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Showing posts from June, 2015

Praying for Pastor

How to Pray for Your Pastor… 1. When you’re in a hurry: “Lord, Pastor ­­_________________!” God knows the needs of your pastor. Even a quick intervention deepens your spiritual commitment to your pastor’s well-being and your relationship with God. 2. When the pastor seems stressed: “Dear God, I’m not sure what’s happening with Pastor _________. I ask for your peace to surround him/her and for your presence to be felt and perceived. May amazing grace be evident to him/her in the week ahead.” Pastors often have lots on their minds- some things that are public and some things that are not. Families, plumbing, health issues, money, neighbors- pastors are people, too, and they need the prayers that they often pray for you! 3. When you are in disagreement: “Ruler of the universe, I give you thanks for your Holy Spirit who brings discernment and guidance to all people. I am grieved at the division in your church. I seek clarity from your written word and inspiration from the Livi

It Will Not Let Me Go

Litany for Internal Grief (Based on Psalm 51)

Have mercy on me, O God Great is your faithfulness in mercy and love. Mop up the overflow of my self-centeredness. Remove the stains of my irritations and desire for control. The definition of sin, beyond brokenness, eludes me, But I feel its real effects in my life. I know that I am not perfect My reach exceeds my grasp in recognizing the truth of my own humanness. Even when I know I have hurt family, friends, neighbors, and strangers Ultimately, I have sinned against you, O Lord, in what has been done and left undone. The grace that I dare to trust you to extend to me is nothing that I deserve. I could not earn it in fifty lifetimes. You desire truth and understanding. Any wisdom I may gain flows forth from your Spirit. Cleanse me by your own works and I shall be clean, indeed. Wash me with your own created elements and I shall be restored to wholeness. Create in me a clean heart- a renewed connection with the Source of All Good Open

Words Fail Me (But I Keep Talking)

This was my Facebook update today. It doesn't exactly apply to this space, which is less about my kids and more focused on specific truth-telling. Nevertheless, the sentiments apply. I wrote it out after prayerfully deciding to scrap the service plan and write laments and prayers and hymns for Sunday. ----- What to say, what to say.  I try to keep this space uplifting and hopeful. I keep it a space for truth telling. If it is going to be a space where I put up the pictures of my children, then it also has to be a space where I name the realities of the world in which they live. I want it to be better for them, for their friends, for the parents of their friends, for the people they'll never meet.  Frankly, my dears, it is exhausting.  I was told "turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace". I did. They haven't.  I can't sing, "It is well


Holy Mary, mother of a brown son, Mother who feared for his well-being, Mother who tasted terror when he left your side- Pray for us. Holy Mary, mother of a brown man, Mother who demanded his respect, Mother who knew the power of God- Pray for us. Holy Mary, mother of a brown rebel, Mother who tried to save him from himself, Mother who eyed the authorities as they drew near to him- Pray for us. Holy Mary, mother of a brown preacher, Mother who was stunned by his insight Mother who taught him how to listen to the word- Pray for us. Holy Mary, mother of a brown prisoner, Mother who grieved what would never be, Mother who feared for the life of one who you carried in your body and heart- Pray for us. Holy Mary, mother of a brown man killed too soon, Mother who held his broken body, Mother who howled to the heavens- Pray for us. Holy Mary, mother of a brown Incarnation, Mother who dared to hope in resurrection, Mother who whispered, "Let it be with me

The Prayer of the Trees

A prompt from Rachel Hackenberg : From the prophet Ezekiel: Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take a sprig from the top of a cedar; I will break off a tender twig from its uppermost branches and plant it on a high mountain. There it will grow into a noble cedar, producing branches and bearing fruit, and under it the creatures will burrow and in its shade the birds will nest. Then all the trees from field to forest will know that I am the LORD, who makes low trees tall and who cuts low the highest tree, who dries up the green trees and makes the dry trees flourish again. I am the LORD; I will do this.  (Ezekiel 17:22-24, adapted) Imagine the praise of the trees in the fields and the forests! Imagine the hope of the dry trees and the trembling of the tall proud trees! Imagine the prayer of the cedar sprig, newly planted and striving to grow! Breath of my breath and Core of my Being You made all things.  You know my weaknesses and my faults- The improper lines, the t

Come Thou Fount (A Prayer)

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, All good things pour forth from you and they become blessings in their own good time. The forces that oppose you disguise their work as your goodness, but their efforts crumble under your mercy and eternal love. You are the source of joy, the mouth of the river of life, the wellspring of the everlasting hope. Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; I long for my soul to dance to your music, to be harmonized with you at a cellular level. Your beat, O God, is the rhythm of the desert stillness and the rush of wind through swamp reeds. Bring me into calibration with your wild cacophony and make me euphonious with your creation.  Streams of mercy, never ceasing, The flow of your grace creates the geography of my life- the high banks, the refreshing pools, the place of reorientation when I am lost. I can perceive the edge of your plans for me, by meandering by the winding gurgling of the Water of Life.  Call for songs of loudest praise. Amen! A


Today (June 12) is my birthday. I'm renewing my baptismal covenant, both acknowledging what God has done for me that I cannot do for myself and also what my response is to that grace. In the next year, I will strive to • live among God’s faithful people; • hear the Word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper; • proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed; • serve all people following the example of Jesus; and, • strive for justice and peace in all the earth. And I ask God to help and guide me. 

Psalm 131: Thoughts

Psalm 131 was one of the selected readings for tonight's evening prayer. The New Revised Standard Version reads: O  Lord , my heart is not lifted up,   my eyes are not raised too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul   like a weaned child with its mother my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. O Israel, hope in the  Lord from this time on and forevermore.  There are beautiful images here. I feel subsumed in the image of "like a weaned child with its mother". When I hold my children in my lap, they are cradled against the breast that once fed them. They hear a heart beat that they knew in the womb, heard in the their first weeks, that beat near their ear as they fed, and that lulled them to sleep again and again. Though my youngest has been weaned for over a year, she still comes to my lap for stillness, for consolation, for a little rebirth. Leaning against my breast again is co

Future Tense

I'm currently at the Collegeville Institute in Minnesota for a writing workshop week. We are using building that once was called the Ecumenical Institute, where work to unite churches and faithful people was done with earnestness and great hope. Today is also the Feast Day for St. Columba, among others, who helped to bring the Christian faith and establish its roots in Scotland (and elsewhere in Britain). I have been to Iona Abbey, one of the monasteries associated with Columba. The pictures here are from Iona. Listening to crickets chirping, loons calling, and seeing an actual sunset out my window (doesn't happen in AK this time of year), I am thinking of those whose faithfulness makes our lives possible. God's provision for the future through the faithful is moving and provocative. What am I doing on a daily or even semi-regular basis that God may use to improve lives in the future? The reality is I may never know. But I remain committed to sharing the gospel, to

Check One

I was supposed to answer this question on a survey. What's the right box for the pastor?  All of the above, sometimes? None of the above?  I prefer not to answer in humility or out of pride?  Today I texted with an intern, wrote about racism, was quoted in the paper about Medicaid Expansion, prayed for the people I didn't see in church yesterday, parented my children, contained my temper in the grocery store because Jesus, thought about upcoming sermons, and wept over the divisions that cause pain in the Body of Christ, even in my own house. And that's on my day off.  I'm the Reverend Julia Seymour. You may call me Pastor. I'm a leader for order among a group of people who seek to live and die in Jesus Christ for the sake of the world. The work is amazing and infuriating and joyful and grieving. Which box covers that? 

McKinney, Texas

Scene: McKinney, Texas A white police officer yelling at black and brown teens, telling them to sit down, to leave, to get down, to disperse. Officer chases young black men. Officer forces black teenage girl to the ground, by her hair and neck, and then holds her there with his knee in her back. Teen girl has empty hands and is wearing a bikini. White adult males mill around and do not intervene with the officers or attempt to console and assist any of the teenagers present. Year: 1954   1968 2015 Today, I was thinking of the friends of the paralytic man in Mark 2. They couldn't get the healing, the help, the relief needed for their friend by getting him through the door. They couldn't wait for it to come to them. The option that seemed clearest was to tear the roof off the house. Rip up the clay, the leaves, the hardened mud, and straw. Rain down dirt clods and stick scraps on the (self) righteous leaders gathered below. Raise the roof and get this done. Now. The tim

Ask A Pastor Anything

In preparing for our church's booth for Anchorage Pridefest, we made this sign. It was meant to be more tongue-in-cheek than fundraiser. We laughed and even the church visitors who saw it chuckled. Once it was out of the church building, though, it didn't get many laughs. In fact, it received a lot of frowns. "I have a question," one guy said. "But I don't want to pay."  It occurred to me that many people who are outside of the church often assume the main motive of the church is to make money. We weren't winning friends here; we were ending conversations before they started. I covered the "pricing" with paper and tape. Once all that could be seen was "Ask a Pastor Anything", the questions flowed.  Today, I listened to the following questions, some accompanying stories, and did my best to represent a flawed institution and a perfect God. What does faith mean to you? What's a pastor? Do I have to

When You're Wrong

Hey, people of Westboro Baptist Church,  Greetings in the name of God, whom we seek to worship and glorify with our words and our works.  I acknowledge your right to be outside Beau Biden's funeral. You can say whatever you want there.  It's your right.  Just because it's your right, though, doesn't make it right.  You've articulated on your website ( that you feel the need to be outside at that funeral, shouting against the grieving people inside, because the Biden family, as Roman Catholics, will likely pray using the rosary and your congregation perceives that to be idolatry.  So, on June 6th, you think that the greatest use of your tax-free dollars and God-given energy is to scream about idolatry in the use of the rosary outside of a church wherein a funeral is being held for a 46-year-old husband, son, father, brother, and friend. Your "press release" quotes several passages about idolatry, including: 

Silvery Side

I once read that one could tell that it was going to rain by looking at the trees.  The shift in the breeze before a coming storm turned leaves over, their silvery undersides rippling against the brighter green of their siblings.  Even though I now live far from where I did when I first heard that, I still look for the silvery sides at the sky darkens, the air cools, and the air pressure changes.  Oh, if we could see the silvery sides of other things in the world, the turned over signal that means rain, hope, change, peace, help, healing, restoration is coming.  Slippery Spirit, sliding swiftly. Speaking softly. Subtly shifting. Silent shimmying.  The silver sides of the leaves of the world show your shadow.  Help me to see it and to turn my own silver side up to reveal your coming and going.  Amen.  Cross-posted at 


The Roman Catholic Ordination rite includes this phrase: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.” Since I have a low view of ordination- as in, it is for order for the sake of the church- I think this phrase might do well to be incorporated in baptism (a sacrament) or confirmation (not a sacrament). There should be a stage when we explain what it means to embrace God's mission, as we are able to perceive it through Jesus, and the church's call to participate in that missional work.  With the Word in hand, we read (in community, in context, in communion). We trust what we read. We live our questions. We share the insights we have received in the written word and through prayer and meditation. We practice what we have shared- together and as individuals in the world.  Receive. Trust. Share. Practice.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

Bad Choices

Our five-year-old is attending a Vacation Bible School program at another church this week. He went last year and loved it, so he's going again.  Today, afterward, I asked him what they did. He told me his schedule: games, science, snack, Bible story, crafts, music.  "What was the Bible story today?" I asked.  "It was about bad choices," he replied.  "Bad choices? Who made bad choices?" "Those two people, I don't remember their names. They lived in a garden."  "Adam and Eve." "Yes. They lived in a garden and God told them not to touch a special tree. But they made a bad choice when a snake tricked them. They touched the tree. God made them leave the garden, but God still loved them. If we make bad choices, God still loves us. "So the snake lied to Adam and Eve and they made a bad choice. God gave them a punishment, but God still loved them."  "Yes."  "Sounds

In the Offing

Due to our family choices of where to put our kids in school, I woke up at 6:20 every Monday of the school year and drove both kids into Anchorage to get our kindergartener to school at 9 am. Sometimes I would spend some of the day with the toddler or I'd take her to childcare and spend some time alone.  However, it also became easy to just go to work on what's as supposed to be my day off and get things done. Easily  enough conversations, writing, and meeting crept in and settled. It's been a very busy spring and I needed that extra time anyway.  Now, though, it's the second Monday of summer. It was a leisurely morning of snuggling, laughing, playgrounds, and waffles. I played, I napped, I read. I did think about work, but in a far less overwhelmed way.  Yesterday I preached on the Holy Trinity. In essence, I believe the doctrine is helpful to us in as much as it reveals the depth of God's own self and reminds us that we are not God, but we are in a privileged rela