Monday, April 24, 2017

amen

   
4:49 Monday morning, in two hours I should be parked at Holy Pavilion waiting for Robert to arrive for this morning’s walk. Overcast, low dense clouds by the look of still predawn light, we have a cool morning with pleasant if stiff breeze that will be a memory to die for come August.


Reading, occasional good stories such as A Gentleman in Moscow and fiction my children who know me know I will love. More often essays I come across at online news sites, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse this morning. 

In other reading, mounting concern with megalomaniacal narcissists whose pond for self adoration is evidently murky and choppy, unlike the reflection seen by the legendary god. We cannot see the hideous in ourselves. Let the reader understand. My worry is banty rooster strutting with DPRK.

God willing, a peaceful week ahead and let all the people say Amen.


DThos+

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Grant? It's up to you

Sermon/homily on Sunday, April 23, 2017, in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida. The Rev. Tom Weller

Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


John 20:19-31: that’s a fine gospel, but I’m not going to talk about the gospel, I’m going to talk about our collect for today. So, with every head bowed and every eye closed let us pray, as we listen closely to what we pray:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Easter mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: May we who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body show forth in our lives what we profess by our faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

So this is our Prayer of the Day then, from the 10th century Gregorian Sacramentary, our Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter. It’s printed in your worship booklet: for God’s sake, don’t throw it in the trash basket as you leave church today, take it home and look again, that’s your assignment for this week.

Praying, I changed the collect from third person to first person (that is, from “they” to “we”), and I changed the “literary mood” from imperative to subjunctive (from “grant” to “may”) in order to move the action onto us instead of unlikely, impossibly onto Almighty and Everlasting God. First because why on earth would we try to pass our responsibilities off onto our God? And second, because what’s the use anyway: when it comes to managing unruly, disobedient, self-directed, selfish humans, history evidences that God has laid self-imposed limits on God’s almightiness; and that from the time of Adam in the Garden, we submit less to the will of God and fall more under the enchanting spell of NawCawsh the serpent, at whose enticing lead we have ever since Eden insisted on being our own masters, Free Will, mindless, unsensible of the will of God.

Over against a theology of God’s own self-restraint, one alternative which I will in no wise entertain this morning, is that God, like Pontius Pilate at Gabbatha, has washed his hands of this failed human experiment, stepping back to let us fall and fail on our own. But the absence of God is not our Christian faith.

So, listen again:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

But no! The gospel is not about them, whoever they are, the gospel is about us, about me, about you. The lectionary collect is weasel words. Never happen.  Cannot work. God is not going to “grant that.” “God has no hands but our hands,” says an old prayer —

God has no hands but our hands to do his work today;
God has no feet but our feet to lead others in his way;
God has no voice but our voice to tell others how he died;
God has no help but our help to lead them to his side.

Collect notwithstanding though, the Second Sunday of Easter is not a day to scold you, the faithful remnant, and I’m not scolding, although I am struggling with this collect. We are in a new Season: Easter, weeks and weeks of joyful celebration, “Alleluia, Christ is risen, the Lord is risen indeed, Allelua!” and what “Christ is risen” means to us who seek to live by faith, is that God will raise us also, from death; and not only from death into a life to come, but into the joy of life in God’s kingdom, a “kingdom” into which you step the instant you accept Jesus into your heart, into your mind, into your life, into your way of living, as part of your Being. Thy kingdom come here and now.

I’m sorry but I don’t, I do not have a joke or other funny story to tell you this morning, instead I have an exhortation, a godly admonition (you can take it or leave it, and most will leave it): and my godly admonition is that you take God as seriously and lovingly as God takes you. “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you; because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” Easter is about what God has done and does for us because of chesed, a Hebrew word about God’s gracious lovingkindness.

There is no charge, salvation is free. I am not certain what “salvation” is, but I am certain that “salvation” is free. God loves us, God loves me, God loves you, do you believe that? Yes, you believe that, or you would not be here this morning. And believing that God loves you, do you love in return? Because, remember, love is not a feeling, love is action, something you do, how you live. Love goes both ways, meaning that you earnestly try, in your daily living, to live the Easter faith that you profess. “Grant that we who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in our lives what we profess by our faith.” But wait: “Grant”? God will not magically stand outside you and grant this, you must do it yourself, for yourself, in faithful response to Jesus’ resurrection. If you do not, God will not.

Listen again: from St. Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless people now.

Do not wait for God to “grant.” 
Christian, God has baptized you to “do.” 

Time

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …

Late yesterday afternoon, at a small gathering of family and friends dear to Father David and Olive Damon - - our first rector at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Father Damon officiated our wedding nearly sixty years ago, and I last talked with him a few days before he died fairly recently - -  I found a Publix brand ham as delicious as the costly Easter ham I ordered from out west.

Before that gathering, I’d officiated a funeral, burial service for friends of standing longer than my own life, going back all my growing up years, lo into the life of my grandfather and the 1936 hurricane that obliterated Pop’s fish house that was out on the pier where now stands Landmark Condominiums at WBeachDrive and Frankford Avenue. At this age, even the earthly residuals of my own personal memories slowly evaporate, dissipate into the ether of eternity. Not sad, it’s simply the nature and way of Creation and seasons of life on earth:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

  • a time to be born, and a time to die;

  • a time to kill, and a time to heal;

  • a time to break down, and a time to build up;

  • a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

  • a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

  • a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

  • a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

  • a time to get, and a time to lose;

  • a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

  • a time to rend, and a time to sew;

  • a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

  • a time to love, and a time to hate;

  • a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 KJV)


Again, neither sad nor maudlin, it’s simply deeply personal to watch reality disappear into history as the sun continues daily.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

match

There are two of us. I like our dishes, the plates we eat from at a meal, to match. We have a few sets of dishes. When we packed up and moved from the house, the children were given any sets they wanted, most were sold at auction, and we kept a few sets. The “good china” people gave us when we were married, I don’t like it, never did, never have, never will, but it's ours for life with all that signifies, and I'm not letting it go. Linda and her mother selected it, from England, it’s called Wedgwood “Blue Florentine” and the design around the rim has serpent tongues weaving in and out of the eyes of skulls, bon appetit. Our last semester at Florida, I showed it to my friend Jerry, who said, “Weller, I wouldn’t hit a hog in the rump with that.” 



For our marriage good silver, I wanted a pattern with a shell called something like “fiddle, shell, thread,” but Linda and Paint chose flatware that blended with Mrs. Peter’s "Francis I"  and now we have plenty of silver for any occasion. Of our brood, only Joe has wanted any of that, and has a complete set of, I think, six place settings, three Francis I and three Burgundy. Of course, Lucile wasn’t called “Paint” until Malinda arrived a few years later and started calling Linda’s mother “Paint,” but there it is anyway. 

We kept some elegant oriental china that was Linda’s mother’s, sent to auction something hideously garish she had that was reddish-orange and gold with grotesque orange peacocks or something, jiminy christmas. Kept an exquisite set of “half-blue” is the translation, that we long admired then finally saved up and bought at a china shop on Motomachi when we lived in Yokohama in the mid-1960s, the prettiest pattern I've ever known. I think I saved a set of twelve or sixteen elegant French or German dishes that I bought on eBay ten or a dozen years ago for use at like Thanksgiving when lots of family were over, white porcelain with a something-karat gold rim, I think they’re in a china cabinet in the pantry; or maybe I let those go to auction, or maybe gave them to Tass, I’m no longer sure of that or anything else. 

A couple of plain white melmac plates. A couple of Japanese white with blue designs that we used for breakfast this morning, we bought them years ago at Stone Lantern, Ralph DeVille's shop in Highlands, NC. A set of eleven (one missing obviously) Limoge dessert plates. Finally of course, my set of a dozen old fashioned ten-inch plates from Bayern, white porcelain with a delicate gold design in the gold rim, I bought them years ago, listed as dating 1937, that I call my “nazi dishes” that are now our everyday dishes. 

As I was saying, I like all the dishes on the table to match. Not a fetish by any means, but why not, it somehow lends a fabrication of order to life, of ordinariness, calm and control. Matching table mats. I don’t mind if the flatware is a mix of patterns, stainless, sterling, plated, but I want the plates to match. I’m not disturbed when that’s not the case, when Linda has one plate and gives me a different one ragtag, she doesn’t usually do that, but when it happens there’s an uneasy feeling that life is starting to unravel in its last surviving remnant of order and that the next stop will be the nursing home, slouched in a wheelchair in the front lobby, dozing and with my mouth open.


DThos+ in +Time+ and moving on

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday the 21st

God stuff

“Life is Good” says the sign on my orange hat, “Do what you love, love what you do.” That’s the way it is. Loving life, loving living at 7H, loving hearing what I hear, seeing what I see, doing what I do.

Even arising at one-thirty-odd in the wee hours to sacrifice to Father Nature, life is good. Even going back to bed, not being able to return to sleep, and quickly up again to write a funeral homily and arrange two psalms for responsive reading, life is good. But it’s now four-forty-four and sleepiness is returning, though if I go back to bed now, I’ll sleep halfway through the morning, past the walk, past breakfast, and not feel right about myself. 

So I’m eighty-one and’ve known since I was ten that I would be doing this throughout life, Gott Zeug, though I did manage to avoid it the middle twenty-five. But homilies, liturgy, sermons, pastoral calls, hospital, vest, smile beatifically, what. Religious, theological, political and social views. 

In America, someone was executed last night, put to death: what heinous act brought about capital judgment? It matters to me. Victim-oriented, I am not deontological about capital punishment. What might one do to someone else, by which offense one forfeits one’s right to live, to life? And does the system both preclude irreversible error while also extracting justice, as our old Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church had it, "punishment of wickedness and vice" ? 

War? war with DPRK, madman against madman, madness against madness? Does anyone besides me remember the Chinese hordes crossing the border by thousands upon thousands, what, November 1950? Saber-rattling is guaranteed to raise every national leader’s status, approval ratings, popularity. Whose tough-guy ratings are worth the life of a child? And to whom? 



Blowhard idiots, fools posturing, playing cowboy, daring, screaming “Draw!” we are about to find out. I have lived into the age of insanity; it’s fine for me to be down at the far end of +Time+ but what about my loved ones? What about your loved ones? What about their loved ones?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

heart

70.3°F 84% on 7H porch, gentlest breeze stirring the various lilies, orchids, rosemary; the tomato plant that has given us one red tomato now has two more near ready and several still green but growing. Black coffee and a square of Ghirardelli dark with cabernet grape. On a scale of one to ten, I’ll give this Florida morning a thirteen. No, there’s a haze over StAndrewsBay and reducing visibility across Shell Island into the Gulf, so I’m cutting that to an eleven. 



Holy Nativity Episcopal School, a ribbon cutting at Holy Pavilion, and a surprise more like a striking stun: one of the three large bronze plaques includes our name 



on this, a place of my heart since I started first grade there the day after Labor Day, September 1941. That this would be done for us steals my heart away.

My mother took me into the classroom, Ms Violet Heyward held out a yardstick and told me to kick at it, apparently I kicked with my right foot, whereupon she proclaimed me right-handed, led me to my desk and I looked around for mama but she was gone. On that first day of the rest of my life I found out that we are on our own.

DThos+ well along in +Time+  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

red and blue


Blue yesterday, not always blue, red Saturday morning as Lauritzen’s Indian Bulker 587x97 quietly slipped past Courtney Point with wood pellets for Immingham UK, 



but Tuesday was blue: a tug servicing the dredge along WBeachDrive, and Linea Line’s Guadalupe 326x55 making her regular loop between here and Progreso. 



The Lauritzen ships are among the largest that call at West Terminal, but the Star-named vessels of Griegstar into and out of East Terminal range to about 670x100 or more.

A tragedy? IDK, if there was tragedy it was his life, Aaron Hernandez of talent taking his life in prison to end a violent life and a murderous psychiatric set to his personality. He played life hostile, rough and irrational, I wonder whether brain damage was a factor. Life is not ours to waste. He might have been a star, a hero inspiring young athletes.

Wednesday, a treat. A ribbon cutting and supper out.

DThos+