By the Rev. Susan
American essayist Annie Dillard said, “Spend the afternoon. You
can’t take it with you.”
About 30 women leaders in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod spent a
morning and an afternoon — and they did take it with them.
They met for a day of reflection and took from the day a freshness for
ministry plus a continuation of friendships.
Gathered at Union Lutheran Church, Schnecksville, for what has become
an annual event, women clergy began the morning with devotions led by
Deaconess Deborah Matern Graf, with musical support from Associate in
Ministry Linda Maule. Each woman was reminded of how the Spirit nourishes
seeds of faith as she was handed a colorful dirt-filled pot and a mystery
seed, which was pushed into the fertile seed “home.”
After the seed was sprinkled with water from the baptismal font, the
different shaped and sized containers were carefully arranged on a table,
looking like baby birds waiting patiently for the return of a feeding
parent. I enjoyed the time to reflect quietly as we prepared to listen
to Barbara Lundblad.
The day retreat was entitled Book-Marked: Clergywomen and the
Word. The Rev. Barbara Lundblad, associate professor of preaching
at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, reminded us how we might
mark the book and how the book marks us. She guided us as we looked critically
at some texts and found surprises in the Gospels. We continued with a
discussion of images in preaching.
After a break where we could choose between discussions on specific topics
or wander on our own in the sunshine, Deborah Appler, associate professor
of Hebrew Bible at Moravian Seminary, led us on a who’s who of
women in the Bible. From the Shunamite woman in 1 Kings to Orpah to Zipporah,
the women we explored were ones in Scripture we usually overlook.
Much too soon, we gathered for the closing devotions and were reunited
with our containers with the planted seeds.
In appreciation for the gathering
of women leaders who share, encourage and gather in Christ’s name,
we look forward to the next annual women clergy gathering.