As my academic year comes to an end at Epworth as the pastoral intern, I find that I have been doing the Marie Kondo. To do the Marie Kondo sounds like a dance Fred and Ginger did in Top Hat or Springtime. Yet that seems to be the idea behind it all. We should be rich in experiences and not things. Rich experiences are the ones we share. Now that May is upon us I will share my pastoral intern experiences with you. The first is in writing weekly liturgies which will later be published as the Epworth Chronicles. The focus of these liturgies is for use in lectio divina.
Streets of Paris is an example of this work: Twenty Second Sunday After Pentecost CALL TO PRAYER Peace be with you. And also with your spirit.
READING of the SCRIPTURE: Psalm 91:9-16* The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
LITANY for the STREETS OF PARIS “Those who love me, I will deliver;* I will protect those who know my name.”* And Marie told me: “It is scandalous, Monsieur Caillebotte is quoting the psalmist!” Yes that is the two of us, strolling Along the Carrefour de Moscou in Caillebotte’s painting. “With long life I will satisfy them.”* . Perhaps that will be true a hundred years hence For I suspect the artist Has internalized the psalmist That his brush Is also the hand of his faith. Amen
CANTICLE for the STREETS of PARIS Gracious and loving God, You know us as Auguste and Marie Parisians know us As the couple in the Rainy Day painting We had just passed by the Gare Saint-Lazare For Monet was painting there, quietly And Marie Your devoted daughter Who frequents Notre-Dame Quoted the psalm spoke by Caillebotte. Monet’s eyebrows furrowed Deeply into the canvas “When they call to me, I will answer them;* I will be with them in trouble,* I will rescue them and honor them,”* Monet replied to her Completing his friend’s thought For we were all old friends. Marie, stalwart, recondite of manner surprised us “With long life I will satisfy them,* And show them my salvation.”*
For now She too was a part of this conversation.
Looking at Monet, I knew his desire To paint this last cityscape The billowing train station, In the manner of Turner And then to turn, In his own life, toward painting And living, in the country.
Gracious God, Grant that we the subjects of art Are your design for living Just as your artists, Know your words and embed them, In the hermetics of their canvas. And we, Marie and I Now forever sketched into a cityscape We too Long for the countryside For simple pleasures, In the company of these friends When wine will be on our lips, That portal of conversation and song We will dine in the amber light Of late afternoon Into the night of colored lanterns Our shared hearts will hear In that place of refuge, Your words, Those who love me,* I will deliver.*
THE REFRAIN Grant that we the subjects of art Are your design for living Know your words and embed them, “With long life I will satisfy them * And show them my salvation.”*
THE LORD’S PRAYER Amen
LECTIO DIVINA Scripture, Litany, Canticle, Refrain
A second focus area has been in facilitating small groups. Our Sunday morning group that meets before worship has faithfully explored the scripture. We are always left at the end of that session wondering how our interpretation will match that of the pastor? Another group is Spiritual Formation which has met weekly all during the academic year except for the Christmas break. In this group we have used the Companions of Christ text which has challenged us and at times we have challenged the text. It has been a remarkably rich and inviting conversation. The third group has been a film ministry where we meet monthly to watch a popular film that has a broad but unique spiritual theme. The purpose of this activity has been to foster fellowship and conversation for our members and people from the community. Below is a list of our films. We started with a film from Sweden, featuring the cantankerous character Ove. We finish with a film from France, with the chaos provoking M. Hulot, which is Jacques Tati’s masterpiece. Take a moment and open the film links to preview the film(s).
A Man Called Ove
The Man Who Invented Christmas /about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol
Maudie /one of Canada’s most famous folk artists
A Quiet Passion /about Emily Dickinson
Paterson /Inspired by the poetry of William Carlos Williams
M. Hulot’s Holiday
A third focus has been the Special Session of the General Conference which I attended as a student in the Immersion Class at PSR but also as a member of Epworth. What I mean by focus here is a gradual understanding of the Traditionalist position, largely through the ecclesiology of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. Essentially I find them to have wandered from their Wesleyan roots to that of an embryo Calvinist denomination. As a Progressive Methodist I am looking and will actively work toward a New Methodist Church, that will finally break away from a long history of institutional discrimination. A fourth and final focus has been providing spiritual direction, which I also provided last year at Half Moon Bay, UMC. Spiritual direction, spiritual formation, lectio divina and the Examen prayer are all user friendly and have a place in new beginnings. We Methodists are in that place of new beginnings and my hope is that you will pursue these activities beyond Sunday worship. I am thankful for Pastor Kristin, for the insightful and rich conversations we have had on a weekly basis- often mixed with humor and at times pathos. Carletta Aston, John Schweizer and Pat Bruce-Lerrigo have met with me on a monthly basis as a Teaching Parish Team. I am grateful to them for taking on this consulting role, for their guidance and unique ability to provide contextual oversight in this Advanced Field Education class at PSR. Their work has been a gift of the Holy Spirit. Lately I find I am being asked what I will do after my time at Epworth comes to a close? What I plan to do is is being in private practice as a spiritual director. I will carry the rich experience with me. In the meantime, I will see you in church.
-faithfully, Bill Miller