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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A sign of the times

This is not about church today..... or spirtituality...... it's information that is disheartening to report, but this is what it is.

Today I don't have to go to work @ the UN. In fact, all "non essential" employees have been cordially invited NOT to attend. It is an official day off.... because it is too dangerous to go to work.

In my 26 years @ the UN - we have never been asked specifically to stay @ home the first day of the General Assembly. Yet we are this year. A circular went around telling us that - unless we really needed to come in - we should probably take Thursday and Friday off too as personal vacation days.

Ostensibly, these measures are in place because of traffic congestion and street closures - particularly with the arrival of Mr. Bush later today.

That's all well and good....... but before this time the staff was never requested to specifically register on line on a special roster as being "on premesis" for these 3 days or to - with a day's notice - register "in case of emergency" names.

Pray, my sisters and brothers, that the meetings this week go forward without incident; pray for restraint and peace and cooperation in dealing with turmoil whether here or abroad.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Just one of those things

I'm scheduled to preach @ St. Bartholomew's this Sunday on a great passage.... the landowner that comes out several times the same day and gets some laborers to work for him. I'll post it here later in the week.

I want to float this out for you... out there in cyberland..... I have a question for you that I can't answer.

Why do people sit in the back 1/3 of any given church? I DON'T GET IT. Coming from a theatre background, I know about playing to the hard-of-hearing lady in the back row tucked beneath the mezzanine.... but in churches - at least in these parts - the mezz. is usually populated by the organist and the choir.

Why does the congregation sit that far back?? In response to my question I have heard either a simple explanation or a simple statement: 1) because I may need to leave early or 2) because I ALWAYS sit here.

In these last 20 years of my church-going life I have become a radical moderate. Balance tradition with contemporary, keep services meaningful to many in the congregation, preach a Gospel of love and justice, offer a homily that is thought provoking, pray the prayers (instead of reading them). Now my more radical self is wanting to see the space in church used to its fullest potential which may mean losing some of the pews or, at the very least, loosing some of the pews.

I know that times have changed for the church. These days it is as likely that a person or family tries to "fit" church in on a Sunday amidst other commitments as it is for a person or family to make church the single constant and other commitments the add-on.

What can we do to make the Word of God, the study of that Word, the proclamation of that Word so compelling that someone can't wait to go to church (and perhaps sit toward the front when they get there)???

I'd love it if you could write me here to share what is going on in your congregation re: renewal, evangelism, use of church space and property, music and worship that has put a spark into your spiritual life. If you don't mind sharing your name and parish, that would be great! The address as always: Looking forward to your mail!

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p.s. also, related to my posting last week, had a trip to the doctor and am now "free and clear" of the colon cancer. They caught it early. Will have frequent check ups for the next year, but other than that, my job now is to live thankfully one day at a time, look forward to a grateful future and regain my strength (without doing my habitual over-booking!). Thanks very much for all your well-wishes and prayers.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The ministry of us all

Baptism is an amazing thing! We are taken into the family of God. With this comes an incredible inheritance and an incredible responsibility. We move into that special state known as relationship. No longer are we in a place of doing for each other, we move into being for each other - the transformation from my brother's "keeper" to my brother's "sister" or "brother". Sounds a bit redundant, but it is essential for us to underscore our relationship. Because we have a relationship - even to distant 'relatives' - we have history and a common denominator.

Please find here a song I wrote more than 10 years ago. I wanted to thank the witness of my friend and musical mentor Frank Santo and also convey enthusiasm in ministry to the first crop of deacons in the Diocese of New York that I had gone through training with.

Click here for the song: "Lead Me Out"

Feel free to use it in your congregation when this lectionary comes up (in Epiphany, as I recall) or to tap into the ministry of the entire body of Christ - the Church. I don't ask for royalties... just give an accredation.

Also... composers, musicians out there - I invite you to share original music that you use for youth events or marriages in your congregation - send it to me @ the usual mailbox: .

Whether it is the sheer magnitude of recovery in the lives of those killed or injured on Sept.11, 2001 in New York, Washington DC or Pennsylvania..... whether it is the magnitude of a tsunami in Christmastide 2004 or the magnitude of the wind and waters in the gulf in August 2005, we are called forth - one by one - to face the wall of devistation and, with God's help, to chip away at that wall. One by one, person by person, household by household, community by community. God is on our side, who then is against us?

Bring your songs, bring your strength, bring your compassion and donations and time in these days and months to come. Sometimes that helps us to become the living sacrifice we speak of in the covenant part of the Eucharist.... a living sacrifice, dedicated to God. Amen and Amen.

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