Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I'm Grateful for this Thanksgiving--2010

The way the sun comes over the mountain outside my bedroom window on sunny mornings

Clean bed sheets

Reunions with old friends

The calm that follows the storm

Those who stand up and speak out for justice

A perfectly ripe strawberry

The waiter at the Thai restaurant in Berkeley who always remembers my favorite dish, even though I only go there about once every two months


The smell of jasmine flowers



Feet that can take me wherever I want to go

Public libraries


My family's ability to laugh at themselves, and each other


Seeing people make room for other people

"It Gets Better"

A warm shower on a cold morning

A hike in the mountains

Sharing a meal with loved ones

Singing in a choir

Monday, November 15, 2010

So You Want to Go to Seminary?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when watching this video...there are parts of it that ring so true it hurts. Yet, it is also good to laugh at the truths found here.

While I didn't learn how to ice fish in my first appointment after seminary, I did learn how to hay and the reason why one really does "make hay while the sun shines."  I, along with all the women in my ordination class, served in churches on the periphery of our annual conference. We prepared for ministry in places like Berkeley and New York City, but we were appointed to the outlying, rural communities of our otherwise urban conference.

So much of what we learned in seminary was light years away from what the folks in the pew knew (or wanted to know). Looking back at my early years of ministry, I realize that seminary needed to do a better job of teaching us to be translators--it was difficult to take what we learned in seminary (feminist/liberation/queer/post-colonial theology) and utilize it in an effective way in the parish.

I loved what I learned in seminary, I really did. The worlds and words that seminary introduced me to remain central in my theology and sustain me spiritually to this day.  But there is a curious disconnect between seminary education and ministry.  I will never forget being invited to lecture to a seminary class about parish ministry and having the professor interrupt me and tell the class, "I could never be a parish minister. I really don't care what color the drapes are in the church."

What a curious vocation we are called to! I don't care what color the drapes are either, but I do care about how God's people talk to each other about what color the drapes are.  I care about the ways children can discover they are precious in God's sight. I care about how social systems too often crush the spirit of God's people. I care about how worship can help us see the reflection of God within us more clearly or can distort it and make us even doubt it. 

Seminary set me off on a vocational course I couldn't even imagine. Many still scratch their heads and wonder what in God's name we (especially we women) do there. For me and for many, seminary was the first step of a great adventure in loving God and caring for God's people that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Clean, Safe, and Reliable"

My ministry at Glide entails a lot of travel beyond the Bay Area. While my favorite airline is United, I have recently grown a little nervous about the airline.  It is not because the airline has merged with Continental but because of the messaging from the CEO of the now merged companies, Jeff Smisek. Mr. Smisek has tried to reassure costumers that the quality of air travel will remain the same during the transition, stating that the company will continue to provide "clean, safe, and reliable air transportation."

Maybe it's just me, but when I hear "clean, safe, and reliable" I hear a hierarchy of values, #1 being "clean", #2 being "safe", and #3 being "reliable". This makes me nervous as I listen to Mr. Smisek's pre-take off message on the plane.  As the plane is taking off, in mid-air, and landing, I confess that the cleanliness of the plane is not foremost on my mind. Safety?  Oh yes!!!! Reliable? It really helps when making connections! But clean? While I like a plane that is free of debris as much as anyone, an empty peanuts bag in the chair pocket isn't going to make or break my decision to fly United ever again.

But a less than safe flight? Well, that's another story.