Thursday, September 30, 2010

40 yrs of Women's Ordination

40 yrs ago, Beth Platz, serving as the chaplain at the University of Maryland, was ordained, making her the first woman ordained in a Lutheran denomination in North America. She has served generations of Lutheran students humbly and faithfully. Read more about her here.

As part of the recognition of her extraordinary ministry, the ordained women of our synod gave her a communion set that I made.

It was a great honor to make this for Pastor Platz. Pottery is such an obvious metaphor for the journey of faith that it hardly seems worth elaborating. The first thing you do as a potter is "center" the clay. Ya. The lump of raw clay is molded and tended in an artful process that takes time and is somewhat unpredictable. Even after being beautifully shaped, it's worthless and dull until it has felt the heat.

As I made this chalice, I reflected on the heat that the first women pastors had to take 40 yrs ago. Many of them are still taking it, though I'm happy to report that I've experienced very little discrimination as a woman in the ELCA. I more often feel uplifted as a woman pastor.

But still, I recall that ordained women are not the norm everywhere. Last week a teen-aged visitor came to Bible study and said something about how "cool" it was to see a woman pastor. Cool only because it wasn't, for her, normal.

I love being a pastor and I am grateful to Pastor Platz and all the women and men who helped blaze this trail.

About the chalice. I went around and around with ideas for glazing and decorating, but ultimately decided to do very little. In an interview, Pr Platz said "The pastor's 'I-ness' is to be put aside … for the total focus is on the altar and the cross." I kept the chalice simple to keep that focus.

The cross-shaped hole in the stem is a reminder of the scars that discipleship demands us to recognize. It also makes the whole thing more beautiful. Healing is not yet complete, but the celebration of Pr Platz's ordination is a sign that we're on our way.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clay Pots - adult confirmation

Image by Kirsten Malcom Berry - the Greek quotes 2 Corinthians.

A dream of mine, to lead an adult confirmation class, is coming true here at Prince of Peace.

Add the doom and gloom about our ELCA denominational numbers to the growth of evangelical churches and momma church basically knows something is wrong in how we form people in faith.

We can't count on the traditional Lutheran pipeline (baptism, Sunday School, confirmation at age 13, become a full member of the church for the rest of your life) for forming our people anymore. We probably never could. In our congregation, people come from a variety of religious backgrounds hungry to develop a relationship with God and other people of faith. One of our responses is to offer an adult confirmation program: Clay Pots.

Last night we had the 2nd session of "Clay Pots." We took the name from 2 Corinthians "for we have this treasure (knowledge of God) in clay pots." (some translations use the word "jars") It's no coincidence that I also liked the name because of its reference to pottery.

14 people are in the class. We're a mix of originally Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, and new to faith altogether. 2 people aren't members of the church. I love that.

I rooted around to find curriculum and help, but only found a couple of churches/highly talented people to help. (Rev. Jessicah Krey Duckworth at Wesley Seminary put us on to the trail of some good churches. She's amazing. Phinney Ridge Lutheran in Seattle and Village Church in Milwaukee WI also shared what they've done).

Basically, I've taken their information and crafted something I thought would work for us.

We'll have a total of 15 1.5 hr sessions plus a weekend retreat between now and the Easter Vigil, when the confirmation will take place.

Now through Advent our focus is Covenant. Christmas and Epiphany we'll focus on Christ. And during Lent we'll focus on Church. Our main texts are the Bible, the Lutheran Handbook (which, I must say is a frustrating resource. Such a good idea, but so cheesy and Minnesotan that it is culturally irrelevant to new Lutherans - but it's the best thing out there and has the Small Catechism in it) and two great little books by a man named Dan Erlander: Manna and Mercy and Water Washed and Spirit Born.

We've had two sessions and have focused mainly on the covenants God made with Abraham and Sarah and with Moses and the Israelites. Covenant sets the stage for understanding baptism, our relationship with God, Jesus as the new covenant. Seemed like a good place to start.

We're in the process of getting our session outlines on the church website so if other churches are interested in doing something similar, they can use as they'd like.

I'm convinced that this kind of opportunity is essential to growing faith - which in turn is essential in growing our churches. We're not doing this in order to grow the church, but to grow in faith. That's important. But I admit I'm excited that we already have 2 people, new to the church, interested in next year's class.

peace all -

Monday, September 6, 2010

2nd bedroom

For the last year and a half, I've had two different friends live with me. Now I am back to living alone and realizing more and more that it isn't how I like to live. Yes, there are obvious advantages - clutter control, scheduling social events, common space being all mine - but these advantages are also disadvantages. Without the inevitable conflict of living with others, I don't grow or learn nearly as much. Living with other people helped make me more human.

But the real reason I like living with people is that it's just so much more fun than living alone. My most enjoyable living arrangements have been times I lived with large groups of people. Our college household was a blast; our community house in Div School had a ton of fun.

Maybe it's because I'm the middle kid of a litter of 5 - a family that played a lot of games and really enjoyed one another - but I'm most comfortable in a heap of humanity. It's just that as an unmarried person with a career that's taken me far from family, finding a living situation that feeds that need for community is hard.

Something like 21% of households in our county are single occupancy. That's a lot of people living alone and I genuinely wonder if those people prefer it or if there are just too few other options.

I've lately been learning about and exploring other housing models, including co-housing. The housemate thing has worked out really well for a while, but this last year was so good that I'm nervous about another.

As I mull this one over, I'm on the lookout for options. In the meanwhile, I'll make up the bed in my guest bedroom because Rachel and Rob are coming - yay! and I'll take Barkely (the dog I've got on loan to keep me company) for a walk.

Ten for Ten. Ten reasons it's great to be a pastor, in celebration of my 10 year anniversary of ordination.

I'm in there somewhere. I was ordained at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington DC on November 10, 2007, ten years ago today. ...