Saturday, September 30, 2006

My First Friday Five

Ok--here's my first contribution to Friday Five, which I have truly enjoyed lurking in. (Pardon bad grammar, please!)

Tell us about any group(s) you currently belong to. (e.g. book club, knitting circle, walking buddies, etc.)

Book Club, Cinema Group and Adult Choir at St P. I love them all.

2. Do you feel energized or drained by being in a group situation? If the answer is "it depends," on what does it depend?

Most often energized. It depends on the energy of the group: if there is infighting going on and negativity, then I feel drained. (Haven't run into this at St P). At my last church, sometimes referred to by me as the Church of the Implosion, Council was notorious for its draining capacity, as was choir. I don't miss it! You can tell when the Spirit "has left the building."

3. Is there a role you naturally find yourself playing in group situations? That is, do you naturally fall into the leader role, or the one who always makes sure the new person feels welcome, or the quiet one who sits back and lets others shine, or the host?

I tend to do some comic relief. But if no one is functioning in a leadership role and the situation seems to need one in order to focus and get on with things, then I will jump in. But I do worry about being intrusive, so I tend to really sit back and wait to see.

4. Handshakes vs. hugs: discuss.

Usually handshakes. Hugs when I know the person well and/or it is a sincere gesture, rather than merely expected.

5. Ice breakers: a playful way to build community in a lighthearted manner, or a complete and utter hell of forced fun and awkwardness?Bonus: If you answered "playful and lighthearted," share your favorite ice breaker.

Boy howdy, that's a mixed bag. Like others, I don't care for the name tag pinned on the back and having to guess who I am. But on the other hand, at things like retreats, an ice breaker can be a great way to get things rolling on a casual note.

Had a marvelous conversation with Pastor M this week. After a thoughtful talk about my partner's mother's recently-diagnosed cancer (at age 87) and how Jesus walks to the cross with us and supports us, I told Pastor M how I continue to feel God tugging at my sleeve. (This tugging has been going on for over 10 years . . .) She has agreed to walk with me in my discernment process. the good thing is that this time I don't feel rushed and as anxious as I have in the past. Given that I don't seem to have resources and the job flexibility to pursue ordination as a pastor or deacon, I am prayerfully considering the ELCA's Associates in Ministry program. (And would I love to carry it out at St P, or what?) I could use my law degree and public speaking ability to minister in the areas of public policy/advocacy and worship leadership/preaching. Frankly, it would be a dream come true. I told Pastor M that, for once, I am in no hurry. Since I just got to St P, I am going to spend a year getting to know people and being known as I continue the discernment process with M. Then we'll go from there.

In the mean time, I am also starting in on a calling that I have had for a long time as well. I am starting to do research and compile documents for the book I've always wanted to write on why society scapegoats LGBT people and what can be done in Jesus' name, following his examples of radical love, compassion and inclusion. The whole outline of the book popped into my head the other morning at 4:00 a.m. (thank you, God, I wrote it down) and I am feeling very energized about taking it on.


Monday, September 25, 2006

God may be opening a window

It's strange how sometimes things plop in your lap. I have spent years--yes, years--struggling hard to discern whether or not God is calling me to the ordained ministry. I have a passion for preaching, for advocacy, for walking to the cross with others. But being in a same-sex relationship and not being able to relocate due to my partner's needs seem to be huge barriers to ordination. Also the fact that my debt structure is nothing short of ghastly (but I am working to pay those &*#$*# cards off--good spiritual discipline) and my need to be self-supporting keep me from attending seminary, including the year in practicum that the ELCA demands. Not do-able. I have grieved over doors slamming shut right and left.

Every time I feel God pestering me again, I bash my head against the mental walls until it's bloody. Nothing so far has worked. But today, searching the internet while should be working, I came across information about the ELCA's Associates in Ministry program. Looks like this possibly could work for me. I think I would be able to focus in preaching and prublic policy. Too cool. And the educational requirements don't seem onerous.

How do other pieces of the puzzle fit in? Due to the political implosion of my last congregation, I left and was blessed to have the Spirit lead me to another suburban Chicago congregation, this one expressly open and affirming. St P is a warm, embracing congregation and "Pastor M" is a dream: articulate, caring, challenging. This could be good. If anyone reads this, please pray for me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Soon to Come

Hello blogreaders--

I had just created a fairly decent first post, only to have destroyed it by pushing a wrong button somewhere. God has a sense of humor, truly. More later.