Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dear world

Dear world,

I know you have e-mailed, called, and otherwise tried to communicate with me for the past few days. I want to tell you, world, that I am sorry I have been out of touch, but life has been busy. Namely, school has been busy. But once I have finished my midterm and my journal for class, I will write back, call back, and make myself more available to you.



NEJ Great Leadership Event: Worship Thoughts

(Aside: this was intended to be posted on Saturday, but Blogger was being rather frustrating that day, and so I was unable to post it. So....imagine me on Saturday writing this as opposed to me on Tuesday).

Right. So I was a bit naive in thinking that I would actually have the time to do any serious blogging this week. One supervised ministry journal, one systematic paper, reading galore, 3/5 of a systematic midterm, a children's sermon, and a letter later, I'm spent for the week. My brain is jelly, and I'm looking forward to some mindless Neverwinter Nights gameplay.

Unfortunately, because I was so busy, I wasn't able to enjoy the Tipple-Vosburg lectures at Drew. For those of you who don't know, T-V is a huge lecture series with many distinguished speakers that's tied in with alumni reunions. They played around with chapel time a bit (which I was a bit miffed about, sure, sure, move chapel on Wednesday so it's during class so you can have someone give an academic lecture during normally scheudled chapel time...) and moved it on Thursday to the Baldwin Gym to accomodate both Drewids and those there for the T-V. Worship was...nice, nothing spectacular. Singing in the seminary choir was the best thing about it, for me.

Worship in the UMC tradition, I find, is consistently sub-par. I find that individual churches tend to do better with worship than bigger conferences do (although, I've visited more than a few churches that have terrible worship). Worship at the NEJ Great Leadership event borderlined disastrous for me at one point. On Friday evening, Zan Holmes preached this inspiring sermon and had the energy level up in that convention hall so high, I felt like the congregation could spontaneously burst forth into song at any moment. Instead of some rousing hymn, this sermon was followed by a responsive reading that would have been better placed elsewhere in the service, by a woman who told us to be enthusiastic in our reading. It felt like a helium balloon had just punctured. We then sang an odd, but up-beat arrangement of Standing on the Promises that I liked, but it just didn’t fit the overall character of the service. We then ended with a beautifully haunting and mysterious sung communion liturgy that was set in a minor key. But…it shouldn’t have been placed after Zan Holmes preaching!

Saturday morning’s service was a bit better constructed, although time constraints but a limit on how much we could do, I’m sure. Some songs that we sung I felt were cut short…and Jikelele (an African song that’s really laid-back and swingerish) together in a service with Montana (lyrics here, it’s an up-beat, dance-like song) didn’t fit for me.

I really feel like worship leaders in our conferences need some training when it comes to the overall energy of a worship service and how to manipulate that energy. They tend to be good when carrying an image through the entire service, but not so good about making the worship tie in together. For me, it’s far more satisfying to have a worship service that is consistent in its energy movement than one that is thematic but jumps from high to low. I don’t presume to be an expert in worship leadership by any means, but I’m speaking as one who enjoys a well put-together worship service.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cookie Calorie Counting

Conversation had at community lunch by the cookies:

Me: Mmm...cookies...
Chapel Director to Me: If you eat the ones with the cranberries in them, they're zero calories because it's fruit.
Me to Chapel Director: And because they're broken, and all the calories have fallen out.
Professor with a grin on her face: If you tell a lie, and then succeed to get someone else to participate in the lie, then...it ceases to become a lie.
Chapel Director: Yeah, then it becomes tradition!

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm here!

I've had a lot of thoughts lately that merit blogging about (for both here and the livejournal), but I haven't had sufficient space (time and otherwise) to actually spill out anything from my brain, through my fingers, and onto the computer screen. Therefore, I'll just give the highlights (and perhaps some previous for upcoming posts):

  • Being home for part of fall break and Why I Love New England
  • Northeast Jurisdiction's Great Leadership Event Conference in Valley Forge, PA on Friday and Saturday (and why conference worship in the UMC is generally sub-par, and why the church still doesn't quite get it when it comes to young adults)
  • Musing about altar flowers
  • ...and other things that I am thinking about but don't quite know how to articulate.
So: suffice it to say that I am alive and well, though oh-so busy, and I will hopefully have a post or two by the end of the week.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Processed God

In class conversation (over AIM, and we're both invisible and so not talking to anyone else): We're talking a bit about Process Theology...and this is my understanding of the God that Process Theology creates.

Melissa: you can come to the God as "friend" conclusion w/o having a processed God
Ben: I agree
Melissa: I like that expression
Melissa: "Processed God"
Melissa: Like...processed cheese
Melissa: or meat
Ben: processed
Ben: and therefore palatable and edible for human consumption

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Poem to share - the Trinity

This poem is at the beginning of a chapter in She Who Is by Elizabeth Johnson on the triune nature of God. It captured my attention, so I thought I would share it all with you. It's by Brian Wren.

Who is She, neither male nor female, maker of all things,
only glimpsed or hinted, source of life and gender?
She is God,
mother, sister, lover: in her love we wake, move, grow,
are daunted, triumph and surrender.

Who is She, mothering her people, teaching them to walk,
lifting weary toddlers, bending down to feed them?
She is Love,
crying in a stable, teaching from a boat,
friendly with the lepers, bound for crucifixion.

Who is She, sparkle in the rapids, coolness of the well,
living power of Jesus flowing from the Scriptures?
She is Life,
water, wind and laughter, calm, yet never still,
swiftly moving Spirit, singing in the changes.
Brian Wren

Typing it out makes me love it all the more!

Out for a walk

Ben and I went for a walk to the public library yesterday, since it was our Sabbath and a gorgeous day outside. It really isn't too bad of a walk - about 20 - 25 minutes each way.

On our way back, arms laden with books on tape for our respective rides home later this week, we crossed paths with an elderly gentleman walking a baby in a stroller. We slowed down to say "good morning" and ended up standing there, chatting with him for a good 10 minutes. He was walking his granddaughter who was named after him. He talked about what a blessing it was to have his four children all in the area, and about how wonderful it was he could help out his daughter by watching her kids so she could work. He told us stories about his son, thought it was wonderful that we were both in Theological School, and talked about how his nephew is doing a residency program at a hospital in Maine.

It was a great conversation, and he seemed like a wonderful person - very aware of his blessings. I didn't know that this sort of thing happened in New Jersey (not the wonderful person part, but someone actually stopping and talking to you when you are out on a walk). In any case, this small encounter reminded me that counting your blessings really can make a positive difference in your outlook.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The saga continues...

"Oh shoot!"

The inane drivel of Chris Tomlin's Indescribable floated in the background.* I caught the line "Creation's revealing Your majesty...", and normally I might stop and use that as a springboard to contemplate the magnificent clouds that flooded the sky as I drove west on Scary New Jersey Highway II. However, on this Sunday morning, the said magnificent clouds signaled the possibility of rain (my meterology phase in 4th grade paid off), and one Big Angry Cloud dominated the better part of the western horizon.

On any other occasion, I would have been glad for the rain. It meant that I could curl up in my room with my schoolwork, a cup of tea, the Fiance, and watch the Patriots win against the Bengals. I had been looking forward to such an evening, in fact. The complication? The car.

Gas is cheap in the town where I serve, so before my trip home next week, I thought I would fill up (for $2.31...though Fiance got it for $2.15...and here they scam us at $2.51). The gas attendant walked up to the passenger side of the car (which I found odd...though it's the side closest to the pump). I rolled down the window, got my gas, signed for credit card, and my window wouldn't roll up. The window motor made some awful crunching noises, but the window refused to move. I had to drive the Long Drive back with my window down.

First of all, I hate driving on the highway with the window down. You get that awful beating noise caused by the air rushing by the car. Secondly, you can understand now why the possibility of rain left me in a state of despair. (For those who don't know, I've had previous experience with this car, the windows, and rain). Hence my reaction to the threatening clouds in the sky.


I managed to get back without incident, taped up my window with a garbage bag and masking tape, and I'm looking forward to a mostly clear evening. That's the upside. The downside? Always having to deal with my car on my Sabbath. Why, oh why dear God can't I have a day of peace??? All I want is one day off...please?

*I apologize if anyone really enjoys that song...I actually think it's one of his better songs, but to be honest, I think a lot of his stuff sounds the same, is pretty boring, and not very lyrically creative.