Presbytery Pastoral Care Network


November 23, 2011 - Vol 5, Issue 5


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Table of Contents

PPCN Mission

Nurturing the health of the Body of Christ through caring for its


 helping others logo



PPCN  Board

Dan Corll, President

Pittsburgh Presbytery


Joe Sandifer, Vice President

Presbytery of Greater Atlanta


Carol Allen, Secretary

Chicago Presbytery


Alan Baroody, Treasurer

Savannah Presbytery


Melanie Hancock

Presbytery of Northern Kansas 


Steve McCutchan, Newsletter Editor

Salem Presbytery


Christine Sage

Pacific Presbytery


Lou Snead

Mission Presbytery


Gary Weaver 

Presbytery of Pueblo



Denominational Advisors:

Marcia Meyers


Office of Vocation, PC(USA)


Helen Locklear

Board of Pensions, PC(USA)



Deep Well CD Front Cover 

A Deep Well                 for the Pastor

Spiritual meditations and music to support the   pastoral vocation.

Price $10

Order from Presbyterian  Distribution Center   

ph. 1-800-524-2612

Ask for OGA-08-099



Laughter from the Well CD 

Offering 70 minutes of humorous and musical reflections on the      challenges of ministry.

Price: $15.99

 Order here






Powerpoint Powerpoint: Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations
Flash drives containing the Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations powerpoint program and expanded script and updated Toolbox are available for $40.   Contact Steve McCutchan if interested.
Quick Fact:
In a July Public Policy Poll, people were asked to evaluate God's overall performance: 52% approved, 40% were not sure, and 9% disapproved.

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Below is a suggested series of experiences for each week in Advent for the busy pastor. Feel free to share them with other pastors as your advent gift in support of their busy work.


Stephen McCutchan 

Presbytery Pastoral Care Network 


Pastors are always busy, especially during holy-day seasons. Yet, however busy we are, we can always take some slot time, brief moments in between other scheduled events, to nurture our own spirit. The problem, of course, is remembering to fill in that slot with something that can nurture our spirit. The Advent season will begin soon. Advent is a time of preparation and expectation for celebrating the birth of Christ and anticipation of the coming of Christ.


In that first week, make use of either an alarm on your watch or phone. Choose a time, perhaps either early or late in the day when you are likely to have a moment of control over your time. Set your alarm for that time each day for the five workdays, not counting Sunday. The first time it goes off, read the Epistle lesson for the first Sunday in Advent, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Each of the lessons that week focus on the effect of the end time on your life.  


In this lesson, the promise is that Christ will be revealed to you in a way that will strengthen you from now to the end. After reading the lesson, pause and jot down two or three ways that sensing the real presence of Christ in a more powerful way this season might strengthen you in your ministry and your life. For the sake of making it concrete, allow yourself to imagine having an experience that left no doubt in your mind that Christ is calling you to this specific ministry where you are and providing you the specific gifts that you need to strengthen you in light of all the challenges you face.  


Risk praying that such an expectation might be real for you. Then repeat this experience each of your five days. As you jot down each day those ways that your life and ministry will be changed, they may deepen and your prayers may deepen as well.



The second Sunday in Advent focuses on John the Baptist and his focus on acting ethically as a way to prepare for the Lord. The Epistle lesson, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, is a helpful lesson for pastors and they seek to make the personal preparation that can lead to them recognizing the birth of Christ in their lives. A major focus of that lesson is that all the material aspects of life, which can become such an all consuming obsession for people, will eventually pass away and then what is left. "Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of person ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, . . ." (v 11). As with the first week of Advent, look for a small act that can be taken amidst all of the other busy activities of the season but which will have a personal nurturing benefit.  


The focus of the second week is ethical action, as called for by John the Baptist. This is not a means of saving ourselves but as a manner of preparing us to recognize Christ in our midst. Ethical action is a step towards righteousness or right relationships. That should be your personal act of preparation during this second week. Again we focus on five days. Of course it can be carried on to the additional days but you should be taking at least one day off and Sunday is filled with extra pressure.


Place a piece of paper by the side of your bed. Each morning as you wake, jot down one act of kindness or act of justice that you can take that day. It can be something very small but it should be intentional as a movement of preparation. One time you might do something special for the secretary that supports your ministry. Another time it might be something for the neighborhood child or elderly adult. It could also be writing a letter protesting an injustice, or a visit to an Alzheimer patient who won't even remember you've been there. To separate it from your continuing ministry, it should be for someone who is not a member of your congregation.  


May you discover Christ's presence in such actions.



By the third week in Advent, the pressure of events is beginning to wear you down. It is important to continue to at least take some mini space to nurture yourself. The focus of both the psalm, Psalm 126, and the Epistle, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, is on joy and thanksgiving. While we often remind our congregation that this is the season of joy, it is important for us to occasionally pause and experience joy ourselves.  


Again, set a reminder alarm for each day to remind you to pull away even if for five minutes to focus on your own faith journey and your relationship with the risen Christ. Here is a suggestion for how to structure that brief time period. Briefly review some of the "might not have happened" events in your history that shaped the direction of your life.   


Divide your life into periods, perhaps every ten years, or distinct moves between churches or other significant markings in your life. Take the first period and simply let the events leading up to and during that period to play across your mind. Look for those incidents that might not have happened but because they did altered your life in a positive way. It might be how you met your spouse, or how you chose your seminary, or a comment that someone made that burned into your brain. Whatever it was, because it happened and affected you the way it did, you are a different person than you otherwise would have been. If you choose, even the negative experiences can be transformed into a positive response.


In joy and thanksgiving, rejoice in those memories. Then the next day, choose another period and repeat. Some of the events may have been sad, some hilarious, and others might appear ordinary until you recognize how they shaped you. To paraphrase Psalm 126:2, in thinking about those events, you may find your mouth filled with laughter and your tongue filled with shouts of joy. You are loved and have not been left alone.  



The fourth week in Advent draws near. This year it is exactly one week before Christmas. The schedule is difficult for a pastor because it means that Christmas Eve is on a Saturday night, and the next day you have to rise, without time to catch your breath, and celebrate Christmas day with your congregation. Again, remember the importance and value of expectations. There can be great joy in anticipation.  


In your brief breaks each day during this week, begin to sketch out an experience of joy that you can share with another person. The experience you plan now should be one that you can actually do after the rush of the season has subsided. The first decision is about who would you like to have that experience with. The second decision, maybe reflected on during the break on the second day, is what you would like to do that would be a shared joy. On the third day, contact that person and discuss with them and see if you can match your calendars and find a good day for your experience. On the fourth day sketch out some of your expectations for how you and your friend will enjoy that experience. On the fifth day, write a brief prayer of thanksgiving that reflects your joy in anticipating that experience. Depending on your relationship with the person you have invited to share that experience with you, you might want to share with them some of your reflections. That way both you and the other person get to share in the joy of anticipation.


For more information on the care of clergy, go to the editor's blog.
Join the conversation on ways to care for clergy four to five days a week.

PPCN provides professional development, support, and resources for those caring for ministers throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA).