Tag Archives: Pentecost

Leah Grundset Davis: In the Interim

I finished up my second semester of doctoral work in the Doctor of Ministry program at Candler School of Theology a few weeks ago. I jokingly made a Facebook posting that I wondered what I would do with all my free time and noted— “oh right, I’ll have a baby in a few weeks.”

It’s true that these few interim weeks between finishing school and welcoming our second daughter into the world offer brief glimpses into restful, quieter summer days. I’m savoring them because I know they do not come all too often.

The pace continues at work and I’m still chasing around a very busy almost-two-year-old, but without school thrown in the mix, I’ve had a few mornings where I can breathe deeper, a few afternoons where I can linger on my afternoon walk and even a few evenings, where I’ve (gasp!) read for pleasure without the impending deadline of a paper or a book to read for class hanging over my head.

It’s odd to consider not being in the pulpit again until the beginning of October. When my mind would normally be swirling with thoughts of Pentecost and summer lectionary texts, I instead find myself remembering, “oh yes, we need to put together that crib” and “where DID I put all of my older daughter’s clothes?”

The slowing down that comes for some ministers in the summer is like a breath of fresh air. (I know if you work with youth or children or have a busy summer schedule, then summer is not a slowing down, but a ramping up). I’m considering as I slow down, both intentionally and because I’m starting to waddle, ever-so-gracefully, where God might be new to me these days.

Where might I see the holy in the ordinary once the Spirit rushes in on Pentecost? Where might the Incarnation be real and tangible and how might I live that out because I have a few extra moments to inhale?

I know the busyness we all encounter hits at different moments throughout the year for all of us and it will be real again for me in about eight weeks when we welcome another child and then again when I return to work and school six weeks after that.

But I think I’ll linger in this space until then and claim it for what it is—a surpising gift.

leah grundset davis

Rev. Leah Grundset Davis is the communications specialist at the Alliance of Baptists and a member at Ravensworth Baptist Church, Annandale, Va. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband John, daughter Lydia, Moses the dog and is looking forward to welcoming second daughter in mid-July.

Merianna Neely Harrelson: Saints and Stepfamilies

Friday morning:
“So, are you an evil stepmother or a kind stepmother?”

Sunday morning:
“After prayerful deliberation, we, of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship, in Lexington, SC have called Marianna Neely Harrelson as Pastor. Merianna began her pastorate with us on June 1, 2014. She is the third person and first female called to serve our community of faith as Pastor.”

I’ve officially been a wife for 9 months and each time my husband looks at me and tells me that he believes in me and introduces me as his wife and shares his life with me, I feel extraordinary that I’ve been invited and trusted to share a call with him.

I’ve officially been a stepmother for 9 months and each time our 6 year old or 4 year old looks at me and calls me Mama 2 or Merianna and shares a little bit of their lives with me, I feel extraordinary that I’ve been invited to share these important formative years with them.

I’ve officially been a pastor for 16 days and each time one of my congregants looks at me and calls me Pastor and shares a little bit of their joy or grief, I feel extraordinary that they affirm the calling God’s placed on my life.

Pastor, wife, stepmother: there is nothing ordinary about this new life I am stepping into. I know that as I preach during this ordinary time, there will be some aspect of the extraordinary woven into each sermon because of where I am right now. And I’m glad that this first ordinary time of my preaching life is filled with so much extraordinary.

It’s easy to fall into a routine of the daily responsibilities of being a pastor, wife, and mother and think this is just another ordinary day. Right now I’m having trouble believing there are ordinary days. Too often ordinary conversations with other pastors, stepmothers and wives have turned so wholly divine that I’ve been literally speechless.

How is it possible that there is someone who is willing to share their own fears about being a stepmother so openly to me, so that I won’t feel so alone?

Why have there been two groups of women who have lovingly offered to include me in their mentor groups, so that I have a sounding board and safe haven?

Because we do not live in an ordinary world. We live in an extraordinary world full of spirit-filled people who believe that Pentecost is not a once a year occurrence, but rather ignites a flame that carries us into a time that may seem ordinary, but is fire-filled.

Once we start believing we are ordinary, we stop believing that God is extraordinary.

As I looked at Mary Hudson and Laura Cooper sitting on the first row on Sunday and watching me, their Mama 2, as I was installed, I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe they will be able to see a God who is extraordinary, too, because of the women who are living into their calls and the spirit-filled people who are transforming the world.

May we live as passionate, spirit-filled lives during these ordinary times so the world may see that there is something extraordinary in every day.


Merianna Neely Harrelson is the Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship in Lexington, SC. As the other part of her bi-vocational position, she works as the Editor-in-Chief of Harrelson Press Publishing. She and her husband and daughters live in Columbia, SC with their two dogs Willie and Waylon.

Alicia Davis Porterfield: Kitchen Table Pentecost

“In our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deed of power.” –Acts 2:11

The kitchen is the heart of our home.

Not in the HGTV sparkling stainless steel, open concept, granite countertop kind of way. More in the stove from the ’70’s, cups all over the counter (because every time a boy needs a drink of water he also needs a new cup, saith nobody ever!), jelly on the floor kind of way.

At our kitchen table, three boys, ages 8, 10 and 12, discuss their days, the current sport of the season and entertain each other with displays of certain bodily functions. Belatedly, they tack on a mumbled “excuse me” when given the parental stink eye.

Yep, raising them up in the way they should go. That’s us.

The recent table talk is all about the NBA post season, which seems to last a legion of weeks, by the way. As some know, I am not a sports fanatic. And my only sport of choice is baseball, having grown up with the Atlanta Braves back when they made losing an art form and kids all over the metro area got free tickets for good grades.

But I never learned to speak basketball.

Usually, the boys’ chatter washes over me at the table. I interject only to add, “Please chew with your mouth closed,” and “is your napkin on your lap?” and other such vital contributions.

Our middle child sometimes tries to include me.
“Mom, who do you like best: Kevin Love or Chris Paul?”
“Uhhhh . . who’s Kevin Love?”
“Mom!! Only my favorite player (this week, I add silently)! He’s on
the Taco Bell commercial. Chris Paul is the State Farm guy with the fake twin,
Cliff Paul.”
“Oh, right. Chris Paul. He seems like a good sport and his little boy is just

But mostly, waves of baller-speak wash over me. I’m tuned out. Thinking about the Weight Watcher points in this meal and the list of chores between me and bedtime.

Pentecost is this Sunday, when the Holy Spirit swooshed down (get the Nike reference?!) and Jesus’ followers suddenly proclaimed the good news of Christ in languages they’d never before uttered. Passover travelers from all over the Mideast stood in Jerusalem’s streets hearing God’s good news in Christ in their own languages for the first time.

All they had to do was listen. The Spirit was speaking.

And so it is at our kitchen table. Baller-speak winds around me, telling me something important about each child and his perspective, his hopes, his burgeoning faith. With the language of courts and rosters and predictions, each one shares a subtle dialect, unique to who God is shaping him to be.

Baller-speak is not my native tongue. I may never learn to speak it well.

But if I open myself to the movement of the Spirit, I may just hear “God’s deeds of power” right there at our battered kitchen table. All I have to do is listen. Amen.


Rev. Alicia Davis Porterfield is fluent in Mom-speak thanks to the three boys she raises with her husband, Eric. Her passion is empowering others to deeply engage with what God is doing in their lives. Through life coaching, writing and moderating the Ministry and Motherhood blog, she is grateful to be living out her call. Alicia edited a collection of essays A Divine Duet: Ministry and Motherhood (www.helwys.com) and prays to broaden that conversation through the blog. Join us by contacting Alicia: aporterfield@ec.rr.com.