Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Entire Life I Searched For Thee

"Angle" by Elias Punch
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
preached at Ewing Presbyterian Church

Scripture Reading: 
I remember, when I was pregnant with my first child, that it was the strangest, most bewildering year of my life. I knew I was pregnant from the earliest moment—I just felt different. I was sleepy all of the time, parts of my body ached in strange ways, I was an emotional mess. I was not surprised to be pregnant—I was surprised by the way pregnancy took over my entire body. I was ill-prepared for the way a child enters your life before they are even born.

Along about the 4th month, I went to visit my obstetrician for a routine check up. The nurse asked me if I was experiencing any pains or unusual sensations, and since I was pregnant, I was experiencing all kinds of pains and unusual sensations. I had been vomiting for 4 months straight, my stomach was popping out, muscles and ligaments were moving and shifting and changing to accommodate this new life. Oh everything felt strange! And so the nurse handed me a gown and asked me to undress so the doctor could examine me.

A few minutes later the doctor knocked on the door. Startled, she yelled, “Why are you undressed?” I burst into tears, embarrassed that the doctor seemed to think I just randomly threw off my clothes. The doctor explained she didn’t need to examine me that day—the aches and pains and movements of my body were just normal parts of pregnancy. She explained to me that pregnancy was a normal, everyday function of the body.

Except that for me, THIS pregnancy was NOT a normal everyday function of MY body. THIS pregnancy was an extraordinary event, worthy of wonder and amazement and attention. There was

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hide and Seek

A short sermon, preached this morning on Malachi 3:1-4.

In loving memory of Katy Remde, Gideon Addington, Maggie Kim, and a girl named Amy. If you have given up hope, the day will surely come when the Lord will draw near. Hold on another minute sister. Stay a while longer, brother.

Once upon a time, a therapist friend told me she had a client who was profoundly depressed. They had worked together many years, and every week the woman would come to see her. Every week the therapist had the same question for her: “Is there anything you are grateful for today? Anything at all?” And every week the woman said, “No. My life is terrible.” Truly, the woman’s life was very hard, bleak like a New Jersey winter. Gray and sad, with slushy snow and freezing rain that ices over and just causes trouble. For this woman, spring never came.

Then one day, the woman came to therapy, and before my friend could speak she said, “I have it! I found something to be grateful for!” Surprised, my friend leaned in and asked, “What is it? Tell me!” The woman smiled broadly and said, “Oxygen. I am grateful for oxygen.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Morning Meditations on #BodiesMatter


This post is part of the #BodiesMatter Link Up at
I'm struggling this morning to write this post—as I often do when writing to a prompt.

#BodiesMatter

Whose bodies matter?
Every-Body matters?
Any-Body matters?
Some-Body matters?

It’s clear from the evidence all about me that SOME bodies matter more than others in our twisted, broken, racist, sexist, classist, transphobic, heterosexist society—oh yes, layers and layers of hierarchy and pain.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cysts of the Soul

I injured my knee last weekend. In the process, I stumbled into a metaphor for emotional triggers. So grab an ice pack, put up your leg, and join me in a little mental exercise. I promise no stairs.

I'm happy to report that I am recovering, and it is likely not serious. But for a couple of days I was really scared that I had torn a ligament or cartilage. I thought back to what it cost me to break a pinky finger last year, and I started to freak out about the time and money and effort that might be needed for surgery and physical therapy. I was, for a couple of days, trying to figure out how I was going to

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Raft of the Fire Ants

Fire Ant Raft, by Maggie
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
preached at Ewing Presbyterian Church, Ewing, NJ

Scripture Readings:

For our children's sermon today, we read Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. When you see injustice, when you see pain, may you be an Interrupting Chicken and intervene with yes, even God, like Abraham, like the persistent widow. We are a people of disruption, thanks be to God!

I come to you this morning as a youth pastor. A tired youth pastor, I have to say. Last weekend was our Love of God retreat—it was the 8th such retreat in New Jersey since 2012. Some of our Ewing students helped lead the retreat, and you should be proud of them—very proud.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Critically Engaging

Jon Jordan,
tucked away under the Manchurian Way by Cambridge Street

Yesterday I preached a sermon I titled "Mad Love". I was a guest preacher in a congregation that did not know me at all, filling in for a seminary colleague who was gracious enough to ask.

The sermon was based on a reading from Song of Songs, and as part of my point in the sermon was that Song of Songs can provide a disruptive force to our usual decency and order, I decided not to write a manuscript. I preached from notes--a practice some people affectionately call "extemporaneous preaching."

I dislike extemporaneous preaching intensely, preferring to preach from a manuscript. Preaching from notes often leads me to preach in stories, circling around my points, repeating myself, and occasionally straying from my course. I prefer the tightness of a manuscript, in which extraneous language, inappropriate commentary, and repetition have been excised.

Yesterday was also the first time I have been videotaped while preaching (to my knowledge) since seminary. It was a rare opportunity for me to review and critique myself. Even audio recordings do not provide the same chance to really look at oneself. It is...disconcerting. 

Since I did not manuscript my sermon, I had to transcribe it after the fact. I have now spent several hours slowly watching myself preach while typing out the words I spoke. It was both delightful and

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Put On The WHOLE Armor

Sunday, August 23, 2015
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
Thank you for your hospitality and generosity of spirit.

Scripture Readings John 6:56-59 and Ephesians 6:10-20

Today's sermon is for Radazz Hearns.
Today's sermon is for our community of Trenton and Mercer County.
Today's sermon is for all those who long for a better world.


It’s been a quiet month since I last was with you. Another whole lazy month of summer gone by, and here we are at the end of August. School will start in 2 weeks for most of our children. Since I saw you last there has only been one murder here in Trenton, Mr. Leon Boota McClendon. I attended his funeral with great sadness. I give thanks for more than 30 days of a break in such violence.

Monday, August 17, 2015

For a mother, who wasn't easy.


Scripture readings:
Psalm 23 and Romans 8:38-39

Perhaps this is for my grandmother. Or perhaps for your mother. Or maybe your friend. Or maybe your patient. We are sometimes mourned in complicated ways.

A  lot of people will say a lot of things around the death of our loved ones.  And there might be a lot of words in your own hearts and minds about the death of your mother, your grandmother, your friend. I’m here to tell you today that all of the words and emotions and sorrows and laughter are appropriate and right in this time of grief. In one moment you may miss your mother with the entirety of your being, another moment you might be SO angry, and in the next, you may be doubled over with laughter because of a memory or a story about her life with you.

Oh yes, this is a time of many, many emotions, and I’m here today to say that God is big enough for all of them. The God who created this woman from the very beginning, and the same God who even

Monday, August 10, 2015

Like a Mother Hen

How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! ~Matthew 23:37

I'm finally getting around to writing my Wild Goose Festival post. Wild Goose, held this year in early July at Hot Springs Campground, in North Carolina, is a 4 day festival of music, theology, social justice, spirituality, and joy. This was my fourth year attending and my third year as a volunteer chaplain for the festival. 

I haven't been blogging regularly this year, and both my professional and personal life have been in need of earnest prayer, difficult work, and deliberate sabbath. This all meant that it's been a month since I got home from Wild Goose, and this is the first time I've felt like writing about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Leaky Ministry

Three and a half years ago, I started working on a collaborative youth ministry with students in and around Trenton, NJ. We began with 2 churches, quickly added a 3rd. A 4th church joined us for a while and then left. A 5th church flirts with our ministry now and then. It's been an incredible few years. We currently have over 100 youth and young adults from 5th grade through college age who participate on a regular basis. Our ministry has expanded outside of the churches' boundaries into the surrounding neighborhoods, bringing together a wild mix of people from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It has been exhilarating and challenging.

Over the last year, one of our churches has been in conversation with me about stepping out of our collaboration. My last day on staff with Covenant Presbyterian Church will be July 31. Because of

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Where The Remnant Will Gather

Sunday, July 19, 2015
Sermon by Katie Miulligan
Many thanks to Rev. Daniel Eisenberg for the invitation to preach.

Scripture Readings:

Jeremiah 23:1-6 (the sermon was focused around this scripture)
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (I read this scripture prior to the sermon according to the habits of this church. While the Mark passage was on my mind while working on the sermon, I did not explicitly connect it.)

Today's audio recording came out well, so I am not providing a transcript. This sermon was preached almost entirely from notes. So for those of you who keep asking if I ever preach without a manuscript, yes; yes I do. 

Click here to listen to or download the audio: Where The Remnant Will Gather

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What's Next

Sunday, July 5, 2015
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
Preached at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton, NJ

Scripture: Mark 6:1-13


It has been a difficult month in the City of Trenton. Five men and one boy have been murdered since May 31. I have been in constant prayer for the families and loved ones of Paris France Way, Ronnie Livingston, Harvey Sharp, Edwin Saddler, Jah’vae Miney, and Edward Kevin Nock. They left behind mothers and fathers,

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Gird Up Your Loins

Guest Preacher Socks
Sermon from today, June 21, 2015

This is just audio. Not sure if or when I will transcribe it.
It isn't enough, this sermon, or our prayers, or our dearest, heartfelt wishes. But let us build on those and change the world through the work of our hands and the love of God.

Particularly, this is a call to mostly white folks to take up their tools at hand (whatever's in your purse, backpack, the trunk of your car), to do the ministry that is right in front of you. Embrace communities and people of color as your own. That is our beginning. Our next step

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Meow Meow Gay Gay

Following along a conversation about desire (and in the comments of course it turns to homosexual desire) that goes something like this: "Giving in to our urges/desires cannot be consistent with the Gospel. Resisting temptation is God's will for us."

And I guess that makes sense if one is tempted to evil, nasty things. And if one believes that homosexuality is an evil, nasty thing, then probably I'm not going to convince you.

But God sometimes surprises us when we pray for temptation to be removed. Sometimes God says, "Hey, go ahead and eat that cookie. I put it there for you."

So for instance, I have traditionally fed my cats dry kibble because it is good for their teeth to crunch on things, it keeps them leaner, it is cheaper for my budget--in short, it's healthier. But last week I

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Will I See You Tomorrow?

Thinking through 1 John 4:7-12...


In January I stayed with the Church of All Nations in Minneapolis, MN. CAN graciously offered me a little basement hideout where I could spend some weeks of vacation and study leave, living in community at the Chatham House with several other adults in their 30's. (Shut up. I could totally pass for my 30's.)

CAN has several community housing arrangements, including a residential seminary, some folks living in converted Sunday School classrooms at the church, and several other church members who have opened their homes to those who wish to live in community. Communal living is at the heart of

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Take a Chance on a Kid

A while back, before I went to seminary, I worked for the YMCA for a bunch of years. I ran summer camps, and we hired 30 or so staff over the summer. About half of those staff would stay on through the next school year, working with our after school programs. One or two would direct the next year's camps, move up through the organization, and then, eventually, they would leave us.

They left us for better jobs, for which I always served as a reference, cheerfully.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Child Sexual Assault

Today my Facebook and Twitter timelines have been flooded with the story of Josh Duggar and his alleged sexual assault of several children. This story is tragic and common.

I was sexually assaulted by a relative as a child. There are parallels from my life to this story, minus the celebrity complication.

We have not figured out as a society how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part this is because pedophilia does not seem to respond well to available treatments. And so what does one do with those who perpetrate.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because many

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Mothering: Cursing and Blessing

Sunday, May 10, 2015
Sermon by Katie Mulligan

Scripture Readings:

I recorded the sermon on my laptop. It's not the greatest recording, but for those of you who prefer to listen than read...click here


This morning I welcome all of you who have been mothers, are mothers, long to be mothers, have had a mother, are missing a mother. For those of us fortunate enough to be gathered in the loving company of our mothers or children today, I give thanks and praise! For those of us who are separated from their mothers or children through distance, estrangement, or death, my heart aches with you. My own mother is 3,000 miles from here. My children are not with me today.

Perhaps you are not a “mother” in the sense of the word normally permitted to us. Perhaps you are a man. Perhaps you have not birthed or adopted or raised or parented a human child. I welcome you here still. For what makes a mother goes far beyond our reproductive capacity. To mother is to birth life into existence, to sustain life, and to mourn life as it ends. Perhaps you have mothered a ministry,

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tongue Tied

Frank Thone
Smithsonian Institute
I spent an hour or so today at the Ripley's Museum in Atlantic City. It isn't my usual thing, but it was a miserably cold and windy and rainy day at the shore, so we needed something indoors to entertain us. Someone had vomited in the pool, so off we went to the museum.

It's a strange place, and the combination of the macabre, the absurd, the racist, the bizarre, the sad brought out all sorts of emotions as I made my way through the exhibits. The entrance took me into a winding hallway that opened into exhibit rooms. It was a one-way street, and once through the exit, you can't go back.

Early on in the exhibits, there was a large mirror with an exhibit of the winners of an annual "funny face" contest on display. An instructional video plays nearby explaining what

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tenebrae

Tonight's worship was a Service of Shadows, in which we read the story of Jesus' death. After each scripture was read, another candle was extinguished, until even the Christ candle (lit on Christmas Day) was gone.

Last year I was a wreck during this service:
By the time we got to the Service of Shadows on Thursday night, I was exhausted by all of the emotions drawn from me by this season. As we told the story of Jesus' death, and the candles were extinguished one by one, I let everything come together. The last candle went out and all I could do was weep and whisper, "Too much loss. Please don't die." For Mary's son, yes. And also for my own circumstances.
In fact, all of last year was a sorrowful mess. I had blogged about grief all the way through Lent, but the grief didn't stop on Easter morning. April, May, June, July...all the way through December. And

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wandering Puppies and Thirsty Wood

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the wild does:
do not stir up or awaken love
until it is ready!


I am spending the week in West Virginia with a group of young adults. We are painting and constructing and demolishing, lending a hand to local home improvement projects

This morning, when we arrived at the house to work, a puppy came wandering over to see what we were doing. He came right up, tail wagging, tongue out, ready to play and sniff and get his ears scratched. Someone asked if he was a wild dog.

It's a reasonable question for city folk who don't know dogs--the dogs here just wander about, sometimes in groups. If you're not local, it's hard to tell whose dog is whose. But one thing for sure,

Monday, February 9, 2015

No More Snow

What do you say when
there's
really nothing
to be said?
If you can't say anything
nice
don't
say anything at all
mama said.
well.
how long do you let that go on?

Boston be pushing snow out
into
bodies
of
water.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

To Walk by Brooks of Water


Pacific Crest Trail by Junaid Dawud
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Sermon by Katie Mulligan
preached at Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church

This morning for the children's sermon, I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carles. And I told the children about how when the caterpillar goes inside the cocoon, its body liquifies and becomes a puddle of goo inside the cocoon. I said that this HAS to happen in order for the butterfly to form out of the liquid goo. And one of the children said, "Oh! THAT is why when they first come out of the cocoon that their wings are wet!" And yes, the butterfly