Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Shack

Check out the new phenom in the Christian pop book world--not too Christian, not pop enough, and definitely a phenom. I enjoyed it: The Shack by William P. Young.

My review is at


Prayers for Knitting Preacher

Hello friends,

I'm not sure how widely this is known; J. J. had surgery Monday for a badly broken ankle, which now has 12-- count 'em!-- 12 pins in it. She is absolutely not to put any weight on it for 12 weeks. At present she is at the manse with her mom (her manse is not only three stories; it also is split level on the individual story). Later this week she goes to her mom's home for a month.

Prayers for our dear friend!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Any suggestions for EMI?

My coach is on the planning committee for EMI and he is looking for feedback/suggestions. The committee will be meeting soon to begin planning for next year. I know we filled out feedback forms, but if there is anything we have thought of in the meantime here is a way to let the planning team know. We can use the blog to do a communal kind of thing - maybe a bit of brainstorming on things we might want, topics to cover or ways to do things. Or if you like, you can send me your feedback via email.

I'm going to pass along the suggestion that they offer some alternative to going to a show in the city. Any ideas for what we might do instead?


Update on Jim's wife

Yesterday I learned that Jim's wife, Robin, suffered a stroke earlier in the week. The news is that it was a mild stroke and she is already in rehab. Jim is getting some relief from his duties at church as one of our colleagues, recently retired and worshipping at Jim's church, is handling some of his responsibilities.

Prayers arising for Jim and Robin.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Gag

I was invited to try my hand at writing gags for the comic strip B.C.

Check out the B.C. strip this Saturday, 24 May. It's my gag!


Monday, May 12, 2008


One of the things we talked about wanting to do was schedule a day in October for us to meet again and have a play-date/check in/something. I have agreed to coordinate the date.

However, I came home to a matriarch admitted to Hospice Care and have been consumed by that, the details of having been gone and getting ready to leave again, another person who had a heart attack etc etc. SO...

Pick a date or dates in October that might be good for you to run away for a day and hang out with friends and colleagues in a central location yet to be decided. Put it in the comments below. I'll check in in a few days (or maybe when I get back from the festival of homiletics) and see who has not responded and send out e-mails with the same request.

I am now going to take a nap.

Friday, May 9, 2008

This Ain't My Call

Here's the lamenting limerick we came up with at EMI--to the tune of the Sloop John B (Kingston Trio, Beach Boys).

My grandfather told me, I’d love the ministry
So to serve the people of God, I got my MDiv
I found before long, Grandpa was wrong
He never told me how much, I’d have to give.

I padded my resume, filled out my PIF
Told my EP I just can’t handle it all
I wanted to preach, the Bible to teach
If this is ministry, then this ain’t my call.

The Treasurer seems sedate but she borrows from the offering plates
And the elders for twenty years won’t set it aright
They just won’t say, she needs to pay,
‘Cause she knows where their husbands go on Friday nights

The choir’s at it again, they just won’t learn the new hymn
Choir director won’t plan in advance,
And old Mrs. Store, walked out the back door
The week we tried to include liturgical dance.

The Clerk came to Session drunk, and my lay leader’s in a funk
He thinks the King James is the only version that’s true
The elders agree, they won’t listen to me
They say that “thee” and “thou” are better than you

I gave a talk to the youth, and considered it uncouth
That while I spoke they texted all of their friends
They say they can hear, with buds in their ears
But I think their interest in me—is just for pretend.

PW’s in a row with the guys from Building and Grounds
‘Cause they painted the kitchen walls a shade of bright lime
A head’s gonna roll over all of this bull
Now I’m afraid, that head’s gonna be mine

I polished my resume, spat on my PIF
Told my EP these jerks can have it all
They won’t let me teach, or listen when I preach:
People of God, my ass! This isn’t my call.

Then in an evening drear, the Spirit showed me so clear
Jesus with a cross enduring all the world’s shame
He looked in my eye, and said with a sigh
How do you love without bearing some pain?

So I left my resume, shredded my PIF
Told my EP that push has now come to shove
Jesus I’ll preach, and grace I will teach
My ministry will be a labour of love


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Yet another prayer request

Prayers for Jim Poinsett and his wife Robin.

Our ep sent the following out to the presbytery today as a preface to her weekly prayer requests. Thought we'd want to know and support Jim and Robin in whatever ways we can.

"This morning, Jim Poinsett (Associate Pastor, Mt. Kisco), shared the sad news that his wife, Robin Theurkauf, has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer (the most recent prognosis is very hopeful after difficult but effective treatment). In his sermon, Jim proclaimed the wonderful Road to Emmaus story and then connected it with his own story - walking toward the unknown of cancer with fear and doubt and confusion. But he also talked about how he met the Risen Christ this week - through the ministries of strangers - who opened his eyes to the graceful possibilities of the Gospel.Last December Jim went on the presbytery Pastor's Trip to Nicaragua. There he met two pastors he did not know - Bill Weisenbach (Katonah) and Paul Lent (Freedom Plains). Since that trip, Jim has been meeting in a small pastor's group with Bill, Paul, and Ken Mast (Mahopac). This last Wednesday - before the more hopeful prognosis had been given - Jim met for prayer and conversation with these strangers-now-friends, and shared his sadness and terror about Robin's illness. Both Paul and Bill immediately told stories about parishioners in their congregations who had also suffered from esophageal cancer, but who have been cured with successful treatment.The next day one of those parishioners - a complete stranger - called Jim and Robin, told them what to expect in the weeks and months ahead, and gave them great hope. Eyes and hearts were opened - by the grace and wisdom of strangers - and Jim and Robin recognized Life before them."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More Prayers

Prayers for the Nineveh church (and her pastor) as she struggles to figure out building issues.

Prayers for Judy McNabb, struggling with diabetes.

Prayers for our little garden, that it may grow in the wonderful soil provided by the Lord.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!


Prayers For All of Us!

Hello friends. Let's see if we can't get this blog to do what it was intended to do: get us a little more connected in all our disparate locations, physical, emotional and spiritual.

I've had a couple of requests for prayer come my way, so I'm putting them out here, with an invitation to you do come along and add yours, so that we may all be in prayer for one another.

For Sarah, recovering from emergency gall bladder surgery.

For Nancy, dealing with overwork and understaffing.

For Leslie, in the throes of home-purchasing-closing-occupying.

For Julie, surrounded by more than one pastor's share of death and dying this week.

For all of us, Holy Week looming ahead and inviting us to share in the passion and resurrection of Christ in ways expected and unexpected.

Others? Bless you all, friends.

Pat/ Mags

Friday, December 21, 2007

I thought I'd share with you my sermon for this Sunday. The lectionary Psalm is 80, which is both a lament and a call to hope.

"Let the Son rise again on Christmas"

When gifts grow expensive and money grows tight
In a world growing hard to afford,
And more than a bandage of lead-painted toys
We wish for a hope shining bright

Remember the life that was given for free:
A baby born eons ago.
His wealth we inherit and kingdom we own
By faith we gain eternity.

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

As years of success become lost days of old
When main street with dreams was aglow
When milking brought profits and work better pay
Yet now children flee from the cold

Remember the glory that does not depend
On anything built with our hands
And trust in the one who comes down from above
To bring ev’ry woe to an end.

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

When souls weep with sorrows no doctor can hear
And limbs cry with voices of pain
As bills stack up higher than letters and cards
And hope seems a debtor to fear

Remember our master whose touch cures the ills
Of everyone who would draw near:
Lord Jesus our saviour, physician, and friend,
All cups of desire he fills.

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

When mem’ries fade slowly in sepia tones
And bright crowns of youth turn to grey
When dreams of the rest at the end of this race
Preserve us from dining alone

Remember the one who flung grace open wide
Who carries our burdens above
Who giggled first under the starry night skies
To show us that he’s on our side

Let the Son rise again on Christmas!

No magic elixir can keep at the door
The sufferings and sin of this world
But promise and miracle call in the voice
Of Jesus our lives to restore.

This infant so lowly, this swaddled young boy
Who later rose king from the grave
Revealed that God loves us and all through this life
We walk with the master of joy

Let the Son rise again this Christmas!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Sex for You!

As a Christian I believe, along with the majority of Christians across time, that the primary witness to the historical activity of God in the world comes through the scriptures, known as the Bible and the Old and New Testaments. As a preacher, this means that when I preach I do so from the starting point of passages from scripture. What is said in the scripture reading for a given Sunday is where I begin my discernment of what the Holy Spirit calls me to preach in my sermon. The funny thing is, the scriptures speak of all sorts of things.

Including sex.

We have many Separations Of Church And in our present world. We have the tirelessly cited Separation Of Church And State. We have the less widely publicized Separation Of Church and Politics. There is the comforting Separation Of Church And Money; and the insidious Separation Of Church And The Other Six Days Of The Week. My new favourite, after this morning, is the Separation Of Church And Sex.

I preached from a scripture passage that addressed sex. So the sermon was about sex. I spoke to all the parents of young children the week before, informing them that, at their discretion, they might elect to have their young children step out of the sanctuary during the sermon. I wanted to make sure I did not brooch a topic with their younger children that they preferred to postpone until later. I even had a gracious member of the congregation offer to tend these young ones until the sermon was over.

So right after the scripture reading and before I began the sermon proper, I made the announcement for dismissal of young children. Several left; one tried to leave but was asked to stay by a parental unit. So far so good.

Now, I've never preached on sex or sexuality so directly as this morning. And any time I brooch one of the Separation of Church And topics, I assume there's going to be some resistance in the human heart, and maybe some comments suggesting a little more modest presentation. But I wasn't quite prepared for what happened about a minute into the sermon.

Presbyterians don't move during a sermon--our western European congregational culture generally doesn't allow it. (Laughter can be OK; I think guffawing is off-limits, though.) So my eyes quickly found the movement when an older elementary-age child made his way out of the pew and towards the door. Now, you ought to know that the door from the sanctuary to the Parish Hall--where food is served, coffee is drunk, and young children are corralled during racy sermons--is at the front of the sanctuary. So this young lad had to walk right through the view of the congregation as he departed.

I had said the word "sex" or "sexuality" probably five times by now. That was enough for this one: as he left the pew and headed for the door, he had his fingers in his ears. No lie: his elbows were high, his fingers straight, plugging up those delicate receptors from any mention of the bad word I was uttering. (What I could see that the congregation couldn't was that his face was screwed up like I had made him suck a lemon!) The sight struck us all as funny, and frankly, when the sermon's going to be about sex it's not a bad thing to crack the anxiety with a little laughter. So we stopped and giggled for a little bit, then got back to business.

But this young man wasn't having any of this business. He was determined to keep his ears pure of this preacher's scandalous words. And so he did.

I can't complain; I can recite with laughter (instead of tears) the first time someone walked out because of my sermon.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Play Date?

We have been waaay to quiet over here! How are all of you doing?

I am thinking we need a play date -- maybe in January in NYC (because we can all get there). Any takers?

Also, the smoke you see coming from this part of New Jersey is our church (proverbially) burning down so we can see what happens next. Today letters will hit mailboxes announcing the session's decision not to have our major fund raiser this year (the 50th annual oyster supper was the last), and next week is the final discussion about merging the board of trustees with the session of the congregation so we have a unicameral board. Anyone have a spare fire extinguisher?

What is new in your parts of the world?


Monday, August 20, 2007

My Book

Hey, can we do shameless self-promotion here? I think I read someone else using the phrase, so I'm going to go for it. It's not all self-promotion, of course; it's also a great joy I can share.
I published a book early this year. It's a fantasy fiction novel entitled "As in a Mirror." If you have any taste for this genre, please order a copy and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your comments.

It's only available online (through an internet self-publishing house): www(dot)lulu(dot)com. Search for my name (emrys tyler) and "As in a Mirror" ought to come up. If you're feeling really keen, after you read it (not before) leave a review on the Lulu website.

I post this now because I just had to do a major revision--changing one name in the text--because a character showed up in a scene where he wasn't supposed to be present. Ach! But now it's flawless until another reader finds another error. Maybe you'll be the next one!

Thanks for indulging me.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


This is a response to an earlier post by Julie: "How did your congregation celebrate Pentecost?"

I (with the blessing of the worship committee) decided to make this Pentecost my annual sermon with clearly proselytizing content. So I prepped the congregation by preaching a 4-sermon series on evangelism, and told them way in advance that Pentecost would be invite-a-friend Sunday.

Those aren't the parts that are significant to me. They're just background.

I led a candlelight service (at the end of May). Everyone got a candle on the way in. After the sermon, I invited all present to come forward and light his or her candle from a candle held by one of the elders. When they lit their candles, they received blessings from the elders (prepared beforehand, because my elders are generally nervous about leading any part of the worship service).

Long-time members of the congregation affirmed their confession in Christ and received a blessing of affirmation.

Lapsed members confessed their intention to recommit and received a blessing of strength and will to do so.

Non-believers came forward and stated their desire to be found by the Lord, and received a blessing of new faith.

At the end of the ceremony, everyone's candle was lit, and I reminded them of the Pentecost story: that the Holy Spirit had come down on all of them by faith in Jesus. When we extinguished our candles, I framed it not as a "blowing out" but as a "spreading the light" throughout the world--our calling as disciples. (I think I may have got that idea from one of y'all. Thanks!)

Most everyone I talked to found it to be a moving worship service. I'm glad I did it. Perhaps we'll have to light more candles again at Pentecost next year.

Or maybe we can get those Burger King crowns (remember those?) and tape candles to them, then light them--"tongues of fire coming to rest on them" and all that. Maybe for a Children's Time . . .