Preaching on Prayer

I delivered my last sermon at my internship last week, and I decided to preach on prayer. If you are interested in reading it, my sermon can be found here.

Also…. this Sunday was my last day, and of course CHPC did their tradition goodbye thing (I was there last year to see them do this for my friend Gusti). They gave me a card, and a journal, and some money, which was totally unexpected. I didn’t quite know how to respond to the cash… it felt strange to receive it. The cool thing that Karl did was he gave me this beautiful wooden cross (made by an artist named Woody) that they sell in the bookstore at Andover Newton. Its called a blessing cross and it looks like this:

Blessing Cross by \

Last and best of all, Craig and D both got super awesome local donuts from “Donuts with a Difference” and “Verna’s” for coffee hour….. they were amazing! (I have built up a reputation as the donut girl at church…. they made a cake out of donuts for me for my birthday!)

Anyways, it was a fun day and I will miss being part of making worship there, but I am looking forward to the break….after these finals, i can breathe!

2 weeks left.

This morning is my last sermon at Clarendon Hill, and it feels weird.  It feels weird to realize that the year is almost over, that my middle year at seminary is drawing to a close, and that I feel less prepared for ministry than ever.  This year has taught me so much, but especially has taught me that ministry is a fraking mess most of the time, and that most people have NO CLUE what they are doing, and that I have NO CLUE what I am doing, but that people still look at me like I do because I am the “seminarian.”  Ha, if only they knew.

If only they knew that there are less than 2 weeks between me and the last due date for my finals, and that I am freakin’ out a bit because I don’t know if I can get-er-done..  Granted, I only have to write 40-ish pages, and granted that is not nearly as bad as some of my friends, but it still feels like a lot to knock off before next Thursday.  And you could ask me why I am not working on it now, but the truth is this– I don’t know what to say.

I have been wrestling with some serious mental roadblocks lately, mostly because I realize that there is so much I could be saying and so much I want to think about, but I feel as though I don’t have enough information to do it.  I feel like I should read more, but the more I read the less confident I feel about what I want to say.  I am seriously all over the place.  And as I have come to recognize, this is not a good sign.

So prayers would be nice this week.  Prayers would be good.  Prayers for sanity and for inspiration.  Hopefully, that and a little coffee will get me through the insanity that is finals, so that I can take a quick breath and start all over again.

Sunday, holy Sunday

Another Sunday, another Clarendon Hill service.  This morning I had my voice back, so I was given the privilege of running the service (with the exception of the sermon itself), being as I was out of commission last week with Laryngitis.

The Topic:  Names for God.

My Job: to Pray on behalf of the community and to make it sound nice.

So I have basically figured out during the course of my internship that I have issues with extemporaneous anything… I just sorta need to have something in front of me in order to feel confident– perhaps its a panacea or placebo effect or whatever, but even have a bunch of nonsensical scribbles on a sheet of paper  is better than nothing.  Without it, I feel lost, nervous, and unprepared.

So I went with my instincts and wrote some notes today based upon the sermon… which worked out great.  Karl preached a bit on the names we call God and why the act of naming is important.  Basically it came down to this: the act of naming God is a dynamically and essential practice in which we recognize the divine in our lives and then honor it.  You can’t name God, says Karl, until you have the experience of God.  I liked that.  And I think that the reason that I liked it so much was because so many times I hear people railing against ‘inclusive language’ and what they fail to see often is that it isn’t so much a rejection of old language but rather an acknowledgment that God is more expansive than the language we used to use, that the only way to express what God is to us is to find a new name, a new way of defining what we have already experienced.  Of course, I also think that it is possible to redefine the terms, and that the old names still have value.  But i think that this perspective was important to me because  it provided a new way of thinking about the value and importance of keeping language and our worship in conversation with our lives.

So anyways, I think today at church went well.  I was able to give some pretty cool prayers, especially the prayer of assurance, which went something like this:

“There is good news, my friends, and it is this– the story doesn’t end here.  For when we are feeling our most low, our most sad and alone in the world, a loving God, our God, the one of many names–God of the high places, our Rock, our protector, the Sustainer and eternal parent–that God comes to us and whispers in our ear, saying “I love you.  You are MINE.  When you are feeling your most alone, I am by your side, holding your burdens as though they were my own and loving you through it all.   Your sins I have taken from you in the radical redeeming act of Jesus Christ.  Your sins are forgiven, child.”  Hallelujah, Amen.”

And then the Prayer of Christ, which began something like this:

“Gracious and merciful God, we come to you today, praying to you with many names from many places.  Redeemer, Sustainer, Provider, Awesome One, The Great I AM, Creator, Abba, God.  You have so many names, O God, that we cannot begin to know their limit.  We therefore call to you in old names and new, seeking to find you as we pray together in this community.  Whatever the name, O God, we pray to you from the deepest parts of ourselves.  For today are hearts are full–with blessings and thankfulness for the ways in which you have touched our lives, but also with the wounded aching of a heart brought low with loss, of deep grief and sadness over the places in our lives that need your providing and sustaining presence most….. Your names reveal our thankfulness as well as our sadness, and we cry out to you with one voice–God of the Mountain!  You are so high and wonderful, but sometimes seem so far from us! …. Help us to find a vocabulary of belonging in you, O God, that we might find a home that is rooted in you, our hope and our loving Friend.”

In other news– the congregation provided me with a “Entemann’s Devil’s Food Cake Donut Cake” courtesy of Katherine and Sarah.  It was most excellent 😉

Adult Ed also went well, we finished up our discussion of the Pullman Trilogy and then decided to talk about the historical Jesus next time around.  I think that shall be interesting!

And finally…. Alex walked me home 🙂  He’s sweet.

Here is a picture of  Clarendon Hill Pres…..:
Clarendon Hill