Sunday, December 31, 2017

Word (sermon)


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things were made through the Word, and without the Word was not anything made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth. John 1:1…

ΕΝ ἀρχῇ - - in the beginning - - logos, Word.
I’m thinking of Diagon Alley, that scene in The Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book and movie, when young, innocent, new to power, naive Harry Potter stands in the yard behind the Leaky Caldron, staring at an ordinary old high brick wall, and goggles incredulous as Hagrid says Word and waves Motion, and the brick wall quickens, clicks to obedience, moves; bricks shift around and adjust precisely, repositioning to form an open gateway into a new creation.

No metaphor of the Divine is adequate, but metaphors and similes are what we have. 

bə·rê·šheeṯ, in the beginning, Word, Song - - from The Chronicles of Narnia, I’m thinking of that early scene in The Magician’s Nephew - - caught in the cold, silent nothing of pitch black darkness, Polly and Digory suddenly hear sound, from infinite distance sound, a song, drawing closer, a clear voice: ASLAN singing Narnia into existence. 

Stories, metaphor - - Heilsgeschichte, holy history - -

bə·rê·šheeṯ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the surface of the waters - -
way·yō·mer ’ĕ·lō·hîm yə·hî
and said God,“let there BE”
and there WAS - - it was SO

and all that God SAID - - WAS - - IS

Where logos Word is concept, intent,
speaker, speaking, what is spoken, the result - - 
the thought, the will, the voice, 
the sound spoken (even where there are no ears to hear but only obedience, even the obedience of Nought, of nothingness), the
explosive ignition of creative force, BANG
the rumbling motion of coming into being, of settling into place, and
like the ordered and reordering bricks in Harry Potter’s wall, the startling notion of it;
logos: the theological precept of originating even ex-nihilo, at the Word of Preexistent Being.

This is logos, Word, the Ordering Will that underlies creation, the universe, all that is:

In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word WAS God.
The Word was in the beginning with and as God.
All things were made through the Word, and without the Word was not anything made that was made.

Gospel John proclaims - that that very logos the Word, the igniting of creation, became flesh and dwelt among us in and as Jesus, God, Christ, Eternal Preexistence, Authority, Being, Power, Presence, Intellect, Will, Force, Action, Love that stirred creation to its Becoming. Love.

This is an essence of logos the Word that Gospel John says came into the world as Jesus, full of Grace and Truth.

He whose Word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode.

Outside of pagan mythology the notion is incredible - - a mere human, a mortal, an earthling woman births the cosmic Son of Man sent by the Ancient of Days with glory and dominion to rule an everlasting kingdom, incredible

But this is what Gospel John proclaims and the Church teaches, preaches, we believe happened as shepherds watched over their flocks by night, not merely a wondrous birth, gloriously delivered, Messiah, Christ the Savior born to restore the throne of David - - but the very coming of the Son of Man - - all holy scripture fulfilled, a new beginning of salvation history. The Christian religion, our faith, is stories, because Word, Immanuel, is the closest we can get to our God. As Word is spoken, breathed and heard, nothing can come between us and God, nothing separates the speaking and the hearing, speaker and hearer, giver and receiver, where the gift is the giver himself, and the gift is logos, Word.

He came to His own, and His own received him not. But to all who received Him, YOU, if YOU receive him, if you accept him as you promise in Baptism, you set out to become what He is: chesed - - lovingkindness that quickens the relationship between God the Father and God the Son:

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

you renounce the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures God loves.

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

you turn to Jesus the Word and accept him as your Savior.

you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord.

you promise to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.

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

you promise to proclaim by word and especially example, the gospel of God in Jesus.

you promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.

you promise to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

That means, dear people, no hating or slamming Others, GOT IT?

no slamming liberals, GOT IT? 
no slamming conservatives, GOT IT?
no slamming Muslims, GOT IT? 
no slamming gay people, GOT IT? 
no slamming people on welfare, GOT IT? 
no slamming ANYONE who is different from you, GOT IT? 

Because what you are, what you have, your difference that makes you -- better in your eyes? - - is not a "blessing" as you thought - - but charge - - responsibility - - the Word of Manger and Cross, laid on you to proclaim and to carry into the world. 

You did not know, you had no idea, you thought you were just joining a church - - you never imagined what you’ve gotten yourself into by receiving Him whose Word cannot be broken. 

Jesus is as good as his Word, but you: you promised. Are you as good as your word?

Are you as good as your word?

+++++++++++

This unapologetic jumble was the likeness of a sermon on Christmas1B, Sunday, 20171231, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Panama City, Florida. The Rev Tom Weller. Gospel: the prologue to the Gospel according to John. Supporting text: Genesis 1:1f

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Years Eve Eve


6:07 AM, still dark outside but sky lightening (growing lighter, not lightning) toward sunrise. And, rats, cloudy totally overcast, cannot see the lineup of three planets in the eastern sky, mars, jupiter, mercury. Mercury seldom visible because, being so close to the sun, it’s just a flash at sunrise or sunset and gone. 

Time wasted this morning? IDK and really don’t care either, interesting anyway. From “this date in history” the USSR formed on this date I had a thorough mental rehearsal of the cold war and our toughness, worries, and fears of nuclear war, and enormous joy when the Soviet Union fell with a whimper and overnight ceased to exist. In some measure the USSR turned out in retrospect to have included a bit of bluster and not quite the military threat we had feared. A subscriber to the maxim that all government is always all ways all bad, it's governments that take us to war with its hatreds and horrors. Tentatively an anarchist, I hate all government and all governments, except our PC government that keeps our city clean and relatively safe. And the sense of security that comes from having what seems to be such a trustworthy county sheriff’s department for so many years.

Beyond that, leave Bay County, and you can have it. Somewhere this morning, after reading extensively about Rutherford B. Hayes (because he married his sweetheart Lucy Webb on this date), his personal and political career was extraordinary including his military service with Union forces during the late unpleasantries, an honest and ethical man, general, governor, member of congress and president, a man of integrity, I kept reading to where someone said that, counter to another maxim “grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,” the worst is yet to be if indeed it isn’t already happening. In another world, the worst might be an incoming meteorite, but in this world of worlds, the worst is underway as phrased by who remembers Pogo Possum and his pals Albert Alligator and Porky Porcupine et al, I do well and truly remember Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The worst is not yet to come at all, it’s simply that we don’t recognize it when we vote for it.


Like it or lump it, mox nix mir.


DThos+ 

Friday, December 29, 2017

drear is beautiful


Yesterday, indeed all our Happy Holidays weather this Holiday Season, could be an inspiration for Longfellow’s poem “The Rainy Day.” Though I might have been up and out walking - - if the weather is grim one nevertheless can walk down and up the stairs and around the underground garage, or go downstairs and work out in the gym - - my Happy Holidays role has been to survey StAndrewsBay from my favorite bayside window chair, myself being no more a good and healthy sign of energy than the day itself. 

Yet at 82 one who is aware and able is still and always mindful, thanks to the outlook of a brother-close friend who will be that forever, that every day is a beautiful day. Grateful for Time and memories and for having shared in Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed an earthling from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the earthling became a living being.”

Here’s that poem to go with the image of Depression that yesterday spread out before us

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary. 

But here’s a picture from my chair of this lovely early morning moment that has me sitting here sipping a cup of black and typing pensively, somewhat pensively, remembering other Times in my life when Joe drove away.



DThos+ in +Time+

Thursday, December 28, 2017

harbor

Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen recommend an exercise in brain gymnastics, which I opened this morning but, it seeming to require sound and everyone but me is asleep, saved it for later. Maybe I fear I can’t do brain stuff anymore. Maybe I can’t. Maybe I have nothing to fear but fear itself. Maybe I don’t give a damn. Maybe I'll come back to it later, either when everyone is awake or with my earbuds. Writing this blogpost, some days when my mind is occupied elsewhere and otherwise, has been my attempt at mental exercise, but most days it’s the same level as the physical exercise of lifting my fork. This morning after sleeping 7 pm to 3 am, sitting here at Bay window watching the lights flash, sipping black coffee, half-dozing and contemplating going back to bed.

Joe arrived from NC last Friday, returns home tomorrow morning. This always takes me back to the endings when Nicholas would be returning home for school after spending the summer with me. But it’s like all of life.

4:27 am as a tug moves into sight and position, signalling me to look across, where a ship of some size, maybe the Progreso run, just now entered the Pass into the Bay, heading for West Terminal. Now gliding by 7H



DThos+ in +Time+ 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Every day


What, no blog today? Busy with family. And with delivering a kitchen cabinet to my office, we bought it as part of a kitchen renovation of the rectory in 1984 and it has been an extra here and there ever since, will be the new coffee mess cabinet in my office conference room. But especially today with catching up on sleep, nap. 

Truth, I believe it’s not possible to catch up on sleep, if you miss it you miss it and there’s no making it up. But a 2 or 3 hour nap set upon me today and I slept until well past noon on our livingroom sofa that we bought at a furniture store in LaJolla, California one Saturday morning the fall of 1969 before my ship deployed to WestPac. Over the years it’s moved from showpiece to centerpiece and now that the living room is our only sitting room, it gets all the action, including where everyone crashes for a nap, and is showing wear. Both it and we are entitled. 

What? we finished the beef tenderloin about noon, not “lunch” because while Joe was out for lunch we just stood at the kitchen counter and ate the last two slices. Delicious. Ray was sure he’d cooked it a smidgen too long, but not so, it was perfect. And next, for vile weather like today, rainy, windy, cold, bone-chilling nasty, we have a pot of turkey soup on the kitchen stove. 

Christmas chocolate, i’m going to make it last. This morning, a chocolate fig, each fig wrapped in foil, chocolate-covered and seemed to be chocolate infused, scrumptious beyond description.  

Wednesday, a beautiful day. The day is lovely, every day is a beautiful day for those of us in Time, or +Time, or here with me here in +Time+.


DThos+

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

http://outlawoyster.com/

Interesting and fun Christmas Day, continues on with whatever elegant Tuesday breakfast Linda is stirring up, and the turkey (yesterday we had a beef tenderloin from which early today I enjoyed a sandwich) for noontide feast. 

Deliciously, lots of chocolate in my section of the excitement. Uniquely, astonishingly even Linda in on the secret, the Spinks arrived with an ice chest containing a couple dozen oysters, beautiful, uniform even to the dark stripe across the top shell, clean, from Outlaw Oyster Co. of Panacea. My ancient oyster knife dug out from its drawer, I towelled up and instantly began opening these for whomever. Joe had several, Ray had at least one, Kristen had one, Britany had one, I had the most and will finish the remaining six or seven for breakfast this morning. Delicious, briny and perfect, they are farmed oysters that are amazingly clean, no dirt or grime, because they are raised at or near the surface instead of oysters’ usual bottom living, loving and feeding. 


A book to read part of, the Rise and Fall of the Incomparable Liturgy the Book of Common Prayer 1559 - 1906 by Bryan D. Spinks. This being my kind of liturgical love and theology, I may need to order my own copy to read at leisure instead of rushing through before the Mazda returns to Tallahassee early afternoon.

Cold outside for us 40sF and dry, feels bitter though it isn’t. 


On the second day of Christmas, my …

Monday, December 25, 2017

merry, happy


Xmas, it’s early keep the Xpistos in Christmas morning, predawn dark, cold, and clear as a bell farther than the eye can see. Christmas tree lights are on, with a tiny watercolor of our beloved rectory in the background, as holy to us as any crucifix.


One might think the holy man should be having spiritual thoughts, yet what is going on? first things he spots are not Santa’s reindeer drawn sleigh dashing out of sight, but a 1930 Viking Eight


and a thirty years later 1960 Cadillac hardtop coupe, retrospectively an ultimate in debauchery from the General


at the height of the long trunk tail fins craze. 

1960, where was I, were we? Early making a Navy career, as a Navy lieutenant (junior grade), called “jay-gee” assigned to Naval Station, Mayport, Florida. December 1960 my boss, a Navy commander, had just reached me by phone, we were on leave at home here in PC, to tell me my name was on the selection list for lieutenant. Malinda was her daddy's baby, and our son Joe was a month old. This Christmas morning fifty-seven years later, Joe is still asleep in the Beck room at the other end of 7H. 

And, shame, shame, shame, yesterday a friend's gift to me was a box of Sanders dark chocolates with an early 1900s car picture on top



and I just now ate the last one.

Happy Christmas to all …


DThos+

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hail Mary (Advent4B sermon 20171224)



Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
In the sixth month God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee, to Mary, a παρθένος espoused to Joseph ben-David. "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus."

It’s about Mary, isn’t it, Mary Sunday: the elevation of this plain and simple, naive, innocent, humble, trusting - - pregnant but unmarried Galilean παρθένος (the Greek word both Luke and Matthew gleaned from Isaiah 7:14) - - in Isaiah’s Hebrew הָעַלְמָ֗ה -ha-almah, a maiden, a ripe young woman, a new bride; but in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek language translation of the Hebrew Bible, παρθένος, a maiden, even a virgin - - Mary’s elevation to Mother of God, Queen of Heaven signifies that God loves even the least of us; or more, that God loves precisely the least of us - - you, even you, God loves you, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. Even the Bread given you at the Altar this morning means “God loves you.”

The divine love story is the gospel of Christmas & Easter - - Christmas that God comes because God loves you and longs to be Immanuel, God with you - - Easter that God returns lovingly in love: that throughout Salvation History regardless how you treat God, God never gives up on you. 

So, Mary stories: mixing canonical gospels -- at Christmas the Luke and Matthew Nativity stories - - the church remembers ~ 
  • that Mary consented to the blatant sin of unwed pregnancy, a capital crime, 
  • how Mary loved and protected her son, 
  • Mary’s agonizing grief as we brutalized and tortured him to death,  
  • Mary, as Jesus’ torn and ravished body is taken down from the Cross and laid in his Mother’s arms. 
There are beautiful stories as well as tragic, mysterious: 
  • the mystical visits of the angel Gabriel to Mary and to Joseph, 
  • the multitude of heavenly host in the night sky, 
  • the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men,
  • that day in the Temple when Mary was troubled, shaken, as Simeon prophesied, “a sword shall pierce your very soul.” 
  • the flight to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous jealousy,
  • the moment when, from the Cross, Jesus handed Mary over to the Beloved Disciple to love as his own mother, and to be her son, as indeed we are all Mary’s children. 

The moment is near, Advent: he comes at last. In a world that we have made cold and hateful, something happens in the darkness: heaven breaks through the night sky, and suddenly all the Mary stories are about you. And because of what the Holy Mother has done, peace comes, and blessed assurance. If only for the moment, the Peace of God comes. Though human cruelty takes Jesus from Mary, Time gives Jesus to you, into your care, to love and to become, as his disciple in baptism. We are baptized into the Way of the Cross, the Kingdom of God here on earth - - because God loves you - - loves you equally and fully as God loves Jesus the Son. That love of God calls you profoundly to Jesus, not to the foot of his Cross, but onto the Cross with Jesus, God loves you that much. When the Advent Mystery is unsealed, this is the “Why?” of Christmas, that loving even you, God calls you to become all that Jesus is, yourself as fully a child of God as the child in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger, Jesus of Bethlehem and Calvary. 

+++   +++   +++ 

Wonderful things will happen this evening as we hear again the story of God’s love for us, shepherds in the fields, sore afraid as the night sky fills with angels proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest,” and we gather round a manger to behold God’s glory: a human child, in the Divine Image just as you are, because God loves you.

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to thy word.”


Holy Mary, Mother of God, we praise you and we bless you; because by your Holy Child you give us the Manger and the Cross.



Advent 4B sermon in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Sunday, 24 December 2017, the Rev. Tom Weller. Published only to keep a promise.

interim post

Sans organized thought, some wandering nonsensical this morning, but the process may wake me up, and when all is done and said that’s the idea. 

Of course, all is not done and said, I must have another look through sermon notes for eight o’clock and ten-thirty worship. This morning is Advent Four, Mary Sunday, about once a year to remember the BVM, a piece without which the Xn jigsaw puzzle is incomplete, especially the Xmas riddle. In fact, when does Xmas start: well, sundown, as in the evening and the morning were one day. Easy. It’s Advent Four until sundown at which point Merry Christmas.

Decent breakfasts around here, yesterday and again today, delicious sausage with toasted extra thin ww bread. Dinner, as Sandbar wasn’t open we went to Hunt’s and brought home more than we ate there. Supper, cup of tea and slice of panettone. Elements of the holiday feasts are beginning to assemble, meats for Xmas and BoxingDay, sweet potato something, two pecan pies, frozen dessert cupcakes from a creamery, turkey dressing, I’ll have to add oysters to my serving (scallop experiment at Tgiving was not pleasing), Ray is bringing a sprouts dish, Tass is bringing a dish and eggnog pie. I don’t know what all. I also serve who only sit and wait.


DThos+

Saturday, December 23, 2017

red

Initials, two or three initials, yesterday I woke up with the start of a cold - - which I’ve scrupulously tried to avoid by staying out of stores and when can’t be helped, by taking one of those alcohol hand wipes at the door. Evidently somehow I missed, or perhaps touched the handrail in the elevators here at Harbour Village. So, initials, Linda is plying me with cold capsules, they come in daytime and nighttime, that ID themselves by two or three initials or something. Intial capsules to swallow and zinc hard candy to suck. The cold’s still here, settling in firmly, but the symptoms are suppressed. Don’t get close to me. Don't mess with me.

This morning, “Sir Banana” in my coffee. Joe brought a qyart of it, real bananas and reduced fat milk. Delicious if one likes bananas, I do. This concoction makes an interesting coffee whitener. 

In about an hour Joe is going to take Linda to the church so she can set up her arrangement on the chest in the foyer (in the church it’s called the narthex for some reason that I know but am not about to bother remembering this morning), while I get ready for the day, then Joe and I are to drive out to Laguna Beach in his red Volvo sedan to get the beef tenderloin for Xmas dinner. Big change this year. Beef on Xmas Day, the turkey on Boxing Day, which you Americans call the Feast of Stephen. Ha, you Americans never even heard of Stephen. Old Saint Winceslas looked down On the Feast of Stephen While the snow lay on the ground Deep and thick and even. Does that ring a bell? No? I thought not.

We have arrived at that Time in the Advent Season when we’ve heard all the Christmas Carols we want to hear and it’s not even Christmas yet; we get to sing them tomorrow evening at the Christmas Eve services, then Christmas Season goes to January 6, Epiphany, and we want to move on but there are all these carols and Christmas hymns yet to sing. Somehow, clinging to some semblance of Advent tradition (i.e., not singing Christmas carols overagainst their blaring across the culture anyway) mars Christmas itself when it finally arrives to stay for a couple weeks. Fish and company.


Assuming the morning’s Time accommodates, Joe and I will have lunch at the beach. Maybe Sandbar, IDK. My favorite there: a pound of royal reds, steamed, and with the cajun butter sauce. They are large and red, and their texture and taste reminds me more of lobster than of shrimp.


DThos+

Friday, December 22, 2017

bloody murder


Early evening we treated ourselves to a movie I especially wanted to see, the 2017 production of Murder on the Orient Express. Hercule Poirot is new where no one could equal the portrayal David Suchet brought to the character with his tottering penguin walk, expressions, fastidious fussiness, precious mannerisms. 


A couple favorite lines. Poirot declining Ratchett’s job offer with the observation that it’s not just that the case doesn’t interest him, it’s more personal, “I don’t like your face.” And later with passengers assembled in, I think the diner, “I am perhaps the greatest detective in the world.”

Great movie, indescribably beautiful scenes, but quite serious, only a line or two of humor (above). I might rather find the dvd 1974 movie with all superstar cast and also the tv production with Suchet. 

Today’s excitement: son Joe here for a week!


DThos+