Eastertide 2018… or Clergy Crate Advent…

In this season of Eastertide, having just preached on Thomas’ need to see and feel Jesus’ vulnerability, evidence of Jesus not just alive, but resurrected, I offer up a bit of vulnerability of my own…

January of last year, you all enabled me to go from the spark of a passion project to the fruition of a sold-out subscription mailing within a matter of days. I am so grateful for all who have been on board with this project from the start. I, unfortunately, have been struggling to keep the mailings on schedule. While on some level this has lent itself to the spontaneous nature of receiving a subscription box, it has been far more erratic than has been helpful to either of us.

There are a couple of ways I could handle this:

  1. Call it quits, reflecting on this year as a grand experiment and refunding the remaining paid boxes.
  2. Or, because I got into this line of work because I’m just crazy enough to believe in resurrection, find new ways to honor my original passion and intention, by making this project into a full-fledged business.

As you might imagine by the title of this post, I have chosen to go with number two, and am making the effort to make this dream more of a reality (and less of a logistical nightmare).

For those still awaiting boxes for this first quarter of the year, I ask for continued patience, knowing that that is far more than I deserve, but holding out hope you will be gracious with this crazy idealist you have decided to support in these early stages of this business. While the original goal was to have it to you within the season of Lent, the new (and more realistic) plan is to have it to you within Eastertide.

If you have not yet ordered an Eastertide crate, you can do so here: https://clergycrate.wordpress.com/order/

Be sure to fill out both the Google Form and pay via the PayPal links at the bottom of the page.

My hope and prayer is that seeking solid footing for this project will enable it to grow, and to truly be a resource and comfort to all of you wonderful people. I am now pursuing this through seeking professional fulfillment services (aka someone else to box everything up and get it sent out to you… including international shipping!), networking with vendors, increasing my attention to professional resources for subscription box entrepreneurs.

May God bless each of you in your ministries!

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Christmas 2017

“All is calm, all is bright!” – Away in a Manger

As clergy, this song has often struck me as silly, thinking about the nitty gritty logistical side of Jesus’ birth. My goodness, things were complicated, attending the census, taking lodging among the animals. But yet each year, I still love hearing that song because it holds a deep nostalgia of this season.

So much of Advent and Christmas are like this, we the clergy are tasked with holding the balance of what we know of Christ’s humble beginnings, and the stories the rest of the world tells us about them. It can be a difficult position to be in, especially when our beloved vocation keeps us from our beloved families.

Especially in my first call when I was single with my family a full day’s drive away, I ended up spending my Christmas Eve alone in my office, preparing for worship. One year it was folding paper cranes for a reading of the Birds of Bethlehem, another it was preparing decorations and candles.

With those experiences in mind, this crate was created with the desire to serve as a bit of a companion in often lonely season. The main item is a Crock-Pot, and inside were a handful of items that I’ve used as illustrations in sermons, that may be helpful for you to do the same.

Fun fact: the content of this mailing ended up with a value of over $40! There are additional materials available for you on this page to enhance your personal and ministerial life.  With a referral link to Jen Hatmaker’s Audiobook, that gave you an additional $17.50 value.

Click on the picture to link to where you may purchase  that item.

This crockpot is the very thing I wish I would’ve had with me at church while folding paper cranes and Skypeing with my family’s Christmas Eve party.

Click on the image for a PDF of the cookbook that I created for the mailing.

This mirror was selected to coordinate with a favorite story of mine from Robert Fulghum In his book, “It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It,” he tells this story: “At the last session of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, our instructor (asked), ‘Are there any questions?’ These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now there was only silence. So I asked. ‘What is the meaning of life?’ He looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was. ‘I will answer your question.’ Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter and said: ‘When I was a small child, we were very poor and lived in a remote village. One day, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. I kept this little mirror, and as I grew up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I am not the light or the source of light. But light is still there, and will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world and help change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.’”

There are a great many sermon illustrations that go along with candlelight, but particularly in this season, I like talking about the passing of light with the continuation of the work of Christmas. Christmas Poem by Jim Strathdee When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the magi and the shepherds Have found their way home, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost and lonely one, To heal the broken soul with love, To feed the hungry children with warmth and good food, To feel the earth below, the sky above! To free the prisoner from all chains, To make the powerful care, To rebuild the nations with strength and good will, To see God’s children everywhere! To bring hope to every task you do, To dance at a baby’s new birth, To make music in an old person’s heart, And to sing to the colors of the earth!

This particular item was included because I found the full lyrics of “I Heard the Bells” particularly compelling this season, but could certainly be used in a great many other contexts: Christmas Bells Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882 I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men! It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

 

Advent is nearly here… and so is the next Clergy Crate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether your day went something like this:

 

This:

Or this:

I pray that you were able to find some time in the midst of it to breathe in and out and experience gratitude.

Now that Advent is just around the corner, I know many of you are in full tilt busy mode, but with very different to-do lists than your parishioners (with some definite overlap, of course). You may feel like you are running around in circles trying to get everything done:

You likely find yourself in the midst of finding volunteers, navigating congregational traditions, attempting to find new ways to tell this beautiful and wild story of our Savior’s birth:


For many pastors, it’s a difficult season trying to balance the needs of your congregation with your own desire for a season of hope and joy. In the midst of all of this, I hope I can send you a bit of comfort and care through this next Clergy Crate.

As I’m sure you will sympathize, this crate is a week or two later than I was hoping to get it out as I’m still navigating the shipping logistics of this venture, but I do believe the wait will be worth it, since this particular crate is one I’ve been looking forward to for months (and have even moved the contents of it across the country with me)!

There are still crates available to order, so please be sure to take this opportunity to purchase one for yourself or for a clergy person you’d totally send a Christmas present to if you weren’t so overwhelmed with this season!

Ordering is available here. Please be sure to fill out the Google Form and pay through the appropriate PayPal link.

Due to costs related to shipping, the pricing will need to go up slightly starting with the Lenten Crate so this will be your last chance to purchase crates that this particular price. If you need to use up a professional expense account before the year-end, I would be grateful to have you purchase crates for next year as well. Not sure when your subscription is up? Feel free to use the Contact form. Thanks!

Advent blessings to you all!

Order Your Clergy Crate to Enter a Giveaway!

Clergy Crate has relocated to St. Louis, MO! It’s been a crazy season of transition, just in time for this yearly season of transition: back-to-school, beginning of church program year, 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time… well, that last one’s not quite as exciting, but you get the point. This month’s clergy crate is specifically curated to help you to start this season off well… establish some new practices, break some ice, and get a bit more organized.

The Back-to-School Season Clergy Crate is going out very soon, with a few left to be sold, so I’ve got a giveaway for those ordering today!

  • The first two people to purchase a year’s subscription (4 mailings) will get a copy of the amazing, Jenny Lawson’s, “You are Here.” It’s a personal favorite of mine!

By way of a personal update, in this move to St. Louis, I have also made the transition from full-time pastor to full-time mom. I hope to do pulpit supply and freelance work to keep my pastoring skills from getting rusty in this new season of life. Feel free to check out my website for this work, Rev. Freelance, if there’s a way I can work with you or your ministry.

A Delayed Post about an On-Time Mailing

… if you’re going to have one or the other, this is the way to go, right?

Check out the May 2017 Clergy Crate, including the items below:


Fun fact: the content of this mailing ended up with a value of over $40! There was also a whole additional set of materials available on our password protected Subscribers page!

This Clergy Crate was designed around some of the activities unique to summer in the church. In my context, summer often means outdoor worship services. I find it tricky to both be comfortable in what I’m wearing and to use a mic pack, so the first item that shaped this mailing was the waist pack. I like how it looks relatively small until items are put in the zippered pockets, so it doesn’t look any bulkier than need be. With those summer worship experiences in mind, I also included both throat drops and (actually tasty!) antacids in my favorite flavors, which have gotten me through many a worship service. The rest of the items were selected to be able to fit into the pouch to support whatever work or play you have going on this season.

This waist pack is ideal for summer worship services as well as needing to be the go-to person for activities and first aid while on trips with your ministry, with the bandaid themed playing cards hinting at a bit of both. After much of my seminary experience surrounded by people playing ultimate frisbee, this little frisbee intrigued me as a way to play frisbee with it being small enough to come along wherever the summer may take you. I could also see it being a great fit for a promotional item to hand out for VBS, a campus activity fair, or rally day. This clay palm cross is designed to be held in hand as a help for focus in prayer practices.

In general, I’m trying to keep the contents of these mailings at a high quality and hopefully feature studios, companies, brands, artists, and products you may not have heard of, but in ministry life and ministry mailings, sometimes Oriental Trading ends up being a big help. Each of the items highlighted below comes from Oriental Trading and would work well for Take Our Church:

Puzzles like these cross ones can provide entertainment on a long/bus/plane/train ride when the group’s getting a bit restless. Traveling with competitive types? Time everyone to see who can complete the puzzle the fastest.

This scratch off postcard can serve as an object lesson for how God’s goodness is revealed, coming to understanding someone or something below the surface of what we see, or how God transforms us… and then it can be mailed!

This prayer journal is mostly designed for use by kids, but I think is applicable to any who want to have a clear prayer practice.

These temporary tattoos each have a different scripture verse. Depending on your audience, these can be amusing to unite your group with everyone having a tattoo or to set yourself apart with a sleeve of biblical tattoos. Or, if you’re in a particularly difficult season, you might find it helpful to have one of these on you as your own private encouragement.

There were additional resources provided by:

sanctifiedartlogo

 

Interested in ordering for our next mailing? Be sure to go to our Order page, fill out the Google Form, and pay through the PayPal Link.

Also, be sure to check out our other types of mailings, Event Crates and Life Awards, to bless the clergy in your life, or send a treat to yourself!

For those who received this mailnig: Any testimonials or photos you can share of your mailing, especially with you using the items in your context, would be particularly helpful. Email clergycrate@gmail.com with your photos.

April Showers Bring May… Clergy Crates!

Whether your April was dry, rainy, or filled with snow, be assured that the May Clergy Crate will be on its way soon! It’s filled with items to brighten your day, whatever the weather. I’m hoping the items will be a resource to you throughout your ministries this summer.

What are your plans for this summer? Leading mission trips? Taking part in your church’s Vacation Bible School? Comment on this post for a chance to receive a bonus item in your May Clergy Crate!

There are just 6 May Clergy crates still available! Be sure to order soon to receive yours!

 

HOLY Week – Caring for Clergy Crate Kids

This past week I’ve heard several of my clergy friends say, “ahh! what do I get for my kids for Easter!?”

It’s tricky when you want to find items that are appropriate theologically and age-wise, but that are also fun. Also, if they can be ordered on Maundy Thursday and get here by Holy Saturday, that’s all the better! Amazon Prime is your friend! If you haven’t tried it yet, this is the perfect time for a free trial.*

To provide a bit of care for my clergy friends (and anyone else stuck in this predicament!) here’s a list of suggestions for various ages at various price points. I pray it will be helpful for you!:

Clergy Crate Kids

Remember, Christ came for you to have abundant life. (John 10:10). May your Easter Sunday afternoon (or evening if need be), be filled with napping!

 

*Believe it or not, I’m getting no sort of kick back from Amazon on this… I just genuinely like them that much!