Friday, July 14, 2017

Keep Me Humble

On Sunday, I stood before clergy, my family, my friends, my congregations and the people of my flock and made promises. I promised to hear and accept the word of God, I promised to be diligent in my private prayers and reading of scripture, I promised to be zealous in speaking the truth in love, I promised to be faithful in preaching, teaching and administering sacraments, and in exercising pastoral care and leadership, I promised to keep silent all confidences, and I promised to regard all people with equal love. I made all of these promises relying on God’s grace.

But before I could make these promises, I spent three-and-a-half years proving I was worthy of God’s call upon my life. And prior to those three years I spent a couple of years running away from God and telling myself and others that I wasn’t special enough.
Though I can understand why we must truly be certain this is a true calling from God and not some personal agenda, this process also made me understand why I have encountered pastors struggling with their ego. When you spend the beginning of ministry trying to prove to others that you are prepared to do God’s work, it’s difficult to be humble.

However, this week spent on the other side has been humbling. I thought that my emotions would calm down and my tears would dry up. Instead I am in awe of the work I get to do and who I get to work with. These amazing people who picked me out of eighty-eight possibilities. The people who love and support me before I even officially become their pastor. These beautiful people who are full of excitement and hope chose me to lead them in God’s work. Five years ago, I would never have guessed my journey would bring me to this point. 

God, I beg of you, keep me humble. Amen. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Gone by a Bullet

Last night my twelve-year-old son crawled in bed with me. For him, that happens, well like, never. The night before, our community yet again was hit by gun violence. This time, my son’s middle school classmate was killed. We knew yesterday morning that a twelve-year-old was killed, but we didn’t know if the boy attended the same school. My husband told our son on the way to school that a boy was shot and killed. The first words my son said to me when he got home from school was, “he was in my science class.”

My son is angry, sad and scared. Angry that his middle school only had a moment of silence; angry over the taking of precious life. He is angry that our community has become so use to violence that this tragedy will just be added to the pile. He is sad for the life not lived and for the parents and family that are in great despair. And he is scared that there is no safe place for him or anyone. 

My son's words were so mature, so full of emotion. I told him it was a good time to express himself in song. He got on the computer to create his music. He made the track and then could not find the words to rap. Maybe he will find the words in the next couple of days.

As a mother and a pastor, this tragedy has brought me to my knees. Last night we prayed, thanking God for the boy’s life and love that he brought to his family. We asked God for peace and strength for the boy’s family, the middle school students and for my son. Today I will finish my sermon for Sunday about prayer. After last night, I’m not sure what to say. Yes, pray, but at this point, pray and get to work. This violence has to stop. Now more than ever, we need to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus Christ. We must be one people as God intended. In John 17:11, Jesus prayed for us, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

This boy’s death is not someone else’s problem, not someone else’s tragedy. It is our tragedy, humanity's tragedy. Whether we admit it or not, we are all connected. We are all one. We must be God’s witness in this world. Our witness must be one of community and love. We have a lot of work to do.

Now, let’s pray and get to work.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beginning the Search

Dear Search Committee,

Welcome to my blog! I hope this page will help you get a sense of who I am and will be a tool for your discernment in your search for pastoral leadership. This blog was originally created as an assignment for my public theology course at Chicago Theological Seminary. Most of the early posts were subjects that were assigned by my professor. I have continued to blog occasionally as time allows. I have kept up with my sermon links so you have all the newest sermons available. If you are viewing from a mobile device, you will have to scroll down and click view web version for access to my sermon links.

Some of my outside interests are singing and playing tennis. I am a trained first soprano, but I haven’t kept up with my voice as I should have. I will occasionally participate in choir, but I mostly just karaoke. I haven’t played tennis in a while either. I have participated in adult leagues in the past and my intentions are to get back into some kind of league or lessons. I love all kinds of tennis: singles, doubles and mixed doubles. I like to watch it on television and hope to get to be in the stands for the US Open someday.

I am a very busy mom and wife in a very sport centered family. My boys play baseball, football and basketball. My husband also coaches all three. If they are not playing sports, we are watching sports on TV.  My husband, however, is the only one who will watch tennis with me.

My blog name, Julie On the Creek was named because I was born into the United Church of Christ congregation, Spring Creek UCC. They have baptized and confirmed me, and they have encouraged and shaped me as I have been on the path towards God’s call. As I move forward in ministry, there will be a piece of them within me as I embrace a new congregation to grow in faith with.

May God lead us and guide us along the way….


Pastor Julie