Is That You, Jesus?

Why do so many Christians resist welcoming the Syrian refugees? I am baffled by this. Embracing the stranger is an essential Christian teaching. You might say that hospitality is in the Christian DNA. (A few supporting texts: here and here and here.)

I am a Protestant who has learned to appreciate her sisters and brothers who practice the contemplative Catholic traditions. I have often experienced Benedictine hospitality. According to the Rule of St. Benedict, all guests are to be received like Christ.

Hospitality is not a naive “feel-good” enterprise. Hospitality demands something of us. To begin, we must manage our fear of the stranger. As someone who has been harmed by strangers in my past, I have had to work at developing a hospitable heart.

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Final Words

About two months ago we celebrated my father’s 90th birthday. When I arrived at my parents’ home the night before the event, my mom handed me a typed page that said at the top: “Dad’s Final Words.” It was rather startling. I wondered if I had missed some family news!

What the page contained were Dad’s remarks for his birthday celebration the next day, which he intended to be the “final words” of the event. He asked me to edit them, which I was happy to do. Before I began, I asked him his goals in the remarks, and he quickly listed three of them: 1) to express thanks and gratitude to everyone in attendance; 2) to make a Christian testimony, especially as he experiences cancer which has spread to the bone; 3) to express a lighthearted tone. Knowing his intentions, I was able to help him tighten words here, and add words there. The end result pleased both him and my mother.

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Cross + Heart: Things to Hold On To

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Advent is coming . . . .

Clergy know what Thanksgiving truly means — that Advent is upon us!

Over at RevGalBlogPals, the Matriarchs have rounded-up some favorite resources and tips appropriate to the Advent/Christmas season. I weighed in with a few of my own. I also added an Advent/Christmas category to my sidebar, in case any of those posts are helpful this season.

And if you’re a clergywoman and don’t know about RevGalsBlogPals, I invite you to find out more and join us! You are not alone. We have a website, blogring, closed Facebook group, and even a book!

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“Our Journey Together”

The tagline for Church Women United is “A racially culturally theologically inclusive ecumenical women’s movement.”

Church Women United sponsors three gatherings each year. The first Friday of November is “World Community Day.” Today I spoke for the CWU gathering in Frederick, MD. There were more than 35 women in attendance, representing at least a dozen churches. The topic was “Our Journey Together” and the scripture was Isaiah 2:1-4, a vision of peace. What a joy to be part of this inspiring group!

Church Women United, Frederick County, MD

Church Women United, Frederick County, MD

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Haiku: Polarization

Last October I posted a Fall Haiku, the fall tree with a Stop sign. That was fun, so let’s try it again.

On Saturday I visited a friend at her cabin in the Poconos. The trees seemed especially gorgeous! Then I realized that my polarizing sunglasses made a world of difference. Check it out (I took the picture through my sunglass lens as I am normally #nofilter):


Poconos Ordinary

Poconos Polarized

Poconos Polarized










Are you pro-polarization or against? Or is that a polarizing question? Either way, why not try a haiku? (no rhyme necessary, just count the syllables: 5/7/5)


How rosy the world can seem

Leave your lenses on!

Now it’s your turn.

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When Doing Good Needs Re-evaluation

Today I’m over at RevGalBlogPals as part of Ask the Matriarch.

The question posed was about handling relationships between a church governing board, the compassionate ministries of the church (food bank/VBS outreach), and the pastor (who was new to the system). If church leadership is part of your world, I invite you to click over and add your voice in the comment section.

RevGals is a great resource for clergywomen and I invite you to join us.

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A Peculiar Energy

For the last few Sundays I’ve filled the pulpit for a small church that has lost its critical mass. Attendance has dwindled to a faithful few, all of whom are running out of energy. Not a happy situation. Still, when I enter the church building, I feel a sense of welcome and warmth from the folks who are keeping the place afloat.

Faith Chapel, Lucketts VALast Sunday we had visitors, an older couple, tall and friendly-faced. They arrived early to get a seat (God bless them!). They were the first ones at church, other than myself, the organist, and the person tending the coffeepot. We chatted and I discovered that they were from out of town and just passing through. Eight more people showed up for worship, bringing us to a dozen.

Because the numbers are small, I’ve been informal. Before reading the scripture and sermon, I’ve tried a “Sharing Time” to help us engage a different part of our brain before hearing the Word. On this Sunday, our theme was Treasure. “What do you treasure?”

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Marking the Date

Ordination of Ruth Huizenga Everhart Oct 14, 1990

Ordination of Ruth Huizenga Everhart Oct 14, 1990

October 14, 2015 marks my 25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

I posted some thoughts in 2013 and in 2010.

Today I just want to mark the date.

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The Real vs. The Idyll

idyll | noun – an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque episode or scene, typically an idealized or unsustainable one.

Do you prefer the real thing? Or do you get attached to your idea of what ought to be real, in other words, the idyll?

The push and pull between these two applies to our powers of hindsight. Our memories easily become distorted. Sometimes the idyll of the past becomes an idol.

I idly considered these things as I drove home from a visit to Greenfield Village, where Henry Ford — that idol/icon of American enterprise — built his own version of reality. Ford’s idyll, set in the 1860s, occupies about 80 acres in Dearborn, Michigan, in the area where he grew up. The time-stamped setting is especially interesting/ironic because in a sense it encapsulates the era that Ford helped America leapfrog from.

Henry Ford was born in 1863 and was supposed to take over the family business of farming. But like many smart, ambitious people, he wanted something more than to follow in his father’s footsteps. Ford achieved success on an amazing scale. He did not invent the automobile, but he created The Ford Motor Company, which mass produced automobiles, specifically the Model T. By 1927, his company had produced and sold more than 15 million Model T’s. It’s hard to overstate the significance of 15 million anything in 1927. But automobiles? Automobiles revolutionized the culture and economy of America. In a very real sense, Ford helped America drive into a new era.

And then, it would appear, Ford hankered for the days he had once sprung from and been eager to leave behind. At the apex of his success — beginning in the 1920s and 30s — he began to use his vast wealth to reverse gears a bit. By purchasing historic buildings from around the country and moving them to the Dearborn area, he created a village which would be forever locked in the 1860s. You might even say that he recreated a past he never experienced (except in infancy), and which perhaps never existed.

Riding a Model-T through Greenfield Village.

Riding a Model-T through Greenfield Village.

I couldn’t help but see Greenfield Village with my pastor’s eyes and ponder the idyllic. I prize what is real, and I also prize what is potential. In fact, a pastor’s job is often to move between the two. We call it casting a vision, or doing a mission study, or transforming a congregation. What that amounts to is helping a church come to terms with its real past and move into the possibilities of the future, which are not yet real. This is more difficult than it sounds because church members — like all people — often prefer to cling to an idealized version of the past. Indulging in a past idyll can hamper the building of a future reality. We fancy that the “village” in our memory really was as homogenous, peaceful, and picture-perfect as we remember it to be. Incoming pastors often read golden-toned histories of how the church used to be. See how quaint we were!

Greenfield Village was quaint indeed. The day I was there, the fall weather was perfect and the crowds were few. How fun to wander through a village that’s like Disneyland: exactly real, and, at the same time, completely fake. There’s something about “picture-perfect” that just makes a person happy. Perhaps it pleases our aesthetic sensibilities.

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