Sunday, October 28, 2007

2 Sundays down 3 to go

So, this morning as the 2nd of the 5 Sundays. I was going to post last week with a report but just never got around to it. I guess I need to start getting better at regular posting very soon if I'm going to actually post every day in November.

So, first for last week. The service went very well, with positive feedback from a number of people. Here's an outline of the service:

Prelude - Be Thou My Vision arr. Albert Travis
Gathering Song - Gloria Peru
Welcome/Announcements and Passing of the Peace
Call to Worship and Opening Hymn
This was Be Thou My Vision with a responsive reading based on Psalm 24 weaved in between the verses. i.e. we spoke a few lines, sang a verse, said a few more lines, sang a verse, etc.
Prayer of Confession
Assurance of Forgiveness
Response of Praise - Give Thanks
Nicene Creed
Scripture (which we read all together in unison) Jeremiah 29:11-12
Anthem: "The Plans I Have for You" by (shoot, I can't remember right now)
Prayers of the People/Lord's Prayer sung by the congregation
Offertory statement
Offering: Give Thanks arr. Jan Sanborn
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Children's Message
Hymn - This Is My Father's World
Stewardship statement
Prayer for Illumination
Scripture - again, read in unison by the congregation: Psalm 24:1-2
Sermon: "At the Heart of our Faith"
Hymn: O Lord, You Are My God and King
Postlude: Carillon by Herbert Murrill

So - a couple of notes about this service. First, let me start out by saying that it would be my preference to have the offertory, prayers of the people and confessional statement after the sermon as a response to the Word. However, because the minister preaches at the 10:45 Contemporary service and the 3rd Traditional service starts at 11:00 he comes in late to that service and we can't get to the sermon any earlier than 30 min. into the service. which means we have to front load the whole service. I really don't like it and I keep fighting for us to come up with a better solution, but so far, no luck.
Back to the service - the Gloria Peru gathering song at the beginning is new. it's a really fun responsive song from Peru. We decided we wanted something at the very beginning of the service that really got people focused and together before we get started. Usually, noone listens to the prelude and it takes a little while for people to settle down and come together. So, this little, easy to sing, fun song helps to draw everyone together and focus on worship. I was a little nervous about people joining in, but they really did and many people reacted positively to it. We're doing it all 5 weeks, so they should know it well by then.

The Call to Worship/Hymn thing also worked well. On thing was that the choir processed as usual, but stopped at the end of each verse for the speaking parts which meant they were in the midst of the congregation longer which is a great thing. It also seemed to really set off the words of each verse of the song and the text of Psalm 24 dovetailed nicely with the hymn.

Since the scripture readings were short this day, they lent themselves well to being read in unison. And the fact that we read together the Jeremiah text before the anthem, and the anthem was the same text, I think helped people to listen to the anthem with more intentionality as opposed to just turning off their brains and hearing the pretty music.

Today's worship service, was quite different. There were many factors that played a part. It is Reformation Sunday, and this year a group of ladies made new Confessional Banners (9 in all) as the old ones were over 20 years old and looking like it. It was also our Sanctuary Dedication Sunday since we just recently renovated it - new paint, new floor, pews refinished, choir loft reoriented from a split chancel (men on one side, women on the other, facing each other) to the choir in a semi circle facing the congregation and the Table in front of the choir, and lots of other changes. Also, the minster didn't preach at the Contemporary service so we could put the offering and stuff wherever we wanted :). So, here's what happened this morning:

Prelude: Be Thou My Vision arr. Mary K. Sallee
Gathering Song: Gloria Peru
Call to Worship from the back of the sanctuary: The Elder for that service knocked on the door and said: "Open to me the gates of righteousness, and I will go in and worship the Lord." The the head Deacon for the service opened the door and the Elder walked in and said "Peace be to this house and to all who worship here. Peace be to those that enter and to those that go out. Peace be to those that love it and love the names of Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us Worship God"
Processional Hymn: God is Here! - this procession included the Christ Candle 9 banners, the Elder, the Liturgist, the Chancel Choir and the Children's Choirs. LOTS OF PEOPLE!
Prayer of Confession
Assurance of Forgiveness
Response of Praise: Give Thanks
Anthem: Come Christians Join to Sing - with the Chancel Choir, the Children's Choirs, organ and trumpet.
Children's Message
Stewardship Statement - the speaker this morning did a fantastic job. So much so, she got applause at the 11:00 service! She really spoke from the heart, and gave a beautiful testimony.
Prayer of Illumination
Scripture Reading: Romans 1:1-17
Sermon: "This Very Place" (wow! what a sermon it was)
Affirmation of Faith using an excerpt from the Barmen Declaration
Sanctuary Dedication - we recognized the people who gave of their time and resources to make it all happen, including the banner ladies, and then had a responsive prayer of dedication.
Offertory - Highland Cathedral with organ, piano, timpani, orchestral chimes and 3 bagpipers. It brought the house down!
Prayer of Thanksgiving

Hymn: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Postlude - Bagpipers.

So - 2 down, 3 to go. And lots more work before it's all over. Starting Thursday, you can expect a post every day from me!

Friday, October 19, 2007


November is National Blog Posting Month and I have decided to take on the challenge of posting every day for a month. When you are finally able to stop laughing... I'll go on... :)

No, seriously, I'm really going to try this. Here's my reasoning. Beginning now, I've got to start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, really) and writing this thesis. I'm almost through with the project portion, and now the fun begins of actually writing the paper. I say "fun" with a hefty dose of sarcasm. Writing is really not that easy for me, as you've probably already noticed. However, it just has to be done. So, I figure if I take this challenge, then I'll have to write something every day and I can just post here what I write. Honestly, it will probably be VERY boring for you to read. And some days it may be just one sentence. But, I am determined to get this done!

The project has been immensely satisfying, surprising, bless-ful, and better than I ever imagined. Sunday morning is the first of the 5 planned Sundays. I'm more than a little nervous about it, but everyone keeps reassuring me that it will be just fine.

So, now the writing begins. I'm gonna post every day of November. it's not quite November just yet, so I have a little more time to try and talk myself out of it. Wish me luck :)

Jack's Roast Chicken and Potatoes

It seems that my description of my husband's roast chicken made everyone hungry. So, I asked him to dictate the recipe to me. He wants me to tell you at the start that he is not a very scientific cook, he does most things by feel. And he rarely writes things down. So, you won't find to many exact measurements in this recipe. I was also surprised to discover that he doesn't preheat the oven. I double checked that with him and he said you can if you want, but he usually doesn't for this dish. So, feel free to modify however you want. Yummm... I'm hungry.

1. Take 1 whole chicken, remove innards, cover the chicken in salt water and brine overnight.

2. Remove chicken from salt water and pat skin dry. Let the chicken air dry for 30 min.

3. Stuff inside chicken roughly 2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed rosemary, 1 onion quartered.

4. Drizzle over chicken 3 tablespoons of olive oil and smear on more crushed rosemary and kosher salt.

5. Cube (about half inch squares) 3 to 4 potatoes (your choice on kind of potato) and 2 sweet potatoes and place in a large cookie sheet. Drizzle half a cup of olive oil. Sprinkle rosemary, half a clove of finely chopped garlic, and a whole coarsely chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste.

6. Place cookie sheet on bottom rack of oven and the chicken directly on the rack above the cookie sheet and set the oven at 370. Cook until chicken is done - approx. 1 hour for a medium size chicken.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Friday Five: Homage to the Top Chef!

Today's Friday Five (on Thursday night) is brought to us by RevHRod at You Don't Have to Listen, I Just Like to Talk.

This Fall my family has been energetically watching Top Chef on the Bravo channel. My teenage daughter watches with the dream of some day being a chef. My husband watches because he loves reality shows and I mean, really loves them. Plus the whole competition thing really works for him. Me, I love cooking and good food. Every so often I get an idea from this group of talented young chefs who are competing for big money and honors galore.

The winner for this season was Hung. Not the fan favorite, but he won fair and square. In his bio, he says if he were a food "I would be spicy chili - it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more!" With that in mind, here is this week’s Friday Five.

  1. If you were a food, what would you be? Ice Cream - but a kind that would be the real honest to goodness ice cream, but miraculously fat and sugar free. I like to make people happy and that seems to me to be the best way!

  2. What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where? Many come to mind for various reasons, ranging from the fabulous to the ridiculous, but the first one I thought of was a meal Jack and I had on our honeymoon. We went to Disneyworld cause we're silly like that. They have this incredible restaurant in the Safari resort. The cuisine was not really "African" per se; it would be rather difficult to encompass an entire continent and countless different languages and groups of people in one menu. But, the food was quite incredible. I can't even remember what it was we ate, I just know it was incredible. What I do remember was the wine. We had a bottle of Culrathian (I think that's the name) Serah. Wow! What a wine. It's a South African wine and we can't find it anywhere. The other thing that made that meal fabulous was the fact that it was with my husband. There's nothing quite so wonderful as a meal with my sweetheart. :) (you can stop gagging now.)

  3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood? My grandmother's fried okra. I was THE. PICKIEST. EATER. EVER! as a kid. I wouldn't eat anything for fear I would choke and die. But, I would eat okra. Yeah, I know, I'm a freak. I still don't like milk on my cereal and am still a little afraid that anything from the sea might choke me.

  4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit? I don't cook. there's nothing I could possibly bring that would be a hit. Now, my dear sweet husband, on the other hand could make any number of things and they would be a hit. My favorite is his baked chicken that we brines overnight, then stuffs with garlic cloves and other fun stuff. Then, he sets it directly on one rack in the oven and puts a cookie sheet underneath filled with cubes of potatoes (sweet and regular), onions and more garlic cloves. YUMMY!

  5. What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate? Seriously? Not a thing! Nope, things that I have not tried before have the potential to choke me. This stems (I believe) from when I was an infant and everything I would eat other than breast milk would make me swell up. My poor mom had to breast feed me till I was well past 2 until I outgrew the allergies. I'm sure that's where this irrational fear of food comes from. I'm 34 now, I'm afraid it's not really going away too soon.
Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal? when I'm really thirsty and hungry - Dr. Pepper. But, for a great meal, like with courses and yummy steak and dessert and a high bill at the end... A glass of really good red wine - not too dry, but not sweet, with a hint of pepper.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Game time

Tripp over at Conjectural Navel Gazing played this game, and it sounds like fun. So, I'm playing too.

I promise to send a physical, tangible gift to the first 5 people who post on my blog and promise to do the same on their own blogs.

Let's spread some joy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'm so neglectful

Please forgive my recent blog neglect. Life's just been a little bit busy. After the team's first planning retreat at the end of September, I took a thesis break for a couple of weeks as I prepared for and then went on a short mini-tour with the family. We did a show in Duncanville and Midland (both in Texas). Then, I came back and have just been so totally focused on our first Sunday back in the church, that I took another week of unintentional thesis break. We've been out of our sanctuary since June as it was in dire need of renovation. This morning was our first Sunday back, and boy have I missed the organ. It was a glorious Sunday indeed, with lots of music and lots of oohing and ahhing over the new paint, floor, refinished pews, reoriented chancel, etc.

As for the thesis - here's where it stands:

We've had our 6 weeks of study and training, as well as our 2 weekend planning retreats. Everything has been really successful. The people in this group have surprised me at every turn and watching them get so excited about planning a worship service is inspiring to say the least. The 5 services are planned with a few extra details to take care of. They still have to pass approval from the Senior Pastor and I imagine there will be things he'll nix. I hope not too much, though. The 5 Sundays begin this next week, and so if he's going to change anything, it better happen tomorrow. Once we get bulletins put together, I'll post them on my google page and link them here so you can see what our plans are.

I spent some time going over the first two services with the pastor this last week and he asked me if I thought the group had planned anything that was really 'out there' or had taken some big risks. And, I said that i didn't think they had at all. It seems to me what they have planned is not a whole lot of innovation. Rather, they've taken what we usually do and enhanced the level of congregational participation. For example, the calls to worship are more involved than just the minister saying a couple of words; there is a lot more unison scripture reading; on All Saints day, in addition to coming forward for communion, people will have an opportunity to light a candle for a loved one who has died; the bulletins for the 5 weeks are coordinated and include more art work in an effort to draw attention to themes and phrases that people should be watching for; a children's bulletin will be designed to pull the children into the action of the service; etc. There's nothing too radical for this congregation - just more focused on their participation. Which is exactly. what. i. had. hoped. for!!! :).

I didn't want them to innovate just for the sake of innovation. But, they have been incredibly creative. Another great little bonus is they all have commented on how they had no idea that putting together a worship service was so much work! I told them that really it can be as little or as much as you want to put into it.

So, now, the Sundays will happen, then we'll evaluate and I'll be a writing fiend for the next 4 months. Oh, and I don't have a choice about my deadline now. I have to turn in my paper on March 1st because I'M GOING ON THE REVGALBLOGPALS CRUISE!!! March 27th, baby! I'm so excited to meet so many of these wonderful ladies. But, by plunking down my deposit, I absolutely have to be done by then. I'll turn in the final draft (approved by my adviser) to the thesis director on the 1st and then have until the 27th to make revisions. I'm not sure how long I have after that to do the formating. I just want to have that call from Dr. B before I leave on the 27th that says, "Congratulations Dr. Stewart, you're approved."

Ok, no more neglect from me, I promise. And no more 'thesis breaks.'