Author Archives: Teressa

Musing: Sing

“O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” – Psalm 95:1 NRSV

One of the best parts of leading worship last Sunday was being in a congregation that knows how to sing!  It was a small group (just eleven not counting the guest pianist, her family, my husband and me), but they knew how to make beautiful, joyful noise.

“O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.”  – Psalm 96:1 NRSV

This week I provide Pulpit Supply (lead worship and preach) in another small congregation.  Having been there before I know they have amazing instrumental musicians and solid singers among their membership.  It’s too bad their numbers have dwindled and the choir has been disbanded.  But we’ll still make joyful music!

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Kitchen Table as Makeshift Desk.  Photo: TLClark, 7/15/19.

On an entirely different note (pun not intended but noticed), here’s part of a paragraph from the book I’m currently reading.

“This is our role: To weave together those disparate energies.  To manipulate and mitigate and, through the prism of our awareness, produce a singular force that cannot be denied.  To make of cacophony, symphony. …”

– N. K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky (Series: The Broken Earth, Book Three), http://www.orbitbooks.net, 2017.

Our role:  “to make of cacophony, symphony.”  Such a rich image!  Especially since Jemisin is not writing about musicians.

Whatever the cacophony of your life, may you discover a joyful noise, a song, a symphony.  May you sing.

 

Photo Challenge: Wall

“Wall” is the word for the weekly Tuesday photo challenge.  This wall is next door to the coffee shop where I gather with quilting friends once a month.

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Walnut Street Gallery Outside Wall (looking west on 3rd Street).  Photo: TLClark, 7/13/19.

Walnut Street Gallery, a framing shop and art gallery in uptown Ankeny, uses parts of painted picture frames to create seasonal scenes on their outside walls.  I remember a Christmas tree in December and a large heart in February.  July (or is it all summer?) is flowers and a flag.

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Flowers, Walnut Street Gallery.  Photo: TLClark, 7/13/19.

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Closer look at the red flower.  Photo: TLClark, 7/13/19.

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American Flag on outside of Walnut Street Gallery.  Photo: TLClark, 7/13/19.

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Flag and Bench.  Photo: TLClark, 7/13/19.

For more “wall” pictures, visit Dutch Goes the Photo!

Musing: Cross

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  – 1 Corinthians 1:18 NRSV

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Stained Glass Cross.  St. John UCC, Melbourne, Iowa.  Photo: TLClark, 7/7/19.

Crosses and stained glass windows are not unusual in a church.  But I can’t remember seeing another cross-shaped stained glass window.  Which is why I shared the photo on Facebook with a note of gratitude for being warmly welcomed last Sunday by the congregation where I provided Pulpit Supply.

It’s not a great picture but many of my Facebook friends responded to the photo with a “like” or a “love” or a “wow.”

The reaction to the picture has caused me to pause.  My Facebook friends who follow Jesus represent a broad spectrum* of Christianity.  We do not all agree on how to faithfully respond to the challenges in the world today.  We don’t even all agree on what some of those challenges are.  But we all claim the cross as a symbol of our faith.

President Lincoln’s words came to mind:

“Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. … The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.”

– Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

Staying friends on Facebook with those with whom we disagree is hard.  It’s tempting to ‘unfriend’ them.  But many are part of my extended family.  And seeing some of their posts is helpful – if for no other reason than to remember there are well-meaning people who understand the world differently than I do.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

– Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

 


*United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Evangelical Free, United Methodist, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Quaker, Pentecostal, Nondenominational, and who knows what else.   There are, I’m sure, a few who no longer darken the doorway of any church.

Substitute Pastor

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“Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2 CEB

Pastor S called late Tuesday afternoon.  “My son’s been in a bad motorcycle accident.  Can you cover for me this Sunday?”

Yes.  Of course.  I’m available.  And that’s what I do: lead worship and preach when one of my colleagues will be away.  We call it pulpit supply in the United Church of Christ.

“Oh,” one of my husband’s relatives said once she understood what I do, “you’re a substitute pastor!”   I’ve been called worse.

Pastor J called Wednesday morning.  “Is there any chance you could do some pulpit supply?”  She was asking for a congregation down the road.  They and their (now former) pastor have had a parting of ways.

Yes.  Of course.  Just not this Sunday or the 21st because I’m already committed.  But that’s also what I do:  step in as a stable presence to lead worship and preach, to love the people through an unexpected difficult time, to remind them they are not forgotten by God.

When colleagues are headed for a conference or taking a vacation, they ask early.  When there’s a family emergency, they call as soon as they realize they may need to be gone on Sunday.   When a church and a pastor have parted ways, Pastor J or someone in her position will call.

So today I’m looking at a bulletin that was handed to me, writing prayers, thinking of a children’s message, and trying to figure out where Pastor S might have been going with the sermon.  I’ve pretty much decided to ignore her sermon title.  But we won’t know the details until Sunday morning.

If you’re looking for a substitute pastor, I may or may not be available the 14th and 28th.  But I should know by Monday.

Blessings,
Pastor Teressa

Photo Challenges: Outdoors & Flower of the Day

Outdoors is the Jansen Photo Challenge this week and I couldn’t resist a second post.  And since it’s three flowers, it also works for Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge.

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Photo: TLClark, July 3, 2015, Pilgrim Heights Camp & Retreat Center, Iowa.

Outdoors - Flower - White

Photo: TLClark, July 3, 2015, Pilgrim Heights Camp & Retreat Center, Iowa.

Outdoors - Flower - Blue

Photo: TLClark, June 9, 2012, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Iowa.

Photo Challenge: Outdoors

When I read outdoors was the Jansen Photo Challenge this week, I thought of grand, panoramic vistas and the delicate details of wildflowers.  But in the back of my head I heard Mom’s voice, “Go play outside.”   My childhood home had a swing set in the backyard and an entire school playground across the street.  With camera in hand, I headed to a local playground this morning.

The simple, straight lines of the monkey bars of yesteryear have been replaced with a curved span of triangles.

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Monkey Bars.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

The long metal slides of my childhood are long gone.  Tubes and curly-queues are more the norm today.

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Slides.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

The merry-go-rounds of my youth were definitely not this safe!  Nor did they need dad to make them go round.  We’d all push, running as fast we could before jumping on.  (Thanks to this dad and son for allowing my to take a few pictures.)

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Round and Round We Go.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

Of all the playground equipment, swing sets have changed the least over the years.

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Receding Swings.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

It’s no longer hard ground or gravel below the swings; spongy mats making falling off a bit less painful.

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Single File Swings.  Photo: TLClark, 7/4/19.

As far as I could see, there are no teeter-totters on this playground.  Have they disappeared completely?

Hoping you get to go outdoors today!