Tag Archive: ELCA


For Times of Transition

On Wednesday, February 20, my classmates and I will will find out to which regions (there are nine in the country) we have been assigned as future pastors in the ELCA.  This is the first step in actually being called to serve in a congregation.  After regions, we’ll hear from bishops, letting us know to which synod we’ve been assigned (there are 65 synods, and each synod is like a diocese).

It’s an exciting time, pondering where we may be serving in just a few short months.  In what area of the country will we be?  What will the congregation be like?  What opportunities will we have? What challenges will we face?  Where will we live? What if it’s not at all what we’re expecting?  What if we are called to a place we don’t like? What if we’re called to the place we preferenced, but it’s not a good fit?  The questions and speculations seem endless.  And it’s tiresome.

My theme song for the past few weeks has been Phillip Phillips’ “Home.”  This song really makes me want to drive with all my windows down on a beautiful day.  It also makes me want to stomp my feet, clap and dance at some kind of folksy pub music night.  I think both are appropriate!

But beyond the driving, boot-stomping beat, Phillips’ soothing voice and the oddly fitting cross-country road trip video, I also just plain love the lyrics at this stage in my life:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

I feel like I’m holding my breath before the next big step and listening to this song, I hear reassurance and the promises of God coming through these poppy, folksy lyrics.  My road is unfamiliar, but I need not feel alone, because I have a whole bunch of wonderful family, friends, fellow seminarians and sisters and brothers in Christ supporting me – just as I am supporting and praying for them.  And the God who has called me to this unfamiliar road is paving the way, leading me ahead, one step at a time.

The line, “settle down, it’ll all be clear,” helps me to remember to be still and to trust God (Psalm 46:10), or in the words of Cheri O’Teri on Saturday Night Live, to “simma down now!”  I’m reminded to take a break from worrying about what the future will hold and to enjoy the present, knowing that all will be revealed and I shouldn’t get into a tizzy about something that hasn’t even happened yet!

And about all those demons – the demons of worry, anxiety, stress, and doubt about my ability to actually do this – they just fill me will fear and make me forget how far God has brought me in the past few years.  They make me forget that God loves working through (and has chosen to work through!) normal people to bring about God’s kingdom.  Just as God worked through sinners, deniers, murders and all sorts of broken people in the past, God continues to do so today.  And God can work through me too 🙂

And even if I get lost along the way and make mistakes, there will always be the voice of God directing me back to the right road, embracing me in forgiveness and abundance grace.

So wherever we end up, I trust that God will make that place a home.  I trust that I will be given what I need to serve God’s people with compassion and faith.  To walk with them and pray with them.  To teach them and learn from them.  To preach God’s word and to hear them speak God’s word from their lips.  To administer the sacraments of baptism and holy communion and to worship with a new community of people.

I’m just praying that I remember to hold on to God as we go.  I’m just praying that I remember that my energy, strength and ability to serve find their source in God’s loving heart.  I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will keep the cross of Christ always clearly in my sight.  I’m praying and holding on for dear life as we leap into this next adventure!

© 2013. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

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On Story

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about stories.  I have always loved stories, whether diving into one in a good book and feeling a sense of melancholy when it comes to an end, being captivated by movies, or listening to my grandparents tell me about their childhoods.  Stories have a way of drawing us in and helping us to see ourselves through other means.

Now, one of the things I love most about being a vicar (an intern in the ELCA, learning how to be a pastor) is having the incredible opportunity to listen to people’s stories.  I hear their stories about their past, as well as about what is going on in their lives now.  I also have the amazing chance to hear about how God’s story is a part of their lives and about how they are a part of God’s story in the world.  I have been blessed to be able to recall and share my own story with others, and to be greatly enriched by their stories.

Today, on David Lose’s website, In the Meantime, I ran across a video of Ken Burn’s speaking about story – I commend both Lose’s website as well as this video to you.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who has been thinking about stories lately!

Thinking about all of this, I’d like to put some questions to you:

  • What’s your story?  People may object, saying that they’re not very interesting people or that they’re just “normal” or “average,” but I disagree – I’ve found that everyone has a story and that each is unique and has something to teach us.
  • Whose stories have you learned from in the past?  Whose stories have shaped the way you think about the world?  About life?  God? Relationships? About who you are?
  • Who can you invite to tell their story this week?  People don’t often have someone who is willing to listen to their story and so it goes untold or neglected.  Let’s invite people to share by be willing to listen and to speak about our own stories.

How could paying attention to stories change the way we look at ourselves and one another?  I’m not sure, but I’m interested in finding out!  If you take on these questions, please post your comments about how the experiment went.  And for more stories, check out NPR’s StoryCorps.  Enjoy 🙂

© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

Shameless Self-Promotion!

In trying to stick to my own devotions in spite of a busy schedule, I thought I would try my hand at writing daily prayers.  The prayers are written with the ELCA’s daily Bible readings as well as current events in mind.  I’ve been doing my best to post the prayers by 2:00 pm each day, but sometimes…well, life happens! 😉

In any case, the prayers can be found at Prayers on the Go: Daily Prayers for Busy People.  It is my hope (and indeed my prayer!) that these prayers might invite and encourage people to discover the joys of conversation with God.  Use them as a jumping off point for discovering or deepening your own prayer life.  As always, I welcome your feedback!

Two weekends ago, I saw Toy Story 3 with my fiancé and my youngest brother. This was after a wonderful day spent playing soccer (football to the rest of the world!) and hanging out. When I paused to think, I found myself feeling like I was re-living my middle and high school days. You see, most of that time in my life was spent playing soccer and helping to coach my brothers’ soccer teams. In addition, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 were movies we all watched a lot. I think we may have even had most of them memorized! 😉

In any case, I started to reflect on how busy life has become now that I’ve “grown up” and how marvelous it was to let loose and play. Life is full of to-do lists and responsibilities, and can feel quite overwhelming and hectic, but what if we made time for having fun like we made time for responsibilities? What if our to-do lists included built-in relaxation and play time?

I wish my to-do list looked like this!

And what if we totally let go and just enjoyed ourselves, forgetting other people were watching?:

Stress is known to cause physical ailments and even to shorten lifespans, but play, relaxation and laughter reduce stress. In seminary and CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), we talk about self-care frequently – how to keep the various aspects of our lives (physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, relational, etc.) in balance so that we do not burn out. In the ELCA, we have the “Wholeness Wheel” to keep us on track. While juggling these components may seem intimidating, being mindful of each of them and trying to be attentive to each area even if only for 10-15 minutes a day can help us pay attention to the whole picture.

I love to keep busy and be productive, but as I go through life, I’m realizing how important it is to play and to carve out time to have fun. It refreshes the soul and renews the spirit. It re-energizes us and fills us with joy so we can go out and do our work to the best of our ability. If we don’t take time to enjoy life, we become run down and are ultimately less effective. Having fun plans also gives us something to look forward to when we feel trapped in the mundane routines of life.

In short, it’s beneficial to spend time as we did when we were children: playing 🙂 So in the words of Woody from Toy Story, “So play nice!” Oh, and go see Toy Story 3 – it’s awesome!

© 2010. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

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