Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mussing up yet again

One of my biggest struggles at St. Paul's is our music ministry - we have very little. When I arrived, we had two organists who were members of our congregation. One has died and the other moved away. This leaves us with music students - who, let's be honest, are not always the most reliable although I really do appreciate their efforts. Often we find ourselves singing accapella. We're getting good at that but it means that we can't try too many new things.

Part of the problem is that I have been a member of a number of congregations so I find it difficult to remember which hymns are the ones St. Paul's knows and which are the ones that just my family knows. I've tried having a hymn chosing committee but this has not been successful. I've tried suggestion boxes and having various people chose the hymns but this has not seen much success either.

It leaves me struggling to arrange the music, always conscious of the displeasure of the people when I muss up. I think I could just about pray anything without complaint but music is almost a sacred cow. It doesn't help when I get slack about double checking tunes to familiar hymns. We sang - What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I figured I couldn't go wrong with that - everyone knows it. Well okay, everyone knows it but not to the tune that is in Common Praise. And wouldn't you just know. I never thought to check the tune when I chose the hymn. I didn't even think there could be more than one for such a old well known hymn.

Ohh boy. Apology time again. I suppose we could have looked for the tune we knew but that takes time and it's not fair to spring changes on organists at the last minute unless they are ones that know our music well. So muss up no. 1.

Actually that was muss up no. 2. The first came in the opening hymn which everyone knew. Which I thought I knew. So when the organist started before I had found it in my hymn book, I wasn't worried. I usually know the first verse of the older hymns. Unless of course, Common Praise decides to change the words. Then, as I'm trying to find the hymn and singing from memory, the congregation and I are singing different words - not a lot different but in a situation where I am required to lead the singing (which is because we have no choir) it does get a little tough.

I pray often for help in the music ministry area. I have enough basics but I would dearly love to have someone to take over responsibilty for this ministry. It takes far too much of my time. So if anyone is inspired to pray for something for my wonderful community - please pray for this.

I know there is a lot more that may be more important but at the moment this is a concern and distraction that are keeping me from those possiblty more important things - although, it is obviously very important to my people as it is the aspect of our worship that gets the most criticism. My "tweaking" of the services rarely raises an eybrow and my sermons don't often raise a comment (I wish they did, it would show that someone was listening). But something going wrong with the music is an issue. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not faulting my people on this - our music is something that obviously speaks strongly to them and I would agree on its that it speaks very strongly to the soul - more than just the spoken word).

So, if you could find a little time to say a prayer or two, I would greatly appreciate it.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, July 27, 2007

An "Old Friend" - but not too old

Deb is in Canterbury. Does she ever stop traveling?

Anyway, she has started a blog to tell of her "tale".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oscar the Cat

I caught the tail end of this story on CTV News.

Then I saw a more detailed story linked at Episcopal Cafe.

I am a cat lover from way, way back. My godmother gave me a cat when I was 4 and I have rarely been without one since then. When we got "Leo" for the children, I would lay on the couch with him curled up beside me. It was so peaceful and relaxing to hear him purr - almost healing. I can understand how it would help to have that presence as one was dying.

I know that one of the nurses at the Long Term Care facility here has mentioned concern with the residents who die all alone. The staff does the best they can but they have other people to look after. I told her that I would be willing to come in and sit with anyone who was dying by themselves but there has been no follow up. This story about Oscar reminded me of that converstaion and I think I will bring this story up at the next vestry meeting as an introduction to a possible ministry for my sick and visiting teams.

Anyhow, this sort of thing, the specialness of animals fascinates me - especially when it involves cats.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I have to say that since General Synod I have come closer than ever to actually doing something other than just talk. I have listened to the pain of those who have remained in the church with faith and hope of full inclusion. If it was just myself involved, I would have no problem in continuing the path I have chosen - to be a voice of possibility. But hearing the pain of those around me is becoming too much. I desparately want to reach out. Recently, I have been far closer to saying yes to doing a same sex blessing than I ever have. Not because of my own conscience, I can live with that. But believing that these blessings are so totally right, the pain of those denied is so strong.

I had given serious thought to asking the bishop to take back my marriage liscence. If I can't do blessings for same sex couples then I won't for opposite sex sort of thing. But that doesn't solve what is happening. The problem is that some wonderful people I have come to know and love are being denied something that I truly believe should not be denied (not because of social justice - but because after years of study, prayer, and talk, I firmly believe that they are already blessed by God and who are we, as humans, to continue to deny that.)

It's not necessarily that all want a blessing. It is the message that we are giving out. In denying the blessing we are saying that we do not fully accept them as the wonderful children of God that they are. We speak one thing but our actions (or lack of actions) say another.

The questions becomes, how can I affirm people's life in the faith if that faith does not fully accept them? What is there for me to say in response to their pain as they look for hope in these confused times? What can I offer them that speaks to that hope?

I continue to hold to chosen path, but it is becoming harder and harder. I am so much more aware of how wrong it is that we exclude those who are loved by God for all that they are. For me, maybe it is simpler - if it got to be too much, I can find some other space to live and answer God's call. But for those I would leave behind the options are not as easy. So far the need to stay and be a voice outweighs the need to reach out and answer the call to bless, but it is more and more of a struggle with each person to whom I listen.

I will manage and I will continue as I have been. I have wonderful support. I do have hope. I am able to work at doing some concrete things. But my heart and prayers are with those who do not have these things. If I'm struggling, I can only begin to imagine how much harder it is for them. As weak as my words and prayers are, please know that you are not alone and that you are loved for all that you are. I sincerely believe that there is hope for us all.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Past Reflections

A few things have come up recently that has me thinking about how we learn to get along in our diversity (a diversity to be celebrated rather than seen as a problem). I went back to my original posts which explain the title of this blog.

Setting It Up and "Sarah's Circle" .

These are how I understand a way forward for the church. I realize that there are some problems with the vision - these ways very much reflect my own theology and may not resonate fully with those whose theology differs. I do welcome that diversity, though.

I am happy to see that we are starting to look at the healing of relationships among us. That we are starting to look at how to come together and share in our diversity. So far, in my own personal little world this is happening in two separate spaces - one I posted about a couple of posts down and another that is also in the planning stage that I have been asked to help in setting up the way in which we can dialogue in a safe and welcoming space. I hold hope that it is may no longer be a matter of proving who is right and who is wrong but rather that our focus will be how we can live and work together as people of God. In this diocese this is both a movement from the "powers that be" and from the local clergy. I do note the lack of the grassroots in this last statement but in all honesty if my congregation is anything to go by, one of the major ways that living with diversity becomes an issue is if the priest makes it an issue, which I refuse to do and work hard to bring acceptance and respect of all healthy differences.

I do value my time at seminary and the relationships that were formed there as well as the relationships that continue as we move further away from that space. To some extent, it anchors me as learn and grow in my own ministry and the relationships with the various members of the expanded community.

My first year at seminary I was "thrown to the lions", "burned at the stake", and "tarred and feathered" but never was I "crucified" or more formally excommunicated (although this latter was mentioned). And, with the exception of the "excommunication", what was done was done with good humour and caring as we learned to live with our differences - and let's face it, I certainly relished being different and fostering those reactions. Our discussions, although at times serious and intense, always left room for the fact that we did truly care about each other. If one of us was in crisis, all would be there for them. I find that in my congregation - if one is having diffculty all are there for support and none more so than those who usually disagree. I love watching the dynamics of the different relationships, some of which amaze me because of how different the individuals are. I know that there is hope if only we can put our individual selves and our own need to be right and affirmed by all aside and start to listen and care with each other.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I was over at An Inch at a Time. I followed her link to this Walking with Integrity. Most of what it says reflects what I feel so I just thought I would link it and let it speak for me.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Well, it's been a couple of interesting days in blogland. On a personal level, I had lunch the other day with a wonderful person I was meeting for the first time. She is the fiance of a very good friend of mine and I was thrilled to have the chance to get to know her a little. I was also so thrilled to see the bond between my friend and her. I am looking forward to getting to know her better in the future. One of the highlights was when I discovered that she knew some of my favourite bloggers from around the New York area. It made blogland seem that much smaller.

Feminism seems the issue de jour over the last couple of days. I am not going to make any comments on the particular postings that started all the turmoil ( added after the original posting - except a rant at the end of this posting - I just couldn't keep quiet it seems) but I do see some things that cause me to stop and think.

I am a feminist. I accept that title with pride. I used to qualify it but I do so no more. I cringe each time a read a post which claims that feminists are harmful to society or a post that claims that feminists are against women who decide to stay at home to work raising their families. I chose to stay at home and raise my family until my youngest was in grade 2. I don't feel any lack in doing that. I believe it is what God called me to do. So, to claim, that I as a feminist do not support such a thing is laughable. I have a daughter who is a feminist - her desire for her life - to stay at home looking after the two children she hopes to have. I don't have a problem with that at all.

My mother wanted her daughters to have both a career and a family. For many years, one of her daughters had a career and one of her daughters had a family (although I guess I could say that my career was looking after my family). At first I felt that I was not living up to my own expectations - that I should be getting my degree and working outside my home. I finally came to peace with the way my life was (and God zapped me by calling me to the ordained ministry). With that peace, I realized that my mother had gotten what she wished for just not in the way she wanted. I also realized that it was interesting that both my sister and I realized that each of our life choices involved full time work and just how hard it would be for someone to have both a career and a family life. It's not easy to balance. I sincerely believe that God was with me through all of this, giving me the chance to be the mother I needed to be but when my family was ready, calling me into my vocation/career. Now I try to balance both as do many other women.

Where I want to go with this is to debunk the fact that a woman cannot be a feminist and support stay at home moms at the same time. It is not an either/or position. I am getting hot under the collar with the people assume, based on the words of a few, that this is something inherent to feminism.

Next rant is about the idea that feminism has harmed society. I don't even know where to start. Frustration doesn't even begin to describe what I feel when I see this old line trotted out. Harmed society - ha. Is there no understanding of how "society" has harmed women throughout the centuries. I think one of the lines I read recently was about women's ordination. It went something along the lines that the writer believed that men and women were created equal but that did not give women the inherent right to be ordained. Damn right it doesn't. It also doesn't give men the inherent right to be ordained. God calls those that God wishes to serve in this manner. None of us has the inherent right. It is God's choice and God's call. What right do we as human beings have to dispute God's call. Do people not see the harm they do in disputing women's called to ordained ministry. How can you say that we are equal and then suggest that there is something in being a woman that means you cannot participate equally if called.

The so called harm occurs in the natural adjustment to what is right with the way we are created. The so called harm occurs when we cannot open our eyes and ears to what God is trying to say to us about who and what we are - when we continue to be hidebound by many years of tradition, which is based on erroneous understandings of what it means to be human and what it means to male/female. I read how the early church fathers understood males and females and I cringe. My experience doesn't back that up at all. The Bible doesn't back that up either as far as I can see. We are suppose to weep for those who can't accept us (women) as we struggle to understand ourselves and our capabilities - as we discover there is more to us than we have been taught throughout the centuries (mainly by men but also by women). And I do weep and pray for them in their blindness and in their pain. But stopping my push toward full acceptance does not make things right. The harm that is being done is a product of what is happening as we adjust to the changes our heightened understanding brings. It is not something I would wish for but it is a part of the process as we learn to let go of misconceptions that have been fostered through our history.

It is not a world of either/or. That is a human construct. There is so much more out there. There are endless possiblities. We limit ourselves with either/or thinking. We limit what God can do with our either/or thinking. We limit our relationships with our either/or thinking. We label people as certain things and then claim that because they are that label, they must also be this and this and this. We can't see that people can be more than one set of things that there are blurring of lines or even bits and pieces taken from each of the categories we are so rigid about. We are much more than just where we stand on issues or how we do liturgy or whatever it is that we use to define ourselves. Indeed definitions result from our need for security and stability rather than reality. And those definitions are very harmful. They also can block us from forming some wonderful relationships and taking advantage of learning opportunities.

And one more rant over what is happening in various parts of blogland. A blogger made a mistake which caused harm to another blogger. The mistake was corrected when it was pointed out. Unfortunately, someone got hold of the original blog and would not let it go. The harm was perpetuated. A sincere apology was offered by the first blogger to the person who was hurt. Still there are many in blogland who will not let go. Who gave these people the right to judge and condemn. Who gave these people the right to continue the original harm being done. Those people who are not able to let go, who are calling out for blood are not following the Christ that I have come to know and love. This is not the behaviour of the Christ that hung on the cross (out of love for all of sinners) and asked, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." Those people are not following the example of the Jesus I know who when people repented of their sins, responded - go and sin no more. He did not demand that they give their blood until there was nothing left to give. For God's sake, people (and I do mean that literally) give it up. Let go and leave it to God to judge and forgive. Leave it where it truly belongs. Are you willing to go on condemning while knowing the grevious sins that you have committed over the years and for which you have asked and received forgiveness. You say the Lord's prayer every day. Do the words - forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us - mean nothing to you. Quit trying to demonize those who make you uncomfortable and please start listening to what they are really saying rather than what you want them to say so that you can categorize them in a way that makes you comfortable rather than as a child loved and forgiven by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.