Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012: I Wish You Love


Family. Friends. National. International. Random. Memories are different in each person’s eyes, mind, ears and heart: time to stir mine. 

Arab Spring. OBL. Gabrielle. 
Cleveland. Gratitude. Life. 
Grover & friend in Cleveland just after surgery.
Time Turner. 

I Remember Mama.
Tunisia. Political Clowns. Occupy. Libya. Egypt. Gilad. Nisreen. Iran. Joplin. Tahrir. Tuscaloosa. Yemen. SEALS. Harry Potter. USCG. Pakistan. Annie & Jennie.

Euro. W-S. Raleigh. Bay High, Oxford, Emory. Iraq. 9-9-9. Norway. HNEC. Sesquicentennial 1861 - 2011.

Bible Study. Earthquake Tsunami Nuclear. William & Kate. Steve Jobs. Nittany Lions. Burial at Sea. Syria. Atlantis. HNES. North Korea. Jelly Bean. Afghanistan. 

Merry Christmas. 
Stirred mine.
Stir your own.

Happy New Year: 
I wish you joy,
but above all this
I wish you love.


Thanks, Dolly Parton. "I wish you love."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Football Cars Religion

Not usually an FSU fan, but v. ND made it easy. 0-14 to 18-14. Still not a Noles fan, but what a fantastic game.
Automotive News on line this morning had a link to Vinsetta Garage that linked to AutoWeek’s website

and an article on Auctions America’s disposal of the Lee Roy Hartung collection. 

The 1950 Edwards R-26 Roadster. Photo by Auctions America.
1950 Veritas BMW with coachwork by Spohn. Photo by Auctions America.

Everyday isn’t about religion. Some days are about football. All days are about cars.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Highlight of Christmas has always been the Christmas Eve service and family gathered. Nearly everyone was here. Joe leaves this morning on a 6:30 flight for NC. To celebrate early with Joe, for supper last night Linda fixed traditional New Years Day dinner -- hoppin’ john, collard greens, rutabaga. 

hoppin' john ingredients

  • black-eyed peas
  • ham bone 
  • chicken broth instead of water
  • garlic powder
  • white rice

Sadness when everyone is gone -- having beloveds here is Christmas happiness -- a noisy house, and gratitude for a Christmas that a year ago was not expected for me!!
Sunset down front -- looking west over neighbors' dock.

Next project. Tuesday morning Bible study for Lent Term 2012. They had enough of Saint Paul, maybe we’ll study Mark and John. Mark, our first and oldest gospel. John, newest gospel and totally different from the synoptics. Stir in a bit of Anglicanism. Scripture, Tradition and Reason. lex orandi lex credendi. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Decembers years ago, we lived in cold, wintry climes. Not always, but often. Rhode Island, Washington DC, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Bare trees, bleak sky. Bitter cold, freezing wind, overcast and drear, icy roads, snowplow scraping by during the night, and the salt truck rumbling by, sidewalk and driveway to shovel, icy windshield to scrape. A freezing car to shiver into for the drive to work through filthy snow piled high on either side of the road. Nostalgic: my heart and mind would be in Florida, Bay County, along St. Andrew Bay -- where, in nostalgic vision, it would be a proper December, damp, chilly fog in the evening and early morning, yielding to a warm day, sunshine, even balmy. Longing to be home.
From my upstairs front porch looking across the Bay, Tuesday morning was overcast, damp and chilly, foggy mist on the Bay -- just as my imagination had visualized all those evenings and mornings years ago. Made me nostalgic for my December days of nostalgia for home.
Nostalgia for nostalgia? Nostalgic for days of being nostalgic for home? Choose: dream or reality. Yesteryear or 2011.
The MacBook camera does not capture the brilliant sunrise that the eye sees this morning.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Holy Name    January 1
Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name
of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart,
we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our
Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
A monogram of the name of Jesus Christ. From the third century the names of our Saviour are sometimes shortened, particularly in Christin inscriptions (IH and XP, for Jesus and Christus). In the next century the "sigla" (chi-rho) occurs not only as an abbreviation but also as a symbol. From the beginning, however, in Christian inscriptions the nomina sacra, or names of Jesus Christ, were shortened by contraction, thus IC and XC or IHS and XPS for Iesous Christos. These Greek monograms continued to be used in Latin during the Middle Ages. Towards the close of the Middle Ages IHS became a symbol, quite like the chi-rho in the Constantinian period. IHS was sometimes wrongly understood as "Jesus Hominum (or Hierosolymae) Salvator", i.e. Jesus, the Saviour of men. (quoted from The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Flash mob singing for those who want a blessing this morning:
This coming Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The observance varies among Churches, we celebrate it on January 1, and it takes precedence over the regular lectionary readings for the Sunday. In the 1928 BCP, the day was named The Circumcision of Christ:
The Circumcision of Christ.
[January 1.]
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Philippians ii. 9.
GOD also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more inmy absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Gospel. St. Luke ii. 15.
AND it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Every Christmas is different, every family gathering is unique from all others before and all others that will be. Each time, the dynamic has changed, there are new sounds, a different mix of voices. Everyone is older than last time. Children have grown and matured. Someone has relocated to a new job and lives at too great a distance to be here. Someone else is gone forever, leaving an empty chair that cannot be filled. There may be a new baby, or a visitor. 
December 25, 2011 was my first Christmas without my mother. It was different, made me think wanderingly of Christmases long ago and far away. Christmas 1969 my ship was at sea in WestPac, off Vietnam. There was no email or cellphone in those days, but you could sign up, get on the list for a phone call home, and I did. Someone will correct me, but seems to me it was single sideband, not like a phone call at home, it was back and forth, you spoke, and when you paused the channel switched to the other end. Bit awkward and ten minutes was your limit. “Daddy. When are you coming home?” When that Christmas phone call ended, my loneliness, homesickness for beloveds at home in San Diego was excruciating, physically painful.
Just before Christmas the following year, December, 1970, Linda’s father died. They were living in Scottsdale, Arizona, close driving distance from San Diego. After the funeral, Linda’s mother came home to San Diego with us for Christmas. Her sadness was -- the word is palpable. 
Christmas 1973 we were living in Columbus, Ohio and instead of coming home to Panama City we stayed in Columbus. Santa brought a new sled and we had snow and rode the sled at night. Tass was almost two years old. One of her gifts was a doll crib, which she promptly climbed into, laid down, and shouted, “Mom! Look at her! Daddy, look!” 
Christmases 1963, 1964 and 1965 we were stationed in Japan. The Navy Purchasing Office in Yokosuka purchased Christmas trees for all U. S. Armed Forces throughout the Far East. From forests in Hokkaido, they were cut in October. Needles shed as we brought our tree into the house.      
Christmas 1962 the Navy had me studying for an MBA degree at the University of Michigan. For Christmas that year, Linda’s parents gave us train tickets home. We got on the train in Ann Arbor, changed in Cincinnati, had a warm and comfortable bedroom, detrained the next day in Pensacola. Arriving home in Panama City we found that my parents had purchased this old house where we live now. Built by my grandparents in 1912-1913, it had passed out of the family in 1920 because they moved away after Alfred’s death. During WW2 someone made it into four apartments; but Christmas vacation 1962 my father and I tore out dividing partitions and converted it back to the single family home he grew up in.
Here for Christmas 2011: Malinda, Kristen, Joe, Tass, Jeremy, Caroline, Charlotte, Linda and me. Plenty of room, because with both leaves, the dining room table holds twelve. English crackers and your hat, a turkey with four legs so everyone who wants a drumstick gets one, 
stuffing, oyster dressing, squash casserole, oven roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, English roasted potatoes, gravy, English bread sauce, chocolate cake, bread pudding with whiskey sauce, English Christmas pudding with brandy butter. A nice pinot noir. Sunday evening while the girls rode Caroline’s new scooter up and down the concrete walkway that my grandfather put down front, everyone went outside and picked grapefruit from the trees, harvested 87 grapefruit, some pink, some ruby red. The trees grew quickly from seeds planted by Linda’s mother a dozen years ago. When she had grapefruit for breakfast, she’d save a few seeds then go outside, punch a hole in the ground with a finger, shove a seed in and cover it up. The trees are mature and this year prolific. The thorns are long, sharp, eager to puncture.
Christmas 2011 was unique, Sunday, so church first. 
A beautiful day, as is every day of life and love. Next Christmas will be different. None of us is entitled to the future, and there’s no gain in worrying how next year will be. As Mike Cazalas said in Sunday’s PC News-Herald, we live in the moment, it’s all we have. Enjoy. Love. Be grateful. Cherish the moment, it won’t be here again.
The little girls are up now, playing a game on Caroline’s iPad. Caroline, eight, will be nine in a few weeks, is wearing her bike helmet. Charlotte is six. My love: a house with children. Loving the little girls. Cherishing the moment.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bows of Folly

Deck the Halls with Bows of Folly Fa la la la la la la la la
Carroll the Ancient Yuletide Troll aka CtAYT or ςτ 8 came in wee hours with gifts for Beloved Kiddywinks who are expected late morning. Late breakfast awaits them, Kringles of various sorts and flavors, tea, coffee, milk, juice. Before they arrive at 2308 WBD, ςτ 8 will depart to officiate ten-thirty worship, which this year doubles as both Sunday morning and Christmas Day service. No long sermon. More, homilette.
One of many blessings and joys of being Priest Associate at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, PC is feeling most welcome. Another is zero parish administration. Another is being able to focus on my interest, Bible classes. Another is being able to help in any way the rector wants or needs, which is a blessing and joy to me, and includes officiating at HNEC this morning. 
Christmas Gift. Joys and blessings of 2011 were family and friends, loved ones all, who flew me to Cleveland in January, visited and looked after me there. And when the nurse at Cleveland Clinic asked, “Would you like to see a Hospital Chaplain before you go to surgery?” I said, “No thank you, my priest is here.” She said, “You’ve come up from Florida, and your priest is here?” Indeed. Those joys and blessings have lifted me all year long. And being blessed with life this Christmas Day makes my joy complete.  
So -- how many services do we have at HNEC this morning?
ONE. 10:30.  
Merry Christmas. 
Not to mention Festivus.
I said not to mention it.

ςτ 8

Saturday, December 24, 2011

One Shopping Day Left Till XMAS

Decent coffee this morning. Cup upstairs in bed about three thirty while finishing up everything in the August 29 issue of The New Yorker. Read the fiction short story and articles about the fiat dollar, tarot card art, piece about people gathering to update Wikipedia articles, letters to editor ... everything but theater, book, and movie reviews.
Coffee from the upstairs Keurig, which is not well stocked, so used a re-run cup plus a spoon of instant. Had it in my Hog Mug that Joe gave me years ago. On the side it reads “Harley-Davidson Classic Tank Designs Circa 1935.” Being one of my treasures, it’s kept upstairs and no one is allowed to touch it. 
Downstairs for the second cup of coffee and breakfast: one slice whole wheat bread, smear mayonnaise, slice fresh pineapple, folded over. Just like the good old days.
The Good Old Days were not reality, they were just a short time of my growing up years to remember passing through; everyone looks back on the good old days, and they’re different for each person and shift depending on subject fondly recalled. Years hence, this morning will be The Good Old Days for someone. Anyway, in the good old days when the Christmas Season didn’t start before Halloween, the Panama City News Herald used to have a tiny cartoon in the lower right hand corner of the Front Page starting the day after Thanksgiving, counting down each day. Christmas Eve, one shopping day ‘til XMAS. Certainly hope they have a Whitman’s Sampler left at Walgreens.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The New Yorker

Joe subscribes to The New Yorker and delighted me by bringing a stack of current back issues as an early Christmas surprise. It has been my favorite magazine since first finding out about it traveling on commercial airlines, what, fifty years ago? Every article is excellent if a bit lengthy, the fiction is invariably engaging, the cartoons are without equal, the poetry is good, especially when it’s elusive. Imaginative, artsy covers.
A relaxing airplane trip and a good visit to the doctor’s office are ones that yield a copy of The New Yorker in the magazine rack. Doesn’t matter about the age. My style typically is to read through start to finish except in a waiting room, when it’s a quick thumb through to catch all the cartoons, then start the fiction piece and try to speed read it before my name is called. 
Only one of the magazines Joe brought has been opened so far, August 29, 2011. Excellent: Letter from Damascus, telling first hand what's going on in Syria.The Life and Times of Rin Tin Tin, the cinema dog star my mother got me infatuated with as a small child. An intriguing piece about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Virginia. An article about Charles Dickens that was so interesting it got me bogged down in downloading and plowing into two Dickens novels, Little Dorrit and Great Expectations. His novels are available on-line, just download the links and read, free.
Every year in California there’s a week long Dickens camp, to which Dickens fanatics come from all over the world. Each year they read one novel, which is assigned ahead of time, and there are discussions, lectures, seminars about it, with literary scholars, enthusiasts, teachers, professors, movie stars, ordinary folks, people from early teens to doddering. The most recent selection was Great Expectations, for which the camp apparently was thronged with people, including singles (?) who evidently also came with Great Sexpectations, as betrayed by the grass in their hair.    
Joe brought about a dozen issues, and they will be my reading dessert, stretched out for as long as possible. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


A happy memory of my five years as priest at St. Thomas by the Sea is being a block from the Gulf of Mexico. My office opened to the outside and the door was frequently hooked open for the salty air and breeze. And the sound of the sea, which some days could be deafening, being close enough to hear individual waves crashing ashore. Opening to the upstairs front porch, my bedroom here has the same advantage of salt breeze, though coming four miles across St. Andrew Bay the roar of the surf is muted and distant. Just so this morning.
Yesterday’s weather was intermittently stormy and the Bay choppy, but we made our journey. Five to seven foot seas in the Gulf discouraged that trip, so instead of going outside we made the inside run down to the Old Pass, getting as close as we could in shallow water and cold rain to cast ashes. Just as well: inside was the route Annie & Jennie sailed to the Old Pass that last night January 7, 1918.
Walt, Joe, John, Megan, Jack, James, me.
Psalm 139  Domine, probasti
O LORD, you have searched me out, and known me. *
    You know my sitting down and my rising up;
    You understand my thoughts long before.
You are about my path, and about my bed, *
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
For lo, there is not a word in my tongue, *
    but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
You have beset me behind and before, *
    and laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me; *
    I cannot attain unto it.
Where shall I go then from your Spirit? *
    or where shall I go then from your presence?
If I climb up into heaven, you are there; *
    if I go down to hell, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning, *
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also your hand shall lead me, *
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me, *
    then shall my night be turned to day.
Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, 
but the night is as clear as day; *
    the darkness and light to thee are both alike.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Xmas Esoterica

Christmas: the Kingdom of Heaven
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11, KJV)
If Easter is the core theology of Christianity, Christmas is its enchantment. Growing up I longed for a White Christmas, gazing hopefully at the sky, knowing full well it would never snow. And time, tantalizing time. A clear memory is a Christmas Eve, 1940s, Panama City, playing outside barefoot, short pants and no shirt, agonizing that bedtime would never come, Christmas Eve the longest day of the year, waiting for Santa Claus, Christmas dawn an eternity away,
By that time of childhood, Christmas was a season of dichotomy, reluctant knowing but choosing to believe anyway because faith is choice not knowledge and wisdom not folly, fearing that Santa knows and bypasses doubters, a stocking of coals and outer darkness awaits unbelievers. Besides which, forbidden to spill the beans to still innocent siblings.
O holy night when secular parallels hallowed, and sacred partners profane; when certitude yields to mystery, Santa comes to Bethlehem, myth is victorious, and Didymus recites the Creed. 
Christmas is esoteric, a magical, mythical medley of treasured memories, beloved stories and songs, sacred and secular stirred together. Shepherds and sleighs, elves and angels, evergreen trees and stables, swaddling cloths and magi, holy family in the creche and cookies and milk on the hearth, north pole and Bethlehem, babe in the manger and reindeer on the roof, bread and wine, Body and Blood. Stockings and pageants, carols, choirs and children.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house ...
Christmas does not want sorting out. Jingle bells and Adeste fideles are not incompatible. We wish you a merry Christmas and God rest ye merry, gentlemen. Silent Night and Here comes Santa Claus. Hark, the herald angels sing and Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Childish things that were put away may be gotten out again.
Verily I say unto you, Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3 KJV)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Titus 2:11-14
The Message (MSG)
 11-14God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
Titus 3:4-7
The Message (MSG)
 3-8It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.
Christmas is the only time the Lectionary takes us into Titus, and the verses offered are 2:11-14 and 3:4-7. Titus is a short epistle that many scholars consider pseudonymous, written as from Paul to Titus, a helper and companion now doing missionary work on Crete. 

The letter encourages sound doctrine and virtuous living, and the two Lectionary selections for Christmas are about the eternal salvation that God offers through Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nutty as a Fruitcake
In a hundred years it won’t matter when I lived, because, obviously, I will be as gone as George Washington is gone, as gone as the Roman centurion at Calvary is gone, as gone as Abraham. Sometimes I wonder whether there is any consciousness after death; that is to say, any consciousness of life on earth. The church already believes that there is Something not Nothing: if that is so, what is the nature of it? My life has been at a good time for me, not least due to modern medical science saving my life with a tonsillectomy, an appendectomy, and open heart surgery. And also because of my fascination with modern electronic gadgets, one of which, being typed on at the moment, has me instantly in touch with any connected person anywhere in the world, and can take and transmit my photo as I sit here, God forbid. George Washington would be astonished, not to mention Abraham. 
But when it comes to gadgets, my love for automobiles is all surpassing -- especially love for cars of the late 1920s, all 1930s cars, most 1940s cars, and many early 1950s cars. And the way America was in that late 20s to early 50s era is nostalgically most appealing to me, travel by train, including getting up to shut the coach window when the wind shifts and locomotive smoke starts drifting in, shut the window quick before there are cinders. 

As I said, a hundred years from now it won’t matter when I lived; and so if I could have chosen when to live, in America, my choice is to be born some forty years earlier. Have to wait a hundred years to exercise that choice, though, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here nutty as a fruitcake this morning.
Train has a interesting song that might suffice for a post-modern Christmas carol, Shake Up Christmas.
U2 has any number of songs that could beneficially replace systematic theology classes in seminary. Not least: In The Name Of Love.
Another war is over for us. Fascinating story this morning about an Iraqi teen who in 2003 actually welcomed us to liberate his country from Saddam, and who believes that what we did was worth the tremendous cost. He's an American soldier now.
Answer: Nothing; car and train pictures stirred it up.

Question: What have you been smoking this morning?

Happy Holidays!


Sunday, December 18, 2011


In our gospel reading this morning, Luke 1:26-38, Mary is surprised by the same angel who recently visited Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah with like news from God: Mary will bear a son. Luke tells us her response: πως εσται τουτο επει ανδρα ου γινωσκω. Literally, “How shall this since man not I know.” Every English translation renders it differently, some more delicately than others, but what Mary says is that she has never been with a male. Thus we have the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth. We shall discuss it in our Sunday School class this morning. Come join us. Mary Stuart Poole Library, 9:15 a.m.


Fra Filipo Lippi, The Annunciation

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Burial at Sea

My father died suddenly and unexpectedly in July 1993, and we were not quite sure why. Just before Christmas a year and a half earlier, he had had emergency open heart surgery for valve replacement and bypass grafts, and he probably took his meds faithfully, but he refused to follow through with any sort of exercise program as his cardiologist recommended. During our usual Fourth of July family reunion he apparently picked up a cold, or the flu, or perhaps something that caused infection, we never knew. Mama took him to hospital and he died suddenly a day or so later. Mama and I were with him in the hospital when he had a sudden event, and I remember the physician saying, "I don't know what has happened, but it's catastrophic." He died a few minutes later, to our shock and my mother's total devastation. He was 82. His ashes have been in the columbarium at Holy Nativity. My mother died in July 2011 at age 99, and her ashes have been beside his.
In my mother’s will she asked that her ashes and my father’s ashes be mixed and scattered at sea, perhaps from John Carroll’s boat. We have looked toward a time when everyone in the family who wants to participate can be here, and the first opportunity will be when family are here during the Christmas holidays. That will be next week. The plan, weather permitting, is to scatter some ashes on Massalina Bayou in front of the house where we grew up, some on St. Andrews Bay in front of this house on West Beach Drive (then Bayview Avenue) that our grandparents built in 1912-1913, and some outside the Old Pass where my father’s brother Alfred died when the schooner Annie & Jennie wrecked in the storm in January 1918.
God willing, and the wind is from the north, and the Gulf and Bay don’t storm.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Christmastime through the 1940s into the ‘50s my job was stirrer. Candy stirrer. Mama’s kitchen was alive with smells. Fudge. Toffee. Date roll. Pecan roll. Divinity. My job was stirrer. Gina and Walt probably helped later, but my growing up years the stirrer job was mine. Stirrer got to lick the spoon.. Stirring was hard work, stir until it stiffens and nevermind the elbow. But stirrer did not have to share the spoon.
Mama made candy sure as Christmas came round. And sweet tradition lives on. Christmastime these years, Tass makes peanut butter balls and Jeremy bakes bite-size mince pies and Christmas cake.   

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Mark Haddon’s the curious incident of the dog in the night-time stirred me to read a spot of bother. Haddon gets inside the head of George, Jean, Katie, Jamie, nearly everyone. But not David. David?
The war in Iraq was declared ended a few minutes ago. Personal memories of my country ending a war. Newsreels of Dachau. Mushroom cloud. Helicopters desperately lifting people to U. S. Navy warships offshore as Saigon was overrun. Marine barracks at Beirut Airport 1983. Blackhawk Down 1993. Victory declaration aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN 2003. Afghanistan?
Sunday School this week: Virgin Birth. Sermon? Roaming a junkyard while singing “On the Wings of a Nightingale” the Everly Brothers rescue a 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible. Is there a ’57 Chevy in my sermon junkyard?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

House and Lineage of David

2Samuel 7
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ 3Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’
4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders* of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ 8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15But I will not take* my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me;* your throne shall be established for ever. 17In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people,* O Lord God! 20And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. 22Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another* nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them,* by driving out* before his people nations and their gods?* 24And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people for ever; and you, O Lord, became their God. 25And now, O Lord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it for ever; do as you have promised. 26Thus your name will be magnified for ever in the saying, “The Lord of hosts is God over Israel”; and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, “I will build you a house”; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 29now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed for ever.’
This coming Sunday, Advent 4, our Old Testament reading is from the seventh chapter of Second Samuel. Under God's protection, David has struck down the Philistines, and has now brought the Ark of the Covenant into the City of David. As he rests comfortably in his magnificent palace of cedar, it occurs to him that while he lives in luxury God abides in a tent; and that he should build a fine house for God. He consults with his prophet Nathan, who tells David that God will be pleased. That night, however, the word of the Lord comes to Nathan saying that David is not to build God a house; that, rather, God will build David a house, by which he means a dynasty, which we know as the house and lineage of David. God's says that the house that David had intended to build for God will be built later by his heir. 

This is what happened, and we call that structure the Temple of Solomon. We aren’t sure exactly what it looked like, but there are any number of artist conceptions. That temple was destroyed about 586 BC when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and Judah.

Sunday’s lesson is a portion of 2 Samuel 7 that relates to this dynasty, which God assures David will be everlasting. It’s the precursor to the Gospel from Luke, in which the angel Gavriel tells the Blessed Virgin Mary that the child she is to bear will fulfill God’s promise to David: Jesus will inherit the everlasting throne of the house and lineage of David.
For the curious, it’s interesting and worthwhile to go back and start at 2 Samuel 5 and read chapters 5, 6, and 7 to see what’s going on. We see God's loving guidance of David. We discover what happens to one who touches the Ark of the Covenant; and we find out why David’s wife Michal, daughter of King Saul, never had children.