Saturday, October 31, 2015

And You Don't Have To Talk To It

For sunset, supper, and sunrise this is the place, high up looking and loving St. Andrews Bay from one end, across, and to the other, east to south to west, papermill to Davis Point to Shell Island to the Pass to the highrise condos lining Thomas Drive, this is the place. Sunset 20151030

Sunrise 20151031

Where when weather permits we eat breakfast, lunch, and supper. Supper last night. Steamed shrimp and a cheap french red by candlelight. Behind the candle, my father's barometer. Or maybe it was Pop's.

Scanning the menu of a new Texas cafe at PCB I spotted “country fried steak.” If it's real it will be chicken fried steak. Salivating, going on line to find the best chicken fried steak in Texas, comes up Frank's Grill in Houston. Looks like the breakfast place to sample. After reading all the reviews, here's my favorite:

“If you're el cheapo like me, this is a good place to have a lot of food for close to nothing. They open for breakfast and lunch, closed for dinner. It's a hole in the wall/ blue collar type of place. Love that! Sometimes, actually most of the time, I just don't care to get dressed and dolled up just to go out and eat so that all these judgy people won't look at you funny. As a female, there's this nonsensical pressure to have to conform to the social construct of how a girl should look like (tight top, clothes you have to dry clean, clothes so complex you can't fold it, makeup, blah blah). I love this place because I can be real and lazy (economy of energy). I can come here in my "only for the house" shirt, tattered 18 yr old flannel that I bought when Pearl Jam was all the rage, scrub pants from god knows where, and uncombed hair in a hat. For that, I give this place five stars. Until the yuppies discover and infiltrate this place. Please don't ruin it!

“The food comes in an enormous pile the size of Russia. Imagine having regular food as a 12 font size, but here it's like magnified to 40 font. I've been coming here for 9+ years. The only reason I haven't had a heart attack is of course, moderation. Only once a month will I indulge myself in their cholesterol fortified goodness. I usually get their "so good it slaps you back" chicken fried steak (white or brown gravy), better than sex belgian waffles (it lasts longer and you don't have to talk to it), liver and onions (the only place I will eat them), or their omelet the size of a football. I have leftovers for 3 more meals and fat storage for those days I won't be eating on those long hospital shifts. Entrees come with a side of hash browns or grits (or half and half), eggs, toast, and butter (request on the side or it will be on the food). Save time for a nap afterwards.”

Sounds like an icon place to go for breakfast if you love local, down and trashy. Can't wait.

Meantime, Saturday. Tomato day at St. Andrews Farmers Market.


Friday, October 30, 2015


Last Friday in October, and the cool, pleasant Northwest Florida autumn weather is still mild enough to walk in short pants and a short sleeve shirt. Wearing my “USN Retired” with 05/06 scrambled eggs cap. Some weeks ago I dropped off a car at CramerGM for servicing, and seeing my Navy cap the attendant asked, “Are you a retired admiral?” One of these days maybe I’ll see a baseball cap with the bill for a flag officer and promote myself. Maybe not. Maybe.

After the walk, breakfast at Bayou Joe’s, eggs over medium and dry wheat toast. Dry not as a health enthusiast but because dry toast soaks up egg yolk better than buttered toast. Black coffee. 

Now in my office pecking out a blogpost and contemplating Sunday School class day after tomorrow, what? All Saints Day it is: John [11:32-44]
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” 

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” The Gospel of the Lord 

According to the story, this sign so astonished the crowds who were curious about Jesus that they started looking up to him instead of to the Temple authorities. In the Gospel according to John this is the final straw that makes the authorities perceive Jesus as such a threat to their authority that they must have him killed -- church politics no less an issue in those days than today. It even happens in the Episcopal Church. In my memory it has been the color of the new carpet, whether the organist vests, the youth group not cleaning the oven after their pizza night, little kids in the restroom peeing and leaving urine on the floor, prayer book revision, women delegates to diocesan meetings, women priests and bishops, gay clergy. Gay marriage may still be a minor issue, but if so it’s evaporating in the face of what is, because our God is not so small that he's worried about gay marriage when there are hungry people and people without medical care and people with no place to sleep tonight; and besides we have Good News to proclaim: “this Bread means Jesus loves you.” 

Did Jesus really raise Lazarus from the dead? That’s the story, and in John’s account Jesus is the logos who spoke all things into being in the Beginning, so “Lazarus, come out!” is no surprise.



Thursday, October 29, 2015


What happened yesterday, Wednesday, what did we do, how was the day filled out? Reminding and remembering this is no journal nor diary. 

Noon to GCSC for a tour of their magnificent new building, delicious lunch with a friend and friend who, years ago (1991) in the parking lot scene, was the double who slammed the Ford sedan repeatedly into the red Volkswagen convertible in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Trip to the PC Mall, first time in years. Stop at Sam’s on the way home, flu shot, refill toothbrush heads for my Sonicare. I’m always concerned not to buy too many refills, sure as I do the base will die and refuse to charge, it’s about time, this is my third or fourth Sonicare in the past twenty years. In the beginning I had one in the rectory in Apalachicola and one at 2308 WBD. This one five or six years, maybe eight.

Nap. To church. In some future age I might fly to my blue heaven, passing my flashing green channel marker on the way or maybe just stopping there for eternity. But for now it’s “thy kingdom come” Wednesday evening at Holy Nativity, my-lord-what-an-evenin’ when the stars began to shine. Pizza supper with the angels. As there were several boxes left over and hot from Domino’s, we bought one, pepperoni, and dropped it by for Malinda and Kristen.

Home. Watch the GOP debate. In that group, Dr. Carson could be my man, not one of the politicians, all of whom would guarantee another four years of same-ole. A side show contesting for main feature was three moderators trying to out-shout each other. Didn’t see any of the World Series last night. On my computer screen, downloaded and watched Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe until midnight. Bedtime and through the night in prayer for Mary Elizabeth Richardson in Birmingham for heart surgery at Kirklin Clinic, UAB this very moment. 

Knowing as I do about heart surgery, that’s where my heart, thought and prayer is this morning as we head out to Pensacola for a retired clergy lunch with Bishop Russell.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Workday Wednesday

Weather up here can be exhilarating. Last week we were longing for a storm, and this week it roared through as the last gasp of category 5 Hurricane Patricia circling in the Gulf of Mexico 

and now headed north. We had wind, waves and rain last night, and a bit of heavy rain predawn this mooring. all good stuff.

At one point there was thunder from strong lightning in a severe storm off the coast. What a great place, what a great life, what a great world, and it’s only Wednesday.

Totally stirred up muddy, even the Bay is clear and calm at the moment. And 7:28, here comes a heavy rain across the Bay from the Gulf. 

So I reckon we’re not done yet. Two tugs waiting for her, a large ship bearing general cargo arrives from Angamos, enters the Pass; a large workboat just passing my porch for a busy day at sea, 

out of my picture to the east a shrimpboat heads home from overnight on the Bay. The WisdomLine ship Genius Star X rounds the hairpin bend, repeatedly sounds her horn at a small boat in the channel, and Wednesday begins. Enjoy, enjoy.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Despite appearances, our weather is not cold or even chilly this morning, we have 70F and 97% humidity and precipitation at 86% and wind about 20 miles per hour up here in Seventh Floor subHeaven right now. Because my feet get cold at night, I sleep in socks year round, and right now they’re soaking from walking on the porch. Just as last night, I can hear the surf from the Gulf of Mexico about four miles distant, telling me there may be wave action rolling in. And the Bay at my feet seven floors down is lapping ashore noisier than usual. 

Our topic in this morning’s Bible Seminar is the Divinity of Jesus. Not a review of Bart Ehrman’s current stocking stuffer How Jesus Became God — though I love Professor Ehrman, a master at rearranging words over and over again to get a blockbusting ‘nother best seller with a sensational title and circling round his personal spiritual autobiography — but an open discussion of the church’s christogical evolution — you should pardon the four letter word — from earth to sky and thence sky to earth and earth back to sky. I hope the weather won’t keep many away, but it’s pretty damp out there for anyone in our age group who is minding their health. 


Monday, October 26, 2015

Mind of God

All Saints, November 1, ranks with Christmas and Easter, Epiphany, Ascension, Trinity Sunday, and Pentecost as one of the seven Principal Feasts of the Church. This year it happens to fall on a Sunday, giving it liturgical precedence over the normal Sunday propers, prayers and readings. Customarily, we sing at least one hymn celebrating the saints of God in the church militant and triumphant, and in some parishes we commemorate members of the parish and loved ones who died since All Saints Day the previous year. It will be an opportunity to name them in prayer and bring them again into the Mind of God. 

Twenty-five or thirty years ago, in the small town parish I was serving at the time, I noticed that a local couple whom I knew were coming to our Sunday services, and I always made a point of welcoming them warmly. About their third or fourth time, which turned out to be their final Sunday with us, I greeted them again at the door going out after service, and asked if I could come talk with them about the Episcopal Church and about becoming members of our parish. To my surprise and somewhat to my astonishment, the man said, “No. Because you pray for the dead. Jesus said leave the dead to bury their dead.” Baptist, they had just noticed in our Prayers of the People the petition, “We pray for all who have died, that they may have a place in your eternal kingdom.” 

What seemed so natural, logical, and even comforting to me, to us, had, once they noticed it and realized, offended them greatly. So greatly that they returned to First Baptist and we never saw them at Trinity Church again. I remembered then when they commented, actually it was an abrupt retort, that praying for the dead was, because of papist abuses, a reasonable issue of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. But it had never occurred to me that intelligent people would seize a verse totally out of context and apply it to rationalize a facet of their spirituality. It seemed particularly absurd to me at the time. It still does, even asinine. 

“Why do we pray for the dead?” asks a question in our Catechism (BCP 862). "We pray for them because we still hold them in our love, and because we trust that in God's presence those who have chosen to serve him will grow in his love, until they see him as he is."  To drop from my heart and prayers those I love who have died, comes to me as cold and discouraging instead of comforting and hopeful. One of our prayers that is most encouraging and meaningful to me is tucked away in the Prayers of the People of our marriage liturgy, “Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be transformed by your grace ...” And then of course the petition in the Burial Office, "Give courage and faith to those who are bereaved, that they may have strength to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love."  

Whoever is mourning, grieving the absence of someone dearly loved who has died, may want to come to church next Sunday and light a candle in loving remembrance, and call their name again into the Mind of the Holy One. 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

that can't be right

Has anyone noticed 2015 passing so fast that already Christmas is only two months from today? 69F 87% out there. The urge for max comfort is keeping me inside this morning, coffee and one dark square. Actually this morning it’s a triangle of dark. A splash of chocolate milk in my coffee for a change.

Linda tells me our Christmas tree this year will be out on the porch. She makes those small day to day decisions, as someone said, I make the big decisions. Like who should not be president, that sort of thing. 

My teams had a break this week, we watched the Alabama game to a win. Were watching the FSU game until about halftime, when it was clear the Seminoles were going to win again, and I went to bed -- why should I watch a team whose coach has forgotten how to lose a football game. “The president is sleeping.” “When he wakes up, tell him he’s no longer president.” Woodrow Wilson v. Charles Evans Hughes 1916. 16-22? That can't be right. I keep checking the score again to see if I looked at it wrong the other thousand times.

Weather has been what we looked forward to all that long hot summer: lunch and supper outside on the porch most days. Only thing I miss about summer 2015 is the lightning way off over the Gulf of Mexico, and distant thunder.


Saturday, October 24, 2015


Sitting here thinking about Sunday School tomorrow, when I should have been writing my blog post. Actually, the SS possibilities are more interesting than anything the dancing fingers might tap out. In the lectionary, we finish Mark chapter 10 with Jesus and Friends arriving at Jericho and then immediately leaving Jericho. As I’ve said and written ad nauseam, this surfaces Secret Mark, I’m not sure whether even to bring it up again. 

The more interesting possibility, to me, seems to be that we who are following Track One of the lectionary will finish our series of readings from Job. Job is a poem, maybe you’d call it an epic poem that pits Job against life itself. The poem is introduced with a semi-detached prologue that almost fits but serves to set the stage, and is closed out with an — epilogue, I suppose is the term, that wraps it all up with an arguably happy ending. The poem itself is a dramatic presentation of how life is, to use Kushner’s phrase and book title, “When Bad Things Happen To Good People.”  

The prose introduction (chapters one and two) and close (final verses of chapter forty-two) are a cruel visitation of disaster upon an innocent man, supposedly made right by the reward at the end. I don’t know. I once read a line in which Carl Jung said the Cross of Calvary was God’s atonement for His sin against Job.

Come to Sunday School and we can fight about it.


Friday, October 23, 2015


Hurricane Patricia, 879 mb, category 5 with 200 mph sustained winds, gusting to 245 mph, 40 foot waves, 30 foot storm surge according to the National Hurricane Center. Strongest storm on record in the northern hemisphere, catastrophic, "the most dangerous storm in history," and is supposed to come ashore today. An eastern Pacific hurricane.
 Not complaining or jealous but wondering why hurricanes have preferred Pacific to Atlantic recently.

Returned from this morning’s walk heavily sweating, shirt sopping wet. We walked fast for two octogenarians. Couple of hills, which we call grinds, in the alley between E 3rd Court and E 3rd Street, which goes between Scotty’s house on Massalina Drive and Bill’s house on Cove Boulevard, where we walked for, what? old time's sake. Shirt dripping with sweat reminded me. This may turn out R rated. Forty years ago I had an Australian client who in his late teens and early twenties had worked for a moving company. It was in New Zealand, he actually was born and grew up in NZ, later moved to Oz. Er heißt Ray. Ray said on that job he'd always worked shirtless, worked up a sloppy, dripping sweat. He said husbands were generally at work during the day when he was moving furniture into people’s new homes, and, as he put it, the wives really came onto a sweaty, smelly young man.

Reminder that my blog is not spiritual or religious, but whatever the fingers tap out as they dance upon the keyboard.

If your fingers cause you to sin, 


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Anu in the Morning

Anu Garg’s website may be my favorite daily email. Many of the words he introduces, I never heard or saw, and this week he’s come up with some doozies. Today, for example, “sooterkin.” In fact the only word I’ve known this week is poppycock, and it’s origin, like b.s., is perfect for helping reign in the sometime foul mouth of which I am not at all proud but rather greatly ashamed.

Often even better than the words is Garg’s Thought for Today, which always is the last thing on the post; this morning, 

Think for yourself and question authority. -Timothy Leary, psychologist and writer (22 Oct 1920-1996)" 

With my healthy, or perhaps unhealthy, and certainly sometimes unfortunate over the years, deep contempt for authority, this may be Anu’s top best Thought. It’s where I am in life, where I always have been so far as I recall. This attitude, which in me derives from my growing up years, where I’m not going this morning to the place only my brother and sister would understand, did not always serve me best during my Navy time, but it holds anyway to this day and somewhat forms my being and informs my worldview. So when I read, and now hold dear, Steve Job’s famous advice to that graduating class, 

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition"

I felt vindicated and somehow saved, rescued, from being alone like Jeremiah sinking in the mud of Malchiah’s cistern: there are respectable and other intelligent beings down here with me. The thought encourages me when I stumble, for example, over words of the Nicene Creed about which I know the political, not to say inspired, and often cruel, viscious and violent history. 

Also freeing is that oft quoted here proverb from the lintel over the library door at Virginia Seminary, “Seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will.” It means that in my church, where we like to say "you don’t have to check your brain at the door," there are no questions that cannot be asked and explored and I don’t have to agree with whatever two millennia ago was developing as orthodox and permissible. It also blesses once again my personal slogan, “Just because he said it, that don’t make it so. And just because you believe it, even believe it fervently, with every fibre of your being, and even willing to die or kill for it, that don’t make it so neither.” 

The vulgate somehow underscoring the defiance. And thank you very much, Anu Garg.

Welcome, happy morning.

The sunrises and sunsets and clouds and sky and sea from this porch just keep getting more amazing and more and more brilliant; but I can't stand out here all day taking pictures.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday in October

What's happening? Out on the porch enjoying three tiny slices of meatloaf for breakfast, with catsup and wheat crackers. One slice from Linda's “mom's usual” and two from “usual” that I mixed with liverwurst after remembering liverloaf at some earlier point in life. We once loved liver and onions, probably haven't had it in forty years.

In the PCNH this morning, obit of Bill Bailey. My age, in my class at Cove School and Bay High. In our growing up days, Bill lived in a house on Cove Boulevard right behind Scotty Fraser's house across the Bayou from us on Massalina Drive, so Bill was a Massalina Bayou boy. Bill and Scotty Fraser were roommates across the hall from Philip Johnson and me our freshman year at UFlorida. He and Scotty were Presbyterians, and when it turned out that I didn't mesh with the Episcopalians at Canterbury House, we started going every Sunday to First Presbyterian in Gainesville, where the much loved popular pastor, Preacher Gordon held forth beautifully in the pulpit. There was a time then when because of Preacher Gordon I wrote home to Linda that I was thinking of being a Presbyterian minister instead of an Episcopal priest. By the end of my sophomore year, all that went out the window and I'd decided against seminary altogether and changed my major from pre-theology to business administration.

Good read this morning, front page of a PCNH issue from June 1941. That summer I was five years old, soon to be six and start first grade at Cove School the day after Labor Day in September. War was on in Europe, the German military machine spreading out across the continent. A member of the Jap cabinet was on his way to Berlin to meet with Hitler and Mussolini about joining their alliance, and Pearl Harbor was six months in the future.

Bill Bailey and Philip Johnson didn't start first grade with us, they were at Lynn Haven, came into our class in second grade. Bill sat next to me at our Bay High Class of 1953 sixtieth reunion a couple years ago.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Probably I should have stuck to automobiles instead of branching out into life and theology and Bible stuff. It's the Bible stuff that catches me up short, surprised, puzzled and ignorant. Linda says people get tired of my reminding them I'm no scholar, but I'm so conscious of it and selfconscious about it that it keeps popping out of my mouth anyway. It pops up again as I read the gospel for the upcoming Sunday –

46 They (i.e., Jesus and his disciples) came to Jericho. --- As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher,[g] let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52, NRSV)

Maybe I shouldn't be, needn't be, but along with many real scholars over the years, I've flinched at the apparent short shrift that Mark gives to the visit to Jericho. He says “they came to Jericho,” and in the next verse says, “as he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho.” Why, unless he is simply marking Jesus' route from Galilee down to Jerusalem, does Mark even mention Jericho at all if nothing happened there other than Jesus attracting a large crowd? Well, in my Bible explorations I found an answer that appeals to me and satisfies me. It's called the Secret Gospel of Mark, or Secret Mark, or SGM. My Bible Seminar companions are probably sick and tired of hearing about it.

In 1958, at a monastery near Jerusalem, a scholar named Morton Smith happened to come across a copy of part of a letter from Clement of Alexandria to someone named Theodore. The letter, background and translations available online, alludes to and quotes two parts of the Gospel according to Mark that are not included in canonical Mark. Some scholars say the excluded verses were in Mark's original gospel and were edited out. I'm not developing the pros and cons of that argument here. Clement describes exactly where the two omitted sections go, both in Mark chapter ten as we have it – which makes it easy for me to look at. Jesus is on his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, teaching his disciples as they go. SGM adds two things. Between Mark 10:34 and 10:35 –

"And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth (νεανίσκος) was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."

So, there's an extra pericope, tradition, story. And then at Mark 10:46 after “And they came to Jericho -- And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them.-- As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho ...”

Okay, this latter part of SGM accomplishes at least two practical things. It answers the question of why Mark mentions Jericho. And it introduces Salome, who otherwise appears, oddly and only in Mark, as some otherwise unknown woman at Jesus' tomb (Mark 16:1).

Objections to “restoring” SGM are obvious. It seems erotic, which we don't like, but that's not a valid objection. It seems gnostic, later declared unorthodox and heresy, which may be a valid objection and reason for its being excluded from the canon, except that keeping secrets is part of Mark's gospel anyway.

The connection to Lazarus in John's gospel is obvious, as is a similarity to the beloved disciple in John. I like the idea of including SGM in Mark. Though looking at a map of the Holy Land in the time of Jesus, I see a geographical issue.

Jesus meets νεανίσκος, the unnamed young man, in Bethany. Then they go to Jericho. That makes no travel sense. So the meeting with νεανίσκος has to be in Bethany beyond Jordan, doesn't it, which is different from Bethany-at-Jerusalem in John's gospel where Jesus has supper with Lazarus. But I don't think the geographical issue bothers Mark, which he solves anyway, by saying that Jesus crosses over the Jordan and later crosses back, and also by having Jesus sup in Bethany-at-Jerusalem at the home of Simon the Leper instead of, as John's gospel, at the home of the beloved friend whom he raised from the dead.

See, this is the sort of rubbish that clutters my mind these days instead of the differences between 1946 and 1947 Fords (location of the front parking lights, and chrome strips on the trunk).

To any extent the tradition on which it's based is as historical as it is kerygmatic, I think John's Lazarus, and Mark's νεανίσκος, and the beloved disciple in John's gospel are the same rich young man.


Monday, October 19, 2015


Chilly out here, 55F 66% and wind at 9mph makes welcome, necessary and comfortable the bathrobe with hood up. There are clouds up there, but it's not overcast, because beyond and between clouds the stars are clear. Eleven days from November, this is a welcome autumn morning.

A few of these and I'll be ready for summer, but that's not how it works.

Couple of football heartbreaks Saturday and I'm not even going to check the rankings this morning. Watched the Gamecocks at least one last time and was proud of them over Vanderbilt. I love a football game of passing with lots of interceptions and that's what I saw. Coach Elliott did a good job and I know he's hoping to stay, but my heart's not there anymore. 

Whipped by a stiff breeze, St Andrews Bay is lapping ashore noisily just below. From next door comes the sound of wind in the trees in Oaks by the Bay park, where yesterday afternoon there was a wedding, and on the deck at the end of one of the boardwalks, pictures of the bride in white. I reckon the world is going on as ever. Still dark before dawn, it's 3:52 a.m. Monday, October 19th, 2015. If this were Our Town there'd be a train whistle any minute now.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

His Glory

Sermon in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida, Sunday, October 18, 2015, the Rev Tom Weller. 

Text: Mark 10:35-45 (RSV) The Request of James and John
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus, and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The gospel is about expectations.
Good Friday is about expectations.
Sunday morning is about expectations.

From personal experience and observation, it’s clear. At least it’s obvious to me, that Christians are in this game like James and John Zebedee, for what they expect to get out of it — are in church this morning — have “accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. to feel as smugly sure for heaven as if they were already there” — for salvation — to save themselves — either from the fires of hell (if they are terrified of that), or for their mansion in the Father’s house and walk the streets of gold. We are here for what we expect of God, not to hear and become what God expects of us. A perverted gospel that starts with James and John the sons of Zebedee in this morning’s story: Lord, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.

The Lord is no fool. “What do you want?” he asks, raising his eyebrows and rolling his eyes. “What is it you want me to do for you?”

We want places of honor when you come into your glory. One on your right and one on your left.

“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus says. Can you drink from my cup? Can you be baptized with my baptism? One on my right and one on my left, are you serious, are you kidding me?

Grant, O Lord, that all who are baptized into the death of Jesus Christ your Son may live in the power of his resurrection and look for him to come again in glory; who lives and reigns now and forever.

And what a timely reading we have from Hebrews this morning: a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood. We all of us are priests forever, after the order of Melchizedek.

Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love  in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life.

James and John do not understand. After their puzzling conversation with Jesus they especially do not understand. Two thousand years on, you and I understand, but they do not understand. They are on the way to Jerusalem, with great expectations: expectations of Jesus, expectations for Israel, and especially as today’s gospel reveals, great expectations for themselves. In the spirit of Jewish history coming to fulfillment, they sense that they are disciples of the Messiah whom at long last God is raising up to overthrow hated foreign occupation of the Holy Land, to restore the throne of David, and to reestablish the glory of Israel. They have great expectations for sharing in his glory. They are expecting.

Arriving in Jerusalem with high expectations, they will enter the city to the acclamation of the crowd shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.” At supper in Jerusalem, they will drink from his cup. They will sing the hymn, not knowing the new lyrics: “In the cross of Christ I glory” and they will go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where they will doze while Jesus prays; and where, in the evening fragrance of the flowers of springtime, they will meet — not human expectations but the upside-down, inside-out glory of God as their dreams turn to nightmare, and “all of them desert him and flee.”

This is his glory.

As he is arrested, brutalized by temple authorities by stealth of night, and tried by Pontius Pilate the next day, this is his glory.

As his executioners viciously drive him toward the Place of the Skull, James and John are nowhere to be seen.

This is his glory.

Because none of his friends are there, Roman soldiers will compel a passerby, a stranger who has just come in from the fields, to carry his cross.

This is his glory. 

Humiliated, naked he hangs, honored under the inscription, “King of the Jews.”

This is his glory.

James and John asked to be with him in his glory, but “they crucified two criminals with him, one on his right and one on his left.”

This is his glory.

In excruciating pain, tormented by passersby and by those who hate him — even the women who followed him from Galilee watch from a distance. He is will die alone, in shame, executed for a capital crime. 

This is his glory.

As he gasps and dies, not one of his own, but another stranger, the soldier who crucified him, is there to glorify him. “Truly, this man was the son of God.”

This is his glory —

— not what they expected.

What do you expect of Jesus? Salvation by walking down the aisle and accepting him as your personal Savior? In our gospel this morning, Jesus kicks the garbage can of your expectations upside down: the Son of God is not about what you expect of him, but what he expects of you: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
As a Christian, you are baptized into the death and resurrection of the Crucified One. This is his glory, can you live into his baptism? Can you drink from his cup? With James and John Zebedee, you have said that you can and promised that you will.

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?

Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?

Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?

God help you if you do, because he takes you into the Way of the Cross, and leads you to Calvary’s Hill.

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you really?

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? Will you really? Do you realize what you have promised?

We promise so blithely, so off the cuff and casual: do you realize what you have promised? The Way of the Cross is the Way of Life, and this gospel becomes very personal: it’s election time in America. Already showing up in the press and social media online: the most damnable words of hatred against others, no matter which side you pick. It’s time to examine yourself: if you participate in the hatred, you break your covenant with Jesus Christ and dishonor your God. Watch your tongue. Hold your temper. Restrain your fingers as they dance furious and self-certain across the keyboard, lest you shame your Lord and Savior. 

You can do it: you can see Christ in every person. You can be an ambassador for justice and peace. You can respect the dignity of every human being, Red or Blue, black or white, foreign or domestic. Muslim, Christian, Hindu, atheist, agnostic or Jew. 

With God’s help, you can even honor the dignity of insufferably arrogant Christians across America who are as steeped in certitude as the worst of the enemy.

You can glorify Christ with God’s help.

Whatever you expected of Jesus, you are to put it aside, set yourself at naught and ask what He expects of you.

And this will be his glory.

The gospel of the Lord.

This morning's sermon is posted online not pridefully, but to honor my ongoing promise to a dear friend. TW+

Saturday, October 17, 2015


October is mullet roe month, with those huge female red roe mullet. Males are smaller, with white roe. We seem to have a spawning ground in the little “protected” area that is our front yard now. Large mullet jump evenings and mornings. About sunup today two different small boats drifted through with someone standing in the bow scanning the bottom and then casting the net for its circular drop. Lead weights in the rim drop the ring straight to the bottom then, as the fisherman pulls the net up, the lead weights drag in along the bottom and close so that nothing escapes. 

Now the birds – first a large flock of what may be cormorants flying in, landing and floating. They dive, seemingly as if on cue, the whole flock disappears at once, then all pop to the surface simultaneously. Float, dive, surface. Float, dive, surface, float. Evidently noticing them, a bunch of pelicans arrive, circle, and splash down clumsily amongst them. Seagulls overhead joining in the fun of the feast. The attraction has got to be mullet, perhaps eggs, maybe even spawnlings.

Haven't had mullet in a couple of weeks, maybe a month, got to get some. We don't fry, we cook them either braised in a pan, or in the oven, or out here on the electric grill. There is no better taste.

Mullet and hot black coffee.

There's another fisherman now, alone in his small boat, but he's not casting for mullet, he's checking his traps for crabs.

If, as I suspect, this is my only chance for heaven, no matter; I'm good.