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Parrot stewardship

Suzi Orman is a financial guru. She regularly tells people how to have more money. One of the things that fascinates me about Suzi Orman is that she tells people, “You must give away a significant amount of your money to someone else. Someone who is not related to you. Someone for whom you are not obligated to care.”

She tells this story to illustrate her point. In Mexico in the Mercado, she saw a man who was selling parrots. All of the parrots were perched with no cages, yet the parrots were not flying away. Suzi talked to the man to find out how he could keep the birds from flying away. He told her that he trained them to believe that if they let go of the perch they would die. Suzi says, “And that’s how we are about our money. We clutch it so tightly that we believe that if we let go of it we will die. However, what we need to realize is that it is only when we open our hands to give away what we hold so dear that our hand is open to receive the gifts that can come to us. We cannot receive anything with closed fists. Only open hands can give and receive.”

I find it fascinating that a completely secular financial guru gives advice that has such a profoundly religious basis. When we focus on hanging onto our stuff, we make our stuff our God. When we listen deeply and intently for God’s voice regarding the use of the stuff, we discover that God provides.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I realize that, like many, I have invested much more time in twitter and facebook than in this blog. While I don't always appreciate the constriction of 140 characters, I have become fairly adept at expressing myself within the constriction. The "payoff" is a more immediate response and high interactivity. Those are huge dividends for this extrovert. All that is to say, while I highly value those venues, I don't want to let go of this one. So, to the one reader who checks regularly, here is a post. And when I go months without posting, remember that this blog may be dormant but it has not been abandoned completely.
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