Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year, New Life

As 2010 begins, so will a new chapter in my life. I've been called as the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Parkesburg, PA. In two weeks, I will move & begin my life there. My new church is fantastic - filled with warm & wonderful people, eager to see where God is leading them next. I feel very honored that they chose me to walk with them on that journey. I'll move into my house - yes, house! It's a beautiful four bedroom place, with gorgeous hardwood floors & lots of character. I am greatly looking forward to making it my home.

Reflecting back on 2009, I am reminded of where life has taken me & the people along the way. It's not been the easiest year, to say the least, but it was filled with moments of personal growth and love from friends & family. I'm so thankful to those along the way. Life certainly takes us in interesting directions and I know God was there every step of the way. There were many moments when I never thought this day would come - when I was filled with doubt and uncertainty, when my heart was overwhelmed with sorrow. I am so glad to be on the other side now and feel 2010 is going to be fabulous.

Thanks to all who have taken this journey with me. I promise to write more often. For now, peace and blessings to all as we embark on a new year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I'm headed out tomorrow morning to spend a few days in Ohio with my family. I really love spending time with them - cooking, watching the Macy's parade all together, going out at 4am to shop on Black Friday, and simply catching up on stories of the past year. With so many of us in the ministry, we are not able to be together during Christmas, so Thanksgiving has become our main family holiday. This year, we are adding a new fun thing - making a big gingerbread house with my little 3 year old cousin Micah (who is more like my nephew). He's a meticulous little boy, so this should be interesting! We are also celebrating the upcoming birth of Micah's baby brother, Nate, who should be gracing us with his presence next month! The added blessing is being able to celebrate my 29th birthday on Saturday with my family. I made a delicious cheesecake for the occasion - the first time I've ever made my own birthday cake:) Should be fabulous.

Despite the ups and downs of these last 6 months, I have much to be thankful for ~ the love & support of my family, amazing friends who are always there, the sense of call in my life, knowing that God is with me every step of the way. I will be especially thankful this year, as so many are without this holiday season. They will be in my prayers.

Thanks be to God for all good gifts and blessings bestowed upon us. May this be a time filled with thanks and love...not to mention yummy food:)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

By the grace of God...

"But by the grace of God, I am what I am, & God's grace toward me has not been in vain" ~ I Corinthians 15.10

I saw this passage of scripture on a friend's facebook page today & it really struck me. In this time of uncertainity, it brings me a sense of comfort knowing God created me for a reason. When one is searching for a call, especially when one is currently unemployed, there is such a strong sense of doubt and frustration surrounding it all. It's been a long six months since I graduated from seminary & there's been so much that has happened since then. I've moved in and out of seasons of restlessness and sadness, but there have also been moments of blessing. There's been moments of deep heartache - the loss of a friend, the disappointment from not receiving a call, the pain of watching my father deal with the harsh side of church politics. There's been moments when I saw God's grace - time spent with good friends over warm cups of tea, a drive through the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, the love of family, conversations with a trusted friend & professor who knows me better than many people.

I know this journey has been long, but I also trust God indeed has a plan for me. It's not always easy to remember this, but I try every day. That's all I can do. And, by the grace of God, I will find a call. Thanks be to God for grace and love and reminders of blessings.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life these days

It's been awhile! Sorry to those who read my blog regularly. My friend Kristy asked about my blog today & I realized I hadn't written anything since late August. Yikes! Living in a small town with limited internet access places a strain on blog writing & I wasn't sure what to write about. Apology over. Now onto what's been happening lately.

I'm still in the call process. Looking for a call in the PC(USA) isn't always a fast process - I know this from experience:) I have a couple of face to face interviews in the next couple of weeks, so we shall see what happens with those. Both are wonderful places & I would be happy living in either place. Lots of praying happening here!

I am "working" right now. I'm a volunteer/grunt laborer at Main Street: Greeneville, a non-profit that works with historic preservation & tourism. It's a small organization & the executive director is a friend, so she hired me until I get a call. In the least, it gets me out of the house & doing something 2 to 3 days a week, and I've met a lot of interesting & influencial people in my small town. Right now, we are working on Halloween Happenings (a fun night of candy, hay rides, & costume contests in downtown) and selling our new Main Street cookbooks.

I did manage to get down to Atlanta a week or so ago. It was so nice to see friends! My head was spinning in all different directions & I really needed those couple of days away. I have some of the most amazing friends - who let me vent & sleep on their couches/floors! I was able to eat at my favorite place - Taqueria Del Sol. They have the most amazing carnitas tacos. Yum. I miss being able to go there on a regular basis. Might have to make a road trip again soon:)

That's about all that's happening in my life right now. Oh, currently writing a sermon for one of my interviews - preaching neutral pulpit a week from Sunday. Text is Mark 10.46-52 where Jesus heals Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. Great text. If you should have any thoughts, feel free to leave me a comment. I'm accepting any & all thoughts. Prayers too.

More later. Blessings to you!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Season of Restlessness

I think I've moved into a new season - a season of restlessness. The whole searching for a call thing is quite the emotional roller coaster. It's hard to keep sending out PIF after PIF, not knowing what is going to happen next or if they will even consider you further. While some days have been rough over the last couple months, I still hold onto hope that there is indeed a church out there for me. I just don't know where it is!

I'm restless, in more ways than one. I'm tossing & turning most nights, unable to get comfortable. I think God might be telling me something, just not sure what it is quite yet. I'm itching to get in my car & drive - to get away from it all for a few days. I've considered going to the beach, to stare at the ocean & clear my head. But, this costs money, which is not in huge supply right now, since I am currently without employment. However, I am heading to Atlanta this weekend to celebrate with my dear friends Kari & Steve, who are getting married on Saturday. They are amazing & I am grateful they want me to be there to witness the beginning of the new chapter of their lives. This will be a great opportunity to get away, see friends, enjoy good ATL food, and maybe even clear my head.

Maybe God wants me to be in a season of restlessness. Maybe something good will come from this. Maybe it won't last too long. I hope so.

Friday, August 07, 2009


"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace." - Ecclessiates 3.1-8

Over this past week, I've been reminded of the seasons of life. This passage from Ecclessiates brings me great comfort during times of transition and times of sadness.

I said goodbye to a friend this past week. She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in February 2008 and underwent chemo. After finishing chemo in winter 2009, her tumor returned. She died last Thursday, leaving behind her two young daughters & grieving family members and friends. She was only 27. We were friends in high school, went to church together, active in the youth group, spent summers in Montreat & on mission trips together. She was a truly beautiful person with a vibrant spirit for life. It makes me sad that cancer took this amazing person away. She & I lost touch when I went off to college. I only saw her a few times.

Her death reminds me of how much I miss my friends - old & new, far & near. I've moved around a lot in the past 10 years with school & internships. I'm afraid I've lost touch with so many people who meant a lot to me. It makes me sad to think about all of the time that has gone by. I think I am especially reminded of these past friendships as I am still waiting to see what will happen next in my own life & am living back home with my family. My friends are all living in other places, which makes communication hard. I hope to try harder to maintain my friendships.

I feel like I am in a season of sadness. After a long period of waiting, I found out that I did not get the job at the church I interviewed with last month. I knew this was a possibility & tried to prepare myself. I don't think you can ever be fully prepared. I'm a little heartbroken, but trying to remain hopeful. God will call me where I need to be. This just wasn't the right place.

"...a time to mourn and a time to dance..." Looking forward to dancing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Prayer Pants Are On

It's been a while since I last posted on here. To be honest, I'm not completely sure who actually reads this blog! Regardless, a lot has happened since June 1st. I've gotten used to being here in Tennessee, although I admit that I am very ready to move! I do enjoy spending time with my family, but I'm ready for more. About a month ago, I went on the senior high work camp with my home church because they needed another adult leader at the last minute. We spent about 9 days in Louisville, KY doing repair work at Cedar Ridge Presbytery Camp and with Wayside Christian Mission in downtown Louisville. The kids had a wonderful experience & did a lot of hard work in the heat & humidity! I had a great time getting to know them. They are a great youth group with a lot of talented kids.
Soon after, I had an interview with a church. I can't mention where it is, but I can say that it was a great experience! I really loved the church & the people I met there. Honestly, I could very easily see myself living there & working at this church. Now, the hard part begins. I will probably hear from them in the next couple of weeks. Waiting is extremely hard! So, my prayer pants are on:) I know God has plans for me & I am trying my best to wait for them. In the meantime, I have a few other leads on positions.
Living in liminal space is not the easiest thing to do. There are so many unknowns & I really have very little control over it all. All I can do is present myself in the best way possible to these PNCs & pray things will work out. I am certainly looking forward to the day when I am settled in my new place & beginning the new chapter of my life.
Meanwhile, I'll keep my prayer pants on. If you want, you can put yours on too.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Waiting in Tennessee

I'm back in Tennessee for the time being.  I spent most of my first week at home relaxing on the couch, watching endless episodes of House, and basically allowing myself to decompress from finishing up seminary.  However, I did manage to summon the energy to finish my PIF!  It's ready to be placed on the CLC website on Saturday, after the Presbytery vote.  I went before the CPM today & they approved my final assessment.  Thank the Lord!  I'm glad it went well & thankful to be finishing this part of the process.  It's been a really long journey & it's exciting to finally be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  So, now I wait until Saturday afternoon.  I pray it all goes well & I can officially look for a call.  

In the meantime, I wait.  Patiently.  Well, not so patiently.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Master of the Divine

Well, it's over! I officially finished all of my classes, papers, and finals for my MDiv on Thursday afternoon. It's a good feeling to not have my life be run by syllabi, endless amounts of reading, and writing papers. Now, I've had a few days to let it all sink in. It's been a whirlwind of a journey over the last four years! I move between feeling sad about leaving & feeling excited about what will come next. The moments of excitement seem to be more frequent than those of sadness, but there have been many, many tears shed over the last week or so. But, I think I've come to a place of acceptance about leaving CTS, which is good. It's not a final goodbye to friends, thanks to the miracles of Facebook & email. It will be a little strange not living in community, but something I will get used to.

So, my days are filled with packing boxes & writing my sermon for final assessment. That is my next big thing - final assessment on June 1st with the CPM & in front of Presbytery on June 6th. Then, the real fun begins:) I feel good about all of it. I know God is with me all the way.

Graduation is Saturday morning! It should be a wonderful day. My parents arrive Friday morning & I'm blessed to have my aunt, cousin & her 2 1/2 year old son Micah coming down from Ohio to celebrate with us for the weekend.

A week from today, I will be at home in Tennessee. I don't think that part has sunk in just yet...

Monday, April 20, 2009

No Yale for me...

Well, after a month of waiting patiently (or impatiently), I heard from Yale New Haven Hospital. They have filled their program & I am not going to be one of their resident chaplains next year. I'm a little sad & disappointed today. But, I'm actually handling it fairly well, all things considered. I am holding onto faith that God indeed has plans for me, and this was not it.

Plan B is to spend the summer at home in Tennessee after graduation & begin the search process for a call in full force. I'm not a huge fan of liminal space, but I think this is where I am being called to live for at least the next little while. I will go through final assessment with the CPM & Holston Presbytery during the first week of June, and hopefully on June 6th, I can put my PIF out there.

God is with me. I know this. It's still hard, but I have a lot of other stuff to focus on right now, like writing a paper for American Religious History, preparing a presentation for that class (which is tomorrow), and writing a lesson plan & rationale for Christian Ed. Not to mention taking an oral alternative Bible Content exam! Lots to keep my mind occupied:)

Thanks to all of you who sent prayers my way! I can really feel them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

See and Believe?

Here's my sermon for Sunday- I'm preaching at a church in LaGrange, GA near the GA-Alabama border. Looking for any and all feedback!

See and Believe?

John 20:19-31 19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The second Sunday of Easter- we have been through the power of Holy Week – gathered around the table to partake of bread and wine and spent quiet moments reflecting on the violence surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and death upon the cross. We have celebrated Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday morning, sung our joyful hymns, and heard the story of the women at the tomb who come to realize Christ is no longer dead, but alive once again. We proclaimed – “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

But now, a week has gone by. Life is returning to normal: back to work & school, continuing to whittle away at our long to do lists, and the pressures of everyday life begin to overwhelm us again.

But, Easter is not over! The story continues with this passage from the Gospel of John this morning. And, we are presented with a question that bears our careful consideration – do you need to see in order to believe?

Some of us are like Thomas in this story. He had a hard time believing the disciples were telling the truth about seeing Christ again. Thomas wants to see the risen Christ for himself, not simply relying on the stories of others. He wants to see, to touch, to feel Christ with him once again. Thomas really just wants what the other disciples were able to experience behind those closed doors – an encounter with the risen Christ.

And, some of us are like the disciples behind the closed doors. They were afraid and locked themselves away. And we, like those disciples, have a tendency to live in our comfortable realities of this world, despite that the Easter story has essentially turned the world upside down. We often live behind our closed doors, where we do not have to face our fears, huddled together, not quite ready to live into the gift of the Spirit, as an Easter people. Our temptation is to celebrate Easter and then go back to life as usual, like nothing really happened. But, the story does not end with Christ being raised from death unto life. There is much more. Christ appeared to the disciples, breathing the power of the Holy Spirit upon them, sending them into the world to proclaim peace and good news to all people.

This is our story. A little bit of Thomas and a little bit of the other disciples. We have doubts, we have fears, and we have all of the emotions of the ones whom Christ had chosen to follow him. We want to see in order to believe. There are times we wish we could actually see Jesus, touch him, hear his words for ourselves – you know, straight from the source. That is what Thomas wanted. The disciples who witnessed the first encounter behind the closed doors probably wanted to see Jesus again. We want to see the risen Christ too.

And so, Jesus appeared to them for a second time, and this time, Thomas was with them. And, after placing his hands into the wounds on his body, he proclaims, “my Lord and my God”. Jesus’ response is to ask the question – do you believe because you have seen me? What a powerful question, not only for Thomas, but for us. Must we see in order to believe? We live in a world filled with skepticism and doubt. We seem to always want a little more proof. We look for answers to the hard questions of life and of faith. And, we want those answers. It is like we need to see in order to truly believe.

The answer Jesus gives to his own question is “blessed are those who have not yet seen, but have come to believe.” There is an element of trust implied in this answer. Thomas and the other disciples need to trust he is indeed with them, even if they are not able to physically see him or touch his body. And, this is true for us as well. Since we were not present for the resurrection or the appearances to the disciples behind closed doors, we need to place our trust in this written word, that Jesus is the Son of God, and in our belief, we will have new life. We cannot place our hands on the wounds ourselves, but we can look for places in our lives where we have witnessed the risen Christ.

When reflecting about this, I am reminded of glimpses of grace - we have these every day in our lives, those times when we are able to feel Christ’s presence with us. My dear friend Whitney started a blog almost three years ago that chronicles her glimpses of grace, encounters with the risen Christ, in her daily life. These range from a warm cup of tea on a chilly day, to her encounters with interesting people, to the discovery of new things and old treasures. We are indeed surrounded by these glimpses into the realm of the holy and transcendent – those times when we can indeed see and believe Christ is indeed with us. Over these last few days, I have been reminded of these moments in my own life, as graduation from seminary is quickly approaching. I think of the people who greatly enrich my life, the moments when I can truly feel & hear God speaking to me, times when I can feel Christ’s presence surrounding me, especially in times of great anxiety about what the future might hold. These moments of holy space point us towards the risen Christ and where we can truly see him in our daily lives, amidst the suffering, the hard places in our world.

The words Jesus speaks to his disciples – “peace be with you”, he also speaks to us this day. Christ meets us where we are, even behind our closed doors. He meets us in moments of real honesty, real life and this is truly when we are able to recognize Christ, and that we are not alone in this world, but have always been found by God. That is the power of this story – the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. For we are indeed disciples of Christ in this world, blessed by God, and having received the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are sent out to proclaim the peace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to a world in great need of hope. We not only hear the words “peace be with you”, but we are charged to share them with all whom we encounter in our daily lives. This is what it means to live as Easter people – living into our calling as disciples, sharing the good news, believing what we have seen for ourselves, all the while, trusting in what others have seen before us. And, in doing so, the story continues on.

Blessed are those who have not yet seen, but have come to believe. Blessed are you have not yet seen and yet continue to believe. Indeed, blessed are you. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Glimpses of Grace

That is the title of my dear friend Whitney's blog. She posted her top ten favorite glimpses today & as I read through them, I was reminded of her journey through seminary & now in Belfast, Northern Ireland as a minister of Word & Sacrament.

I am also reminded of the glimpses of grace in my own life ~
  • the amazing words of love & grace from two powerful sisters in Christ - Christine Yoder & Kathleen O'Connor
  • a warm cup of tea after a rather chilly evening
  • friends who always know what you are thinking even before speaking one word out loud
  • receiving a note from a pastor I worked for before coming to seminary asking how I was & if I needed anything as I move towards graduation
  • seeing a friend after a long time apart & rejoicing in her daughter's recovery from illness
  • the incredible support & love of a trusted professor & friend through a rough patch of life
  • these final days of seminary, although amidst anxiety & sadness
  • the gift of new life and new beginnings

So, thank you Whitney, for sharing your glimpses of grace with us. And for being one in my life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Random Saturday thoughts

I'm back from my adventures to Connecticut & New York City. My interview at Yale Hospital went really well. I loved the hospital, the supervisors seemed really great, and I think I would love working there. New Haven fits my style too, which is a good thing. I should find out this coming week if I got the job or not.

Today, Imago Dei @ CTS (I'm a co-moderator) held an event - Sexuality, the Church, & Pizza. We had 31 people come, which is amazing since it was a Saturday & it was raining! We had conversations about what does the Bible say about sexuality & how to be a welcoming church/ally. Two New Testament professors, Beth Johnson & David Bartlett, & two area pastors, Mandy Flemming & Paris Ely, led the conversations. People asked great, thoughtful questions & really listened to each other. It was a great success!

Life continues to be rather busy, with only 7 weeks before graduation. Trying to read for classes, work on papers, the whole job search thing - it's a lot to manage, especially when senioritis begins to set in...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yale, Gilmore Girls, & Adventures in NYC

I am sitting in my hotel room in New Haven, CT. I flew from Atlanta to New York City this morning, landing at JFK airport. Then, I navigated the A & 4 lines of the NYC subway system to Grand Central Station. The place was filled with St. Patty's Day parade people & lots of green! After an amazing slice of NYC pizza, I boarded a commuter train to New Haven. The train made stops in Greenwich, Stamford, Milford & a few other little Connecticut towns before ending up in New Haven.

I wandered around the town late this afternoon, had dinner at an Irish pub, and took a walk through some of the Yale campus. I saw Branford College - where Rory Gilmore lived during her time at Yale:) My plan is to hit the Yale Bookstore & study in the library tomorrow afternoon.

The reason for my travels to CT is to interview at Yale-New Haven Hospital in the morning for their CPE residency program. I really think this might be where I will end up in September! Hope that it goes well tomorrow.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Snow Day in Atlanta!

The view from my window

The tree outside my living room

Looking out at the quad

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thoughts on APCE 2009

I received a scholarship from CTS to attend this year's APCE conference. As part of it, I am to post about my experience. Here are my thoughts...

A Light to the Nations
Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Annual Conference
January 28-31, 2009 in San Antonio, TX

I had the privilege of attending my third APCE conference this January, thanks to the generous support of the SCC scholarship fund here at CTS. This year, the theme of the conference was “A Light to the Nations”, based on the text from Isaiah 42 – “…I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations…” Eileen Lindner (keynote presenter) & J. Herbert Nelson (preacher) delved deeply into what exactly it meant to be a light to the nations, given the current global situation. We wrestled with what constitutes a “nation” in our context, biblical understandings of light, the context of how to bring light in our world, and what it means to be educators in the church given these understandings & conditions. Both the keynote presentations & worship services were very powerful & left me thinking deeply about my call to ministry.

In addition to amazing plenary sessions, I attended several workshops:

Making Good Decisions & Good Christians: this was presented by Jeff Japinga from McCormick Seminary & it was all about working with committees in their decision making processes. I came away with great ideas & resources for incorporating elements of discipleship into committee work.

The Gospel According to Beads: Tammy Weins, Meg Rift, & Betsy Ensign-George from the PC(USA) national headquarters gave a wonderful workshop that traced the significant moments of Jesus’ life & ministry through the means of creating a prayer bracelet. If you would like to see the finished product, let me know!

Practicing Discernment with Youth: David White from Austin Seminary presented on a particular model of discernment & how to enable young people to see their mission in the world.

I also had the privilege of assisting my father, Alan Kobs, with his workshop entitled Work Camp Ministry.

Other highlights:
Representing Columbia Theological Seminary at the PC(USA) Seminaries booth in the exhibit hall & helping to host the Columbia Seminary gathering with Kathy Dawson & Kristin Stroble

Overall, it was a fantastic conference! I came away with new insights & fresh perspectives on educational ministry in the church. It was a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and make great connections with church leaders around the country. Thanks again to the SCC scholarship committee for their support.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Texas Bound

Tomorrow morning, I fly to San Antonio, Texas for the APCE (Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators) 2009 Annual Conference. I'm so excited! I've never been to Texas, except for layovers in the Dallas & Houston airports. We're staying at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk & the events are located all over the city. My friend Kristin is going as well & thank goodness we're on the same flight. We'll each be working in the exhibit hall - I'm representing CTS at the PCUSA Seminaries booth & Kristin is at the Young Adult Volunteer booth - taking workshops, listening to plenaries, & enjoying good worship services. This year, I am co-teaching a workshop on Work Camp Ministry with my dad. Also, we're going done early to enjoy San Antonio. I hope to catch up with my friend Rachel, who moved to San Antonio a couple of years ago & we've not seen each other for a long time. It should be a great trip & much needed break before spring semester starts next Monday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change Has Arrived

Today marks an incredible day in our country's history. We witnessed long standing barriers come crashing to the ground. I was in awe today, watching the inauguration with some of my favorite friends & professors from CTS, crowded into our student lounge, hanging on every word spoken in his address. We cheered, we cried, we experienced it together- all of us. It didn't matter what color of our skin, our background, nothing mattered. Except the mere fact that we shared a moment of profound importance. I will never forget where I was when I witnessed Barack Obama take the oath of office as our 44th President.

I was also moved by Rev. Joseph Lowry's benediction. Here it is, courtesy of the Federal News Service:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
REV. LOWERY: Say amen –
REV. LOWERY: — and amen.
AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

I echo that. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peace, peace, where there is no peace

I took to the streets today. This isn't something I normally do, but it felt right. I walked the streets of downtown Atlanta, surrounded by men, women, and children- those who want an end to the violence in Gaza and Israel. It was powerful. It was uncomfortable. It was liberating. I wanted to do more than blog and pray for peace, but also march for peace. While I didn't agree with all of the signs & chants around me, the greater purpose of giving voice to peace was present.

I'm still processing it all. More to come.

Friday, January 09, 2009

When Will it End?

The fighting in Israel & Gaza must end. It is so painful to hear day after day stories of war. I often wonder if it will ever end. Both sides have been fighting for so long, I am not even sure they even know what they are fighting about anymore. Rockets are flying, homes & business are going up in flames, people are dying. Every single day. When will it end?

I pray for peace. I pray for hope. I pray for people who just want to live their lives without fear. I continue to pray.

I read some interesting posts about the Israel/Gaza war recently & I invite you to read them too. The first is a blog, written by two people - one in Gaza & one in Israel. It is a powerful witness of hope and peace. http://gaza-sderot.blogspot.com/ (thanks to Kerri for the link)

The second is a post by our PCUSA moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow - a prayer for people in Gaza, but also a link to a letter written by the stated clerk, Gradye Parsons. http://www.mod.reyes-chow.com/2009/01/prayers-for-the-end-of-violence.html

Pray for peace. Pray for hope. Pray for all people.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Return from Sabbath

I've been away for about a month now. My semester ended on Dec 12th & I headed home to Tennessee for about two weeks of Sabbath rest. It was just what I needed after this incredibly stressful semester, filled with many ups and downs.

After my much needed rest, I went to Maryland to visit friends from my time there last year. It was exactly what I needed in order to gain some much needed perspective. I found myself very grateful for my year in this particular church- they loved & nurtured me. They see in me passion for ministry and know that I am called by God. There have been many times along this seminary journey when I felt so lost and filled with doubt. Sitting in the sanctuary for two Sundays, hearing the familar liturgy & two amazing sermons, looking around at all of the faces of those I love, it clicked. I was able to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt recharged and renewed for these final months of seminary.

I am reminded of the long, winding journey I've been on & of the people who walked with me on different parts of it. I am so thankful for each & every one of them. I would not be at this point without them.

Now, I am back at the seminary, taking a two week class with my fellow seniors. It is called Integrations & we're talking about ministry & leadership. Especially taking stock of where we are & where we imagine we are headed post-graduation. Although many people often don't care for this course, I think it might be the best class I take at CTS. I'm at a point in my life where I need to take this time to reflect & gather strength for the next steps in my journey.

Thanks be to God for time, for friends, for mentors, for reflection, and for study.