Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Beautiful Day

A Beautiful Day

Yesterday morning started beautiful. Ordinary, ordinary as could be. Beautiful and ordinary. Thirty minutes on the treadmill, speed 2.8, incline 7, something over a mile slightly “uphill.” My plan for the morning: read psalms appointed in Lectionary B for the summer and see if they have anything to do with the Old Testament lessons to which they were meant to respond. And, oh, incidentally, a drain pipe was stopped up in Linda’s bathroom upstairs and we had not been able to open it. She called Whitehead to send a plumber, he came instantly, worked at it forty-five minutes, unclogged it with a plumber’s snake and was on his way. A few minutes later as I grabbed a BCP from the trunk of my car, Linda shouted out the back door, “Water is pouring through the dining room ceiling.”
Slam went the trunk lid, “Call the plumber back,” yells I, running upstairs to turn off all the water supply lines.
During WWII this house, which began with one bathroom when my grandparents built it in 1912-1913, was converted into four apartments; three more bathrooms were installed, two of them upstairs. The offending bathroom is over the dining room. As water poured from the ceiling and down the center chandelier, we began sopping up and moving furniture. The mess in the dining room was incredible, horrendous.

The Whitehead Plumbing construction team spent the rest of the day with us. They tore off two layers of ceiling sheetrock and cut out the tongue in groove ceiling to take down the dining room ceiling and get to the problem: the seventy year old cast iron drain pipe had given out, crumbled. 

John gave me the insurance company’s phone number to call, and the insurance folks were Johnny on the Spot, coming out to inspect and get repairs lined up, and taking away for immediate attention a rug that was spoiled. They are unbelievable, and I will never again complain about my home insurance premium. 
Everything’s relative to where one is in life, isn’t it. At five o’clock, half a matzoh cracker with a thin slice of swiss cheese, with a glass of Louis M. Martini cabernet sauvignon, Sonoma County 2009. For supper, green beans and a bit of salmon. Yesterday was extraordinary and not at all dull -- all in all, A Beautiful Day.
This is a big house, and the sealing off of the dining room with workers trudging in and out still leaves plenty of rooms where one can sit quietly and study. The framers of Lectionary B did a poor job matching psalms for us to read, or sing, or chant in response to the summer Bible stories about Samuel and Saul and David and Solomon.

Life Is Good. The plumbers will return this morning to resume work in the dining room ceiling replacing all the plumbing into and out of Linda's bathroom. The insurance adjuster will be back to plan restoration of the dining room. My Laughing Place is still there. Linda and I are alive and well and looking forward to another beautiful day. And it's time for my walk.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


1 In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" 6 Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." (Isaiah 6:1f RSV)
A prophet’s call story might be expected to show up near the beginning of his prophecy, but Isaiah doesn’t tell his until farther along in his scroll, chapter six. Abraham’s call comes at the beginning of his adventures, as does that of Moses, his wonderful encounter with The Lord in the burning bush. The call of Jeremiah is another favorite:
4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." 7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak. (Jeremiah 1:4f RSV)
Most of the called protest with a good reason why they can’t go. Moses says he isn’t a good speaker. God says he’ll send Moses’ brother Aaron along to do the talking. Jeremiah says he’s only a boy. God says, in effect, “Don’t give me any sass, you’ll do as I say.” Isaiah is afraid he’s unclean, and that is corrected before things go any farther. Isaiah might have preferred to have his mouth washed out with soap instead of the burning coal.
Reading the call stories of Bible characters can help us in realizing our own call into -- whatever God has in mind for us. My own sense of call into my present vocation came at age ten and I accepted it; but backed away at age nineteen and did things of my own choosing, went my own way until God began yammering at me through our congregation in Pennsylvania after my Navy retirement, and I entered theological seminary on my forty-fifth birthday. Looking back, as Isaiah is looking back in our Old Testament reading for this coming Sunday, I have no regrets; rather am grateful for the adventures on my own road to where I am this morning. 
However, life is short, as our rector says in his benediction every Sunday, and there isn’t much time. Having a call story for a Sunday School lesson or a lectionary reading gives an opportunity to pause, contemplate, perhaps realize what God may be trying to get me to hear. Sometimes it takes the burning coal to get our attention: I certainly found it so in my own life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday coming up: one of the seven Principal Feasts of the Church, acclaimed as the only Sunday that’s about a doctrine instead of a major event. In my case, it’s my only Sunday of the year to be in the pulpit preaching about an incomprehensible while most of our congregation are across the Bay on Shell Island eating barbecue and fried chicken.
Because it’s Shell Island Sunday. Our second annual. Last year a flotilla of boats carried a couple hundred people across. A wonderful time was had by all, and there were several baptisms. It’s about the grandest way to start the summer season that one could imagine. 
For Sunday, the Weather Channel says 91F, wind W at 8 mph, 0% chance of rain.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch ...
There was a time in the Church of England, perhaps still so, when, in place of the Nicene Creed or Apostles Creed, it was the tradition on Trinity Sunday to stand and say the Creed of Saint Athanasius, also called the Athanasian Creed and the Quicunque Vult. Lengthy and ponderous, it was attributed (albeit erroneously) to Athanasius, fourth century bishop of Alexandria who helped lead the Church away from Arianism during the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). Perhaps its clearest assertion is the line 
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
Arianism was the vigorously asserted, viciously defended, and then-dominant view in the Christian Church, that the Son is not of the same being as the Father, that the Son was created, that the Son was not eternally coexistent with the Father, that, as the Arian slogan went, “there was a time when he was not.” Had Arius held, Christian doctrine today would be far different to what every Sunday morning we stand and say we believe.
Perhaps we shall have a look at the Athanasian Creed together this coming Sunday morning. Or perhaps not. A poster for future Shell Island Sundays might be
Come and enjoy 
Sea and Sun 
Chicken and Fun 
on Shell Island


Stay back at the Ranch 
and memorize the Quinque Vult.

The Creed of Saint Athanasius is found in the Book of Common Prayer at page 864. As we stand.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Golden Gate

San Francisco celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday. 

Smack in the middle of our 1969-1970 WestPac cruise, USS TRIPOLI (LPH-10) was found to have a cracked propeller. We were loaded up with Marines heading home from the Vietnam War and sent to homeport San Diego, thence to San Francisco for a month in Hunters Point Naval Shipyard for repairs. While the ship was in San Diego for a few days, everyone who wanted to take a car to San Francisco drove it down to the pier to be loaded onto the hangar deck. Including my 1959 Volkswagen.
It was Spring 1970 when TRIPOLI sailed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, and wonderful to have my car in San Francisco that month. Touring the city from top to bottom, one end to the other, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Japanese shops and restaurants, driving across Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito; across the Oakland Bay Bridge to Berkeley. One of my best things to do was go to a sushi parlor, order a box of my favorites, buy a quart bottle of Kirin, drive up to Lincoln Boulevard, park on a high grassy spot overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, and enjoy my sushi and beer in total peace.

During that month, Linda and Malinda and Joe came up to San Francisco and we had a long weekend in one of the guest cottages high on a hill at the shipyard. From there we could look down into the stadium lights at Candlestick Park to the south, and watch the dozens of planes at night, stacked ascending as far as the eye could see, in landing pattern gliding down to San Francisco International Airport. Life Is Good now, and life was very good indeed that month.
The other weekends we were in Hunters Point, I flew home to San Diego in the ship's helicopter every Friday at liberty call, and back to the ship in time for muster on Monday morning. TRIPOLI returned to WestPac after the month in drydock. Sea duty and Vietnam War memories are not my happiest, but having my family at the guest cottage that weekend; and parking the VW on Lincoln way up high, Pacific Ocean in front of me, Golden Gate Bridge to my right, sushi, ice cold Kirin -- fond memories this Memorial Day Weekend. 

Our first time in San Francisco had been July 1963, enroute to Japan. And then that Spring 1970 month when TRIPOLI was in drydock to have the screw replaced, sail back out under the Golden Gate Bridge, home to San Diego, then back to the War. Years later, while on Navy shore duty, and then after retiring and starting my business, life took me back to San Francisco many times until we moved to Apalachicola in 1984. 

There have been only a few places besides St. Andrews Bay that I might choose to live. Sydney, Australia. Seattle. San Francisco. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Just because they say it, that don’t make it so.
There is, around the U.S., and indeed here in Bay County, a group who call themselves “Anglican Church.” It’s a breakaway body that, like other breakaway bodies, loves the name “Anglican” and so have glommed onto it. The fact is, though, that what is “Anglican” in the world is what is “in communion” with the Archbishop of Canterbury. That particular body, and its affiliate national connection, were some years ago singled out and named by the Archbishop of Canterbury as specifically not in communion. So they worship using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church and call themselves “Anglican.” Anyone can hang up a shingle, but that doesn’t make it so any more than calling oneself Robert Frost poeticizes one’s doggerel, or walking around with a scalpel makes one a heart surgeon.
But if they want to be FoxAnglicans, who cares. 
Somewhere among Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon books there’s a story of the tiny family group that considers itself the last surviving remnant of the one true church. As those in church with them strayed into error, they have split off and broken away and split off and broken away and split off and broken away, in order to preserve pure doctrine. Every Sunday morning they arrange the dining room chairs around the living room and gather. One of the women has baked a loaf of bread which at the proper time gets passed round the circle and everybody breaks off a chunk and munches solemnly. It’s their Lord's Supper. One woman is there, the wife of a family member, who apparently is a Lutheran (or maybe Methodist, I don’t remember). When the bread comes to her, she breaks off a chuck. Instantly, one of the members leaps from his chair and snatches the morsel from the woman’s lips, shouting, “You ain’t in fellowship.” 
It’s the inhospitable nonsense of almost every Christian denomination and so-called “Non-Denomination”. You've got to be in fellowship or you cannot share the blessings. What a load.
A popularism some years ago was "WWJD?". What Would Jesus Do? When it comes to feeding and fellowship and communion, it’s no rhetorical or hypothetical question, because Jesus did do. Every time Jesus fed the crowd, he fed everybody who was there. Never once did he order his disciples, “Check and make sure they’re baptized and in fellowship before you give them bread.” He simply Took, and Blessed, and Broke, and Gave. The notion that the “Church” owns the Altar, the Holy Table, is so much stuff. If the Lord is there, it’s His table, His Altar, His Bread and Wine, His sherry and bickies, and WWJD Rules. If the "Church" announces its rules, restrictions, prohibitions and conditions in the invitation to the Lord's Supper, then it ain't His Supper; it's Someone Else's.
It’s ludicrous that a group bolts the Anglican Communion and thinks to take the name “Anglican” with them, like many of them tried to take the real estate and the trust funds and the candlesticks. But WTH do I know or care. "Just because they say it, that don’t make it so." They are Ananglican, actually.
In Apalachicola years ago, the priest at St. Patrick Catholic Church was transferred and a new priest came in. Compared to the charismatic, warm, kind and friendly priest he replaced, the new man was aloof and distant, and -- surprising, unusual and disappointing for a Roman Catholic priest -- thick and ignorant. Among other densities, he called us the Epsicopal Church and us Epsicopals. That has sort of grown on me, actually: let the Faux-Anglicans, the Ananglicans, have the name. We can be Epsicopal. Nearly Hitovity Epsicopal. It has a nice ring to it. We can be Epsicolopians.

Pictured: AnanglicanischePauluskirche

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gardenia Time

Morning Prayer.
Psalm 19. Caeli enarrant.*
THE heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy-work. One day telleth another; and one night certifieth another.
There is neither speech nor language; but their voices are heard among them. Their sound is gone out into all lands; and their words into the ends of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun; which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course. It goeth forth from the uttermost part of the heaven, and runneth about unto the end of it again; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The law of the LORD is an undefiled law, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, and giveth wisdom unto the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, and giveth light unto the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, and endureth for ever; the judgments of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant taught; and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Who can tell how oft he offendeth? O cleanse thou me from my secret faults. Keep thy servant also from presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over me; so shall I be undefiled, and innocent from the great offence.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be alway acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.
“... life has nothing sweeter than its springtime.”  Nothing is sweeter than gardenia time in Patty’s Garden, where Linda has two huge gardenia bushes which this spring have been prolific, and another tall one that also has been sweet this year.

At the head of the steps in the front yard is another. 

Looking out the back door at the white cloud of gardenia blossoms shows that Life Is Good and It’s A Beautiful Day. And makes me mindful and grateful all over again for dear friends and loved ones who made possible and successful and memorable my trip to Cleveland Clinic. 

Psalm 19 is surely the loveliest in all Scripture, and none more lovely than the Coverdale Psalter, the traditional psalms of The Book of Common Prayer, which predates even the KJV, and if anything, is lovelier to one raised in ancient Anglicanism. 

Psalm 19 is itself a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. As is Linda's work in her garden.

OK, as Pat noticed, that last one is Linda's magnolia! The "matchsticks" must have been the giveaway!!

  • 1928 BCP, Coverdale Psalter

Friday, May 25, 2012

God's Promise through Ezekiel

Ezekiel 37 The Message (TM)
 1-2 God grabbed me. God's Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
 3 He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
    I said, "Master God, only you know that."
 4 He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'"
 5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life. I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!"
 7-8 I prophesied just as I'd been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
 9 He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, 'God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!'"
 10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
 11 Then God said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they're saying: 'Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there's nothing left of us.'
 12-14 "Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, 'God, the Master, says: I'll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I'll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you'll realize that I am God. I'll breathe my life into you and you'll live. Then I'll lead you straight back to your land and you'll realize that I am God. I've said it and I'll do it. God's Decree.'"
Bible study with a group is one of my favorite things to do. Coming out of study methods learned and enjoyed in EfM, it’s more critical than devotional, where “critical” does not mean throwing stones, but digging-into. For example, the second thing anyone in my study group would notice in the above passage is its colloquialism, that there’s no way to read it piously. Everyone in the group would already know the story and uneasily sense its disconnect with what they already knew; some would scowl and open their King James Bible or New Revised Standard Version (which is in the King James tradition) before smiling contentedly.
The first thing folks would have noticed, though, is that the deity is called “God” in the story. Sensing something odd, smelling a dead raccoon in the attic, they would ask me what the original says, the Hebrew. No Hebrew scholar, I would have to look it up. Which is why I try always to have an on-line laptop on the table in our conference room. Here’s the first verse:
הָיְתָה עָלַי, יַד-יְהוָה, וַיּוֹצִאֵנִי בְרוּחַ יְהוָה, וַיְנִיחֵנִי בְּתוֹךְ הַבִּקְעָה; וְהִיא, מְלֵאָה עֲצָמוֹת.
So, in the original, the deity is called יְהוָה which is not properly read or translated “God” but YHWH or Yahweh or most often The Lord and in translating aloud (because the Name is too sacred to speak) Adonai. The group would wander off discussing the lack of precision and accuracy in TM version in this case, and conclude that care should be exercised in using it in critical Bible study.
The story itself is the thing, though, isn’t it, what’s going on in the story? Well, most everyone in the study group would know well the story of Ezekiel, that he wrote his prophecy on the banks of the River Chebar during the Babylonian Exile. The people of Israel had been evil and unfaithful, and a brokenhearted God had punished them by calling in the armies of Babylon to crush them, destroy everything, and carry their leaders off into exile. But poor Yahweh, he’s such a Lamb, after a while he begins to feel sorry for them, and promises to start over with them and restore them in their holy land. The story of Ezekiel and the Dry Bones is God’s metaphor with Ezekiel, in which God says that He is able to rebuild His people Israel from practically nothing, and will do so. And that’s what happens in Israel’s Heilsgeschichte with YHWH.
From a devotional point of view, the story tells us that God is able to work wonders with us no matter how bad things may be at the moment. If we are dying, there is promise of salvation into eternal life with those we love who have gone before. If we are grieving, we must live through our sadness and pain into a time when God will surely bring something wonderful out of it for us, a blessing, new life in some way. It will not be the same as the old life, but we know in faith that it will be good, because God is faithful.   
Eventually someone in the study group would insist we read it all over again, this time from the “real Bible.”     

Ezekiel 37:1-14 King James Version (KJV)
37 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.
And then, claiming God’s promise through Ezekiel, we pray and name those who are in our hearts and minds. From me, you know who you are this morning. 

In the Name of the Father, and of + the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It Matters

"It is like honey to my heart. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a role to play. My vote could possibly make a difference."
MOHAMED MUSTAFA SEIF, an accountant in Cairo, on voting for Egypt's first freely elected president.
The above from this morning’s NYT reminds. There was a time when it seemed to me that it made no difference who was our president, or whether he was elected by Democrats or Republicans. And I have voted on both sides over the past half-century and more. Plus, as long as one party is not in control of both the White House and both Houses of Congress, there should be reasonable check and balance against excess and fanaticism. 
My view changed after 9/11. Nobody knows how almost-President Al Gore would have reacted to 9/11, whether we would have been at war in Afghanistan for the past decade, or perhaps worked in other ways to face and try to overcome Muslim hatred of us. But it is for absolute certain that thousands more Americans -- and hundreds of thousands more Iraqis -- and others -- would be alive today, and our national debt would have been different, and resources could have been available for other things -- because there would have been no Iraq War. There are generations of American children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will never exist because of who was president. It makes a difference who’s our president, it makes an enormous difference. My disappointment has been that our Iraq War went on for so long after Tuesday, January 20, 2009, and that young Americans are still dying in Afghanistan, and will continue to die into 2014, not to even mention Afghan children. 
It very much matters who is president of Egypt, and Mohamed Mustafa Seif’s vote could possibly make a difference. It matters who’s the American president too. It’s a matter of life and death.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Wasting Time
Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed by law officers in Bienville Parish, Louisiana on this day in history, May 23, 1934. NYT offers for sale, reprints of their front page announcing the event. $59.95 for plain 11x17 up to $224.95 for a 24x36 in a black frame. Wikipedia has a long article on the infamous pair that may take half an hour to read thoroughly top to bottom. Reading it left me unrefreshed mentally, uninspired spiritually, somewhat down, and having squandered precious time of life. Worse, worst, it's still on my mind.
A friend had an original April 1865 newspaper announcing Lincoln’s assassination and death, a historical item of interest. Why would anyone want a free copy, not to say a two-hundred-plus dollar framed NYT reprint announcing the death of Bonnie and Clyde? And what would they do with it? Their art collection might make an interesting sermon.
What makes someone deliberately throw life away doing crime, petty or major. A family very dear to me has a loved one in that trap, he can’t get out of it, doesn’t seem to care to get out of it. Bonnie Parker was in love; Clyde Barrow burned with vengeful hatred to get even with a Texas prison where he had been abused. The boy I know, raised with admirable siblings, has always been adored by his family and everyone who knows him. Some emotional or mental thwart keeps him from thinking beyond the moment, nothing is thought through either as to worth or consequence. Something’s missing and can’t be found, and maybe can't be fixed; and his good life is being wasted. Maybe something more helpful, positive and salvific than prison time next time around, Judge.
Tuesday morning Bible Seminar is over until fall, Sunday School is over until fall, what to do. Read. Not NYT reprints. Probably not much Wikipedia. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sunday Bible Readings

Mainly Reminiscing ...
As a young Christian going to East Hill Baptist Church (Pensacola) occasionally with my grandfather Gentry, and sometimes going with friends to First Baptist Church here in Panama City when Brother McDaniel was there (Brother Mac was a favorite pastor among local kids back in the late 1940s until he moved from the church to become the executive at Bay Memorial Hospital), it always made a strong positive impression on me that everyone was carrying a Bible. Everyone except me, an Episcopalian.   
Why didn’t we carry a Bible to church? Because all of our Sunday Bible readings for the entire year were printed in the Book of Common Prayer. That was before our present 1976/1979 BCP, which gives us a three year lectionary. Three years worth of readings would be too much to print in one book together with all the other, liturgical, teaching, and historical material that’s in the BCP.
Ah, me thinks upon arriving at Trinity Episcopal Church, Apalachicola, now’s the opportunity to teach Episcopalians to bring their Bible to church. Nope. For a while at Trinity, I tried to get everyone to bring a Bible to church on Sunday mornings. As I recall, the only person who did it was Jack Ward, a former Baptist who was our church treasurer for a while. So I bought Bibles and put them in the pew racks, and even printed in the Sunday bulletins the Bible page numbers so folks could easily and quickly find the Readings. As the years went by, I gave those totally brand new, unused, unopened Bibles away to folks who wanted a Bible.
We have four Bible readings every Sunday, usually Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel readings. Nobody in the congregation but me, with a Baptist mother, did “sword drills” as a boy, learning to find Bible verses quickly. So for a while at Trinity we bought Sunday Bulletins with the day’s Lectionary readings printed on the back. Then we started printing or buying Lectionary Sheets with the readings for each Sunday, as Sunday bulletin inserts. At Trinity, I always ordered the Large Print size. It can be risky to say “most,” but probably these days most Episcopal churches do use the Lectionary Sheets. 
The three-year Revised Common Lectionary that we use these days, shared with many other Christian denominations, frequently has options. This coming Sunday, for example (which is why and how my mind wandered off track into the above reminiscence), is Pentecost, and the lectionary is Psalm 104:24-35, Acts, either Ezekiel or Romans, and something from John’s gospel. The option becomes annoying if the lectionary sheet company co-opts me by deciding it’s too much to print the whole thing and so leaves out one reading. Especially if it happens to be the reading I would have preached on or taught in my Sunday School class. My hackles are up unnecessarily, because I’m not preaching this Sunday, and there’s no Sunday School this Sunday, and besides I haven’t even looked at the lectionary sheet to see what they printed. Hopefully, they printed Ezekiel instead of Romans, because though the Romans reading is powerful, it would be a crime to leave out the story of Ezekiel and the Dry Bones. 
Maybe tomorrow morning my mind will still be on Ezekiel and I’ll go there. For the meantime, there’s no point in getting so exercised about what the lectionary company may or may not have done; so here’s this coming Sunday’s wonderful reading from Psalm 104:

O LORD, how manifold are your works! *
    in wisdom you have made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.

Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to number, *
    creatures both small and great.

There move the ships,
and there is that Leviathan, *
    which you have made for the sport of it.

All of them look to you *
    to give them their food in due season.

You give it to them; they gather it; *
    you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.

You hide your face, and they are terrified; *
    you take away their breath,
    and they die and return to their dust.

You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; *
    and so you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure for ever; *
    may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

He looks at the earth and it trembles; *
    he touches the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; *
    I will praise my God while I have my being.

May these words of mine please him; *
    I will rejoice in the LORD.

Let sinners be consumed out of the earth, *
    and the wicked be no more.

Bless the LORD, O my soul. *
 Only an old codger would get so exercised about nothing. Time to go down to My Laughing Place and relax.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting Ready

Pump up the Tires and Get Ready to Preach It

In the Church, this week is a Time In Between Times, and it seems meet and right to take advantage of that in some deliberate, purposeful way. The Ascension is behind us and with it the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth; ahead is the Day of Pentecost with the promised coming of the Holy Spirit and whatever that may bring; but not yet. 
Symbolically it’s time to adjust to irrevocable change and prepare for whatever is to come.
More than symbolic. Not Hurricane Season is over, seeing TS Alberto off Jacksonville this morning, though thankfully about to head northeast. Hurricane Season is ten days away, so there’s time to buy flashlight batteries, bottled water, canned food, fill up the gas tank.  
It’s more than symbolic for me personally too, because though our Rector’s sabbatical is twenty days away for him, it’s only skip--one--Sunday away for me. He’s preaching this coming Sunday, then it’s me in the HNEC pulpit every Sunday morning through Labor Day weekend. Time to check my homiletic junkyard and put water in the batteries and air in the tires of that old Nash and Studebaker and Frazer Manhattan that’ve decayed on the bookshelf lo this quarter-century and more.

Every Sunday while Fr. Steve is away we’ll pray For the Good Use of Leisure (BCP 825) and For Travelers (BCP 831). Taking those prayers to heart and mind, we’ll use the summer sabbatical to experience in ten-thirty worship some of the things we’ve discovered in Sunday School and Bible Seminar and EfM and Wednesday Eucharist. EOW. Creed w/o filioque. And other things.

All that Frazer needs is to clean the windshield, jump the battery, and it's ready to preach, eh? Sprinkler just cut off. St. Andrews Bay is flat. No palm fronds or pine needles are stirring. Upstairs porch door is open. Shell Island is still there. And My Laughing Place.

Maybe that Terraplane will start.


That Studebaker will preach too, if I put a set of re-caps on it: