Author Archives: Robyn

About Robyn

An Episcopal priest, bibliophile, dog owner, and Montanan

Falling Apart and Grace

Falling apart is human.  

The most important thing I learned my senior year of university was that I could fall apart.  I was the over-achieving, still remember all the classes I didn’t get an A in in high school, early-to-rise-late-to-bed, whether because I’m an oldest child or as a coping mechanism after my mother’s death.  So much of my self-worth was staked on being able and excellent. But that was the year I fell apart.  Recovery from my second brain surgery  was rough, chronic health conditions were multiplying, the worst depression I’ve experienced came and stayed and stayed.  I stopped going to classes, ate too many chips, bought a lot of books (we all have our coping mechanisms), barely slept, and am still amazed that any of my friends kept speaking to me.  I fell apart.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t graduate, wouldn’t get into seminary, wouldn’t have a future I could enjoy.  The terror made the falling worse. It took therapy, time, and friendship to survive.  To learn that I could fall apart and still be myself.

There is no grace in the falling. 

I’m writing this on Good Friday.  There are many opinions my younger self strongly held that seminary and a decade of parish ministry have obliterated.  Times I’ve done or said something, and walked back to my office to mentally apologize to the clergy my younger self judged, sometimes harshly, for doing the same exact thing I just did.  My opinion on calling today Good isn’t one of them.  Today isn’t Good.  Today we killed Jesus.  Today things didn’t fall apart so much as we tore them down.  Judas betrays; Peter and the disciples abandon; Rome kills.  Creation rejects our Creator to the point of death. 

“Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

This is my first Holy Week in a decade without bulletins and sermons; this Holy Week I am not in a parish, trying to shepherd people through the heart of the Christian year.  The grief and stress of another parish facing closing, the erosion of my patience and self control, made leave my smartest and most faithful choice.  There are questions I’m tempted to pose here: “What is it to be clergy without a church? What is it to be clergy without a cure?” Those questions look for meaning in the falling. And that may be a story I will tell, but it is not this story.  This is the story of falling apart.  Of the courage to walk into my doctor’s office, prepared to argue, saying, “My therapist thinks I need medical leave.” But hearing in response, “I’m so glad you’re doing this.  Taking leave has saved my career.” And hearing this echoed from person after person after person.

Falling apart is human but, I am learning, we don’t have to let it be terrifying. In being given time and space to fall apart, in the recognition and support of my humanity, it hasn’t been what it was in university.  Perhaps, you may think, it is the knowing that I can fall apart.  But there have been other falls.  Knowing I could fall apart helped, but each came with terror that I was tearing my future apart.  This time there is no terror.

This week I pray and worship and marvel at the strangeness and the grace of what I’m not doing. 

There is no grace in the falling.  Grace is being loved while you fall.

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Water in the Desert, Lent 3 2019

a trickle of water flows in front of rock with a sparse bit of greenery growing.  Blue text reads: water in the desert, and the url https://theologybird.com

Morsels & Stories: I talked about the Book of Alternative’s theology and services for reconciliation. You can find the BAS as a pdf here [link].

Sermon: Come to the water? What about when the water seems to be gone?

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here [link]. I worked most closely with Isaiah 55.

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Jesus our Mother Hen, Lent 2 2019

A chicken on a bit of wood, with grass in the background.  The text reads, "If God is the mother hen, will we be her chicks and seek her refuge?"
below is the url https://theologybird.com

Morsels & Stories: I read Dorcas’s story from Grit and Grace.

Sermon: Jesus sets up a parallel between a fox and a mother hen, Herod and himself.

The lessons can be found by clicking here [link]. I worked most closely with Luke 13:31-35.

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Immigrant, Lent 1 2019

A red image of a passport with a cross in place of a country emblem sits atop a background of a mostly vague map.  Alongside is the text, "Welcome to an immigrant life, and all of it's questions"  below is the url: https://theologybird.ocm

Morsels & Stories: We had a brief conversation about what Lenten Disciplines people have adopted.

Sermon: Paul lays out what it takes to be a Christian. And I ponder what it means to belong to our community given our tradition is rooted in immigration.

The lessons can be found by clicking here [link]. I worked most closely with Romans 10: 8B-13.

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Stories on the Way Home

The background shows a paved road in the mountains, on the side of a valley lake.  Over the water is the text "What story will you tell on the way home?" and the url: https://theologybird.com

Morsels & Stories: I propose a lenten discipline of reading theology, along with some book suggestions that don’t require a theology degree to read, understand, or learn from.

Sermon: Jesus goes up a mountain to pray. What a story Peter, James, and John didn’t tell.

The lessons for today can be found here [link]. I worked most closely with Luke 9:28-43.

March 10 Edited to correct the audio file so you can listen to the sermon I describe. Apologies!

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Measuring Flour and Grace, February 2019

A flour spills from a glass jar onto a wood surface.  The text "Do we measure grace out like flour?" is over the flour.  below is the url https://theologybird.com

Morsels & Stories: I read the Ark of the Covenant’s story from  The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder.

Sermon: Making pies and changing the world.

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here (link). I worked most closely with Luke 6:27-38.

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Fishers, February 2019

Over a picture of multicoloured koi, text reads "you have been fishers of people since the Holy Spirit fished you out of Baptismal Waters."
below is a website url: https://theologybird.com

Morsels & Stories: I talked about fiction and the theology I’ve found and loved there.

Sermon: I preach on making fishers, of fish and people.

The lessons can be found by clicking here (link). I worked most closely with Luke 5:1-11.

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Commitment, January 2019

Image of a book with its pages being flipped open.  Text across the top reads: To remember who, and whose, we are: God's People.
lower on the image is the website address: theologybird.com

Morsels & Stories: We talked about healthy conversation in preparation for our Annual Meeting.

Sermon: Ezra reads the Torah. But what gets skipped? Why? But if we hear the Scripture differently?

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here (link). I worked most closely with Nehemiah 8: 1-10.

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Gifts, January 2019

Morsels & Stories: We talked about Church Wardens.

Sermon: Paul lists gifts and Jesus turns water into wine, and all of that offers us challenge and promise as we prepare for our Annual Meeting.

The lessons can be found by clicking here (link). I worked most closely with 1 Cor 12:1-11 and John 2:1-11

Listen:

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Third Thoughts, Baptism of Our Lord 2019

Morsels & Stories: I read from Does God Have a Big Toe?

Sermon: I cite a favourite theologian of mine: Terry Pratchett. What can Discworld teach us about the Holy Spirit?

The lessons can be found by clicking here (link). I worked most closely with Luke 3:15-17 21-22

Listen:

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