About Emily

midwestern belle, Episcopal priest.

What do we mean when we say, “He descended to the dead”?

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In a bit of a jab at my bishop and my diocesan communications director, who assigned an impossibly obtuse phrase of our Apostles Creed, I have composed on the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas blog a post which uses The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail as its primary texts to explicate this affirmation.  find it HERE

(image via)

Sermon, Last Sunday of Lent

IMG_1081Today’s sermon preached at St. A’s, the raising of Lazarus and Grandpa Chuck’s death.

Sermon Audio

It is because of my grandfather’s death that I stand before you this morning.

During a particularly difficult moment in my ministry, my grandpa Chuck, after whom Charles is named, fell ill and breathed his last. We were living in South Carolina at the time, far from snowy Minnesota, but I still visited him a few times in his last weeks and was even there to give him last rites the day he died.

Back home, I was struggling with my call, feeling stonewalled at every turn, denied at every door, frustrated with pouring so much effort into what seemed like a bottomless chasm. It was more than exhaustion, or a period of thankless plowing through; I was suffocating, like a flame submitted to a snuffer, gasping for enough air to keep breathing. In some ways my depression felt very much like death. Continue reading

the tidiness of yoga

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We moved almost two months ago, and while the cardboard boxes were more-or-less emptied and banished from the house within the first week (not a coincidence that we had 8 days before starting our jobs!), on both the packing end and the emptying end, I did a lot of dumping into boxes, and then shoving into drawers or closets or bins.

I realized I didn’t have to process everything at exactly the moment it was presented to me. There is simply too much to organize and make decisions about and let go of to approach the process linearly — plowing through each item intentionally on the front end, or on the back end. Marie Kondo and I differ on this point.

Instead, I processed the things that really, really needed to be dealt with immediately — the boxes of dishes and pantry staples — and surrendered a few extra drawers and some closet space (okay, an entire closet) to “stuff to be dealt with later.” If you’re a born-and-bred pack rat, this method might not work, but I’ve learned from yoga that you can deal with things as you’re ready. A moment or chance will come when the urge to organize strikes, or when you’ve got a bit of energy and are seeking some order, or when an anniversary reminds you of something more emotional or spiritual that you’re now ready to sort through.

And those chances don’t just come around once. If you’re attentive, they keep coming around. Yoga taught me that it’s okay to shove things into drawers, both physically and emotionally; it’s okay to choose not to deal with it right now and to trust that at another point, you may be ready to face what’s been put in the dark for a little while.

For whatever mystical reason, that day was today for me. Interspersed with naps (32 weeks pregnant & 100-degree heat makes for low-energy conditions), I finished my dresser drawers and organized my plans for the closet. In the intervening 8 weeks, I’ve learned more about how I use the space in this new home, so I’ve been better able to decide where to put these objects without a permanent resting place.

Maybe it’s the same in our lives, too — when we give ourselves time to process events, emotions, and relationships, we gain perspective and wisdom while we wait.

image via mgstanton

Jesus’ Dishonest Steward

Parables and moral stories have been told as long as there have been people who need to learn right from wrong. We know well the fairy tales: Cinderella, who is faithful in her work despite its injustice, is rewarded with a charming prince; in the Grimms Brothers’ stories, disobedient children are eaten and faithful children escape harm.

Jewish folklore was no different, it followed similar rules — just like all over the ancient world, you always bet on the oldest son, people who are less fortunate deserve it, the rich are winners, and the poor better be as faithful as they can.

The stories of Israelite patriarchs in our Old Testament upend these sensibilities — Jacob, the younger son, even the trickster, ends up winning the birthright of God’s blessing and becoming the father of many nations. Job’s friends know he must have done something really, really bad to deserve the horrible calamities that befall him — but we learn from reading Job’s story that his conduct was all faithfulness, his misfortune not a result of bad behavior. The God of Jacob and Job is a different sort of God than the world had ever seen. Continue reading

Constance & Her Companions

2355585789_56e371cfcd_zDelivered on the occasion of the Holy Eucharist for the Episcopal Church Women meeting at St. Augustine’s, 9 September 2016. Remembering Constance & Her Companions. 

This morning I want to share a witness of God’s gracious provision during a dying season in my own life.

Constance and her companions, the Martyrs of Memphis, were called to real bodily sacrifice out of love. This is one of the ways that God calls us; God also calls us to dying to ourselves, as our Gospel passage from last Sunday outlined, and dying to our own conceptions and assumptions and identities about ourselves, as I preached on a few weeks ago.

While I was working at the Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, I entered a period of depression. Continue reading