Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Break

It is spring break and we are off to the mountains of North Carolina. There is still snow or man made snow on some of the ski slopes and we may be able to ski, sled or tube. No Snow Boarding, I have already told Zach, the boy. You all have a great week. Hopefully we will come back refreshed and with no broke bones.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Can a Female Pastor's Voice be heard?

A Woman's Voice Gifted for Leadership A Community of Christian Women Leaders

At Gifted for Leadership, Suanne Camfield who is a writer, speaker and Bible study leader, writes an interesting article about "A Woman's Voice". She asks the following and then proceeds to write down her thoughts on the matter; "Is it possible to listen well despite our gender differences? And is it more difficult for a man to listen well to a woman?" What do you think? Is it possible and is it more difficult for a man to listen well to a woman? In my mind you would need to also ask is it more difficult for a woman to listen well to a man?She sees that there is a cultural influence on the congregation that makes it harder for them to listen to a woman. But I wonder what the effect of generations of the voices of Women Preachers has had to change that?

She goes on further to say: When I’ve questioned my male counterparts on the subject, a few have dismissed it as a non-issue, but several—men full of godly character and integrity—have admitted their difficulty with hearing the feminine voice. In one conversation, a pastor actually blurted out, “I mean, come on. What man can really listen to a woman?” The first thing I think when I hear that is I wondered what his wife, his daughter, him mom, or any of the other women in his life say about him? The other thing I start thinking is, has he dismissed the femine voice of God, or what some call the feminine side, the Holy Spirit.

Here are some of the reasons they gave:

Tone: They literally hear a woman’s voice differently. High-pitched, sing-songy, whiny, shrill and forced are adjectives used to describe it. Sounds like a matter of transference to me. And how many of us transfer onto male voices while listening to male preachers?

Words: The stories women share and the words we use to share them are not as universal. Women emote. Women connect. Women cry. Women feminize. Well surprise surprise, we connect, We emote, we cry, we feminize. Sounds a little like Jesus to me. Oh you mean we don't tell football and other sports stories or hunting stories that leave out half of the congregation. Sorry. However, I do try to use universal stories in my preaching. I ask myself will this connect will this fit the theme the sermon? If it doesn't I don't use it. And sorry guys, I have had several male pastors who cried in the pulpit and who emoted.

Authority: The women’s movement has devalued male leadership, leaving them to feel emasculated (a phenomenon John Eldridge and others have well documented). Men instinctually respond by shutting out the feminine voice. Huh? I'd say a lot of that happened more back in their families of origen and got blamed on the women's movement. I have at the same time known some women who emasculate men. I have tried to pay attention to how I treat men in my life. However, I will admit there was a time I hated men; but that hate didn't have anything to do with women's liberation, but more how I was treated in my family growing of up. More women and even men I know try to lift everyone up and try to let everyone's voices heard.

What makes it difficult for you to listen to a Preacher whether that preacher is a male or female or if they are a different gender? What do you do to try to overcome that difficulty so you can listen? Or do you choose to not listen or go elsewhere or leave the church? This subject seems to address the adults listeners in the congregation, what about the youth or the children? What do they hear when they listen?

I do think as a female Preacher I need to think about who all I am preaching to and try to connect with as many as possible, realizing not everyone will like what I have to say or how I say it. I don't think one can take and change how femine or masculine one's voice is, but perhaps they can take some speech lessons, voice lessons to improve their presentation of the sermon. But I also think male preachers need to be aware of their congregation also. I am not saying don't use sporting or hunting illustrations, but think about how that is going to connect and then if you are going to use it; think about how you would make sure the other half hears it or the point you are trying to illustrate. And don't leave out the youth and children, they need to hear the sermon also. I am going to think about the questions Susan Camfield has raised, and I am going to think about my preaching some more and what I need to improve on and how.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Code word:Social Justice

In March 2nd show, Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that "social justice," the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a "code word" for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice.
"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"
"Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right," said Beck. "But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner... But on each banner, read the words, here in America: 'social justice.' They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy."

Most of the world's major, monotheistic faith traditions embrace "social justice" as a fundamental pillar. Beck just encouraged a whole lot of people to abandon a whole lot of houses of worship.
This is especially true of Roman Catholics. Indeed, the very phrase "social justice" is believed to have been coined by a 19th-century Jesuit, and later popularized by Father Charles Coughlin.

Even the United Methodist has had a long history of concern for Social Justice with our Social Principles. John Wesley, our founder was someone who valued Social Justice in his time.
He once declared, “There is no holiness but social holiness!”

I think the term Social justice has become a misunderstood term that has been seen as something only the liberal believe in and do. With the Talk show hosts spouting things like this, you wonder what effect it has on people? How threatened do they now feel to leave the church, that perhaps they dearly love? How threatened do they now feel if they are someone who does care about Social issues, Justice issues? And at the same time we see young people very concerned with an involved in not just helping or missions but Social Justice.

So either we will see a bigger drop in the Methodist church membership numbers because of what Beck has said or we will see people staying and being more fervent in their work for justice.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

communciation, connecting, communion

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect is the title of John Maxwell's latest book. It is one of his leadership book in which he takes readers through the Five Connecting Principles and the Five Connecting Practices of top-notch achievers. He believes that a person's ability to create change and results in an organization - be it a company, church, nonprofit, or even a family - is directly tied to the ability to connect.

One thing I would say is this, everbody does not communicate and thus not everybody connects. So many are busy talking that they don't listen, really listen, nor do they try to connect with others. Communication involves two people or more talking and listening. I sometimes have the same problem; I will be talking or thinking of the next thing I want to say, or try to think of way I can get my point across; and then I have not listened and I have not connected with the others. It takes work to do this. Even if you are considered a "people" person or an extrovert, you may miss the person or the communication.

And don't we do this with God, we are so busy getting our laundry list across we forget to connect with God or even really communicate with God, listen to God. What would it look like if we did connect with God? What would it take on our part to do so? I know I am trying to spend at least 10 minutes three times a week being quite and listening to God. It is hard to still my mind, and be quiet for just those ten minutes. And it makes it hard to listen to God.

I wonder if in communion, there is an act of communication that takes place that connects us with God. We receive, we open ourselves to God's grace. God's Holy Spirit is called upon and at work in the bread and wine, and in us. No wonder John Wesley like to take regular communion.

Perhaps as we learn to connect with God, we learn to connect with ourselves and others as well.

Monday, March 08, 2010

International Women's Day

I didn't know it was International Women's Day until I was reading my daily devotional from Sojourner's Verse and Voice. They had an excellent post for this day and a good article by Julie Clawson. So today I celebrate all international women. I celebrate the women who have gone before me. I celebrate the women in my life. I celebrate how far women have come in their lives of how they are treated. And I pray for my sisiters in other parts of the word who don't have that fair of treatment yet. I celebrate women who are leaders. I pray for women who are silenced.
I celebrate where women feel safe and can walk about freely. I pray for the women, who do not feel safe and most of all can not walk around freely. I celebrate women who have been able to get an education, acheieve emplyment and work in the area they have a passion for. I pray for those who cannot get the education they need, have to work slave labor, menial laboor or no labor at all, and have their dreams and hopes dampened. I celebrate where women have affordable health care, and research is done on diseases affecting women. I prayer for those who have no health care, cannot afford it, and where there is little or no health care for women. I celebrate where women can worship and lead worship freely. I pray for those who cannot lead worship, much less participate in worship.

Lord I pray for all us to do our part until there is a new heaven and a new earth for all your people.

Prayer for third Sunday in Lent

This was the prayer I wrote for the third Sunday in Lent, but didn't get posted yesterday. Sorry, I got mixed up about my turn to post.

Lord ,
Here we are on this third Sunday in Lent.
Here we are hungering and thirsting for you.
Here we are overwhelmed by all that is going on in the US and in the world.
Tonight there will be those dressed to the nines receiving awards for making movies and making exorbitant amounts of money; while in other places in the world, there will be those who have little or no money, little or no clothes, little or no food, little or no shelter.
Lord forgive us, but we like to watch and see who won, and we want to know who is with who, how they are dressed and what they have to say.
At the same time, we are aware that our lives are not like theirs, nor is our lives like those who have less or nothing.
And so Lord we hunger and thirst for you in our lives so that we can live as you showed and taught us how to live.
Keep us centered and focused on you Lord, and on serving you.