Settling into Harmony & my chaplaincy residency

Today it is raining and coolish and feels like fall.

It also feels like we are here living, working, MINISTERING … We are not so much in transition now, but rather we simply ARE. We are as settled into our home in Harmony, MN as we are likely to be this year. At this point I consider it an accomplishment to not think about the next move (back to Dubuque for our final seminary year at Wartburg), and to instead simply be and live in each moment. It is equally an accomplishment not to be obsessed about my future calling in ministry — to set aside the questions about what type of institution I could best use my particular “chaplain gifts” and to simply exist in this present moment and give that gift to those around me, and to myself.

Shawn has settled into his pastor internship here in the Harmony area, and thankful finds it energizing. Nessa has settled into 3rd grade at her new school and we thankfully hear very few complaints, fear, etc. And I thankfully find a new appreciation for my time at Mayo almost every day.

Mayo Clinic, and its hospitals, is a unique place to minister for many reasons including both the diversity of individuals that come to Mayo and the diverse hospital units one can minister on. The site is also unique in my experience in that there are still protestant chaplain-led worship services each Sunday. All of this and more works together to create a unique culture as well as unique opportunities for ministry. I am thankful to be a part of this … To be here in this place and time.

Although some days I can’t help thinking it would have been nice to be led here when I was younger and could go without sleep easier … I especially think this on my post-call days. Leading worship in two chapels after being on-call all night is certainly a unique challenge. Yet, even on days when I am tired or when chronic pain flares in one way or another (more often than I would like this fall), I realize that it is only now that I am prepared to use the gifts given to me by God to be fully present with others in their pain, grief, doubts AND hopes (there is much hope here) … To listen, to offer the few words that come to me, to give voice to scripture, to pray AND to BE.

Love and belief,
Tami

Photos of us at Good Shepherd

I just want to share a few photos from last weekend at Good Shepherd before we move on to tomorrow when Shawn is preaching for pulpit supply at a classmate’s church nearby in Iowa while I assist him in worship.

After uploading these folders (on my old laptop) I remember why I usually stick to no photos and my iPad 🙂

Today I am thankful for sunshine and family.

May the peace that passes all understanding keep you in light and love today.

tamishawnalbs

Tami in pulpit at Good Shepherd


Shawn Pulpit Good Shepherd

Today … take my life and let it be …

Today is the last Thursday of the academic year. It was also the end of our academic chapel year, the last Thursday of my first year at seminary, and the day we have our sending service — a service of special importance to those graduating from Wartburg Seminary this Sunday as well as to the rest of the community. A day of gratitude, praise, thanksgiving, and also of grief. Grief in the sense that we will never be with this community again. The graduates move away to their first call parishes or service work, and the 2nd year students move on to internship and other field work experiences, while those of us ending our first year complete our Clinical Pastoral Experiences (CPE) over the summer (generally somewhere away from the Wartburg campus and Dubuque) and return to campus next year as the current Interns return to become Seniors and an entirely new class enters as Juniors/1st year students. The community, as wonderful as it is, is continually changing.

And for some there is added grief and loss in that things did not turn out as they expected or planned in some way. There is always loss. Here and everywhere.

Yet, God is at work.

The Sending Service in chapel today was powerful in many way as the community came together in symbolic and real unity to worship with each other. We sang a hymn I hadn’t thought about much recently until today. It’s one of my favorite hymns, and now that I look forward to serving as a consecrated diaconal minister I love the words to this hymn even more (the tune is great too).

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
*Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

This song in the midst of grief and loss of any type seems to take on even more meaning. I admit that when it comes to the transitional community here I find myself just trying not to think about it and instead looking ahead to the new friends and new experiences (I am so looking forward to this summer!). Yet, there are so many losses that that doesn’t work for.

After finishing my Pauline Letters final I came home debating between a nap and a snack with a glass of wine (I am awake writing so you guess what I opted for). And then again I was jolted to the reality I seem called to — minor in my life this time but so much of a huge gap in others’ hearts — the death of a child, a son, a 15-year-old vibrant boy known for his concern for others. My heart aches knowing the gap in his parents’ hearts.

And I sit with the reality that loss is. It just is. One/We cannot deny it or hide from it. We can try to pretend otherwise and be shocked at it when we encounter it, but that is us — humans in denial — and not reality. There is continual decay and loss in this great creation we live in.

And yet, as a classmate reminded me this afternoon, God is at work. He is at work in my life each time I share in some small way the journey of loss that so many encounter regularly here in our earthly life. God is at work in the joy and in the sorrow.

I have a peace that passes all understanding — that I can not always adequately describe — that I can always share.

Thanks be to God!!!!

Today I take a moment to honor the joy and the sorrow, the transitions, the life given to us by God. Today I pause in a holy moment of reverence and prayer. Today I say to God “take my life and let it be … ever only all for thee.”

The Power of Inclusive Holy Communion (Gluten Free Bread Eucharist)

Let me begin by sharing that every single Holy Communion service while at my Diaconal Ministry Formation Event here in Gettysburg uses gluten free bread for all participants as well as alcohol free wine for all. Other than the one chapel service at Wartburg Seminary this fall that Shawn and I provided the communion bread (so it was gluten free), this is the first time I have felt fully included in the communion service. It is powerful.

We believe that we are communing as a community during Holy Communion as well as coming to Christ’s Table. It is a challenge to feel a part of the community when one cannot partake in the same elements as the rest of the community. Having GF bread available for those that need it is a step in the right direction; however, there is a difference when compared to all being able to partake together as a community.

In the past I would often either have to plan ahead and provide my own GF bread for communion, or be diligently watching to be sure that the GF bread is indeed available at the table as I was told it would be (either in person or through a church’s bulletin announcements). I have even experienced more than once going forward for communion only to be told that contrary to the printed announcement, there is no GF bread available today or that it was forgotten. And frequently even when it is there those serving communion do not understand what to do with it. I am open to honest respectful communication with anyone regarding the various ways to handle GF communion, but this post is simply a witness to how powerful, and truly life-changing, it has been to experience communion here at this event as a full participant.

We gather around the table in a semi circle during communion (we also generally worship in the round), and are served the gluten free bread and de-alcoholized wine as we are gathered there. We are there gathered together in that holy sacrament rather than going forward one at time.

I have often wept during and after this powerful experience this past week. I have not been so moved by gathering in community and remembering and receiving Christ’s body and blood in years. I give God thanks and praise for bringing me to this community!

Glory be to God!

Wartburg Seminary Opening Worship

On Monday September 5, 2011, Wartburg Theological Seminary began their 158th year with opening worship.

You can access a podcast and listen to President Stan Olson’s sermon from the Wartburg website:
http://wartburgseminary.podbean.com/2011/09/08/rev-dr-stanley-olson-090511/

It was a very moving service, with all of the Wartburg community and families in attendance. Before entering the sanctuary we all met outside and gathered by class (and guests), and each class of students and group present was prayed for. All of the new students entering Wartburg this year also had their names read off individually. As we entered the chapel we were sprinkled with water as a reminder of our baptism.

It was very moving to be a part of this service, and now that several days have passed I am thankful that this busy stressful week started with prayer and worship. I am thankful to be a part of this community!