Friday, May 30, 2008

Ain't it the truth...

Another explanation from the Inimitable Dave Walker, who Explains It All for Us, like Sister Mary Ignatius, only funnier...

"home again, McGinty..."

One of our pastimes week before last was remembering as many of our father's pat phrases as we could...and this morning's title was one of them. Who McGinty was, and lost in the mists of time.

Back at my the absence (yesterday and today) of Excellent Secketry...with a heap of phone messages, far, far too many emails, and the same wretched midden of paper that was here when I left. Augmented, a bit, if possible.

The time in Adjacent Province was delightful...good weather, good folks (quite open to hearing about Jeremy Taylor, too, bless them), good food, good beds; my exposure to retail books was limited to 15 minutes (enough to get me some Mary Oliver, though)...and I hadn't known how much my heart yearned for a landscape with some CLIVITY to it (both ac- and de-...).

Two rehearsals today, two weddings tomorrow, and I guess somebody is preaching on Sunday: oh, yes, that would be me...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

a bit of a lull, here.

A glimpse of our time away last to watch these little guys zipping about!(Picture is by Daughter Unit!) You can check her comments on our trip right here.

Two more little people baptized this morning, hurray; I didn't have to preach, double hurray.

I have a quiet afternoon and then a major meeting this evening, after which I pack for next week's sojourn away. I am flying at noon tomorrow to Adjacent Province, all in among the Pointy Bits of the eastern interior...and will spend three nights in "beautiful church place" leading this blessed retreat...back here with a huge load before me including two weddings next Saturday -- help!!

Struggling to find what might be most central and/or most interesting in Jeremy Taylor...I suspect it may be the pastoral problem of people who have committed themselves in faith for reasons which are intellectually flimsy or specious. After a lot of struggle himself, he concludes that it doesn't matter WHY we believe, only THAT we believe. But it is a struggle, for a properly educated Christian Humanist, to concede such a thing. (Them as was in authority told me all about Christian Humanists when I was only 18 years old; nobody told me the last one died in 1674. It did sound like one heck of a great gig, though, SIGH.)

I'm thinking of questions I've seen raised by the RevGals -- when do we put the pastor on hold for a moment in order to become the theological teacher?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

well, exactly!

A tip of the Crimson crash helmet to Pseudopiskie for this one!

I am putting together my notes for this week's retreat on Anglican Spirituality, of which the focus is Jeremy Taylor. You may expect to see Taylor-isms in some profusion in the weeks to come.

"As our life is very short, so it is very miserable; and therefore it is well it is short."

HOO BOY! Preach it, Jerry.

But he would have liked the carrots-idea. He isn't a Pelagian, by any means, but he just isn't so frantically Augustinian as some of his contemporaries. It's not altogether enough to say you repent, and to say you have faith...let's see what you DO, and slicing carrots would be right up his alley, God rest him.

The trip to Our Nation's Ca-pi-tal and its hinterland was a great comfort and a good break from routine. Saw all my sibs and their spouses and their several sons; we had sunshine on the interment-of-ashes, and then "Daddy and Mother took us out for lunch, one more time..." at a very, very fancy-schmancy restaurant, menu written in the foodie equivalent of Linear lots of hilarious conversation with youthful nephews: "what on earth do you suppose that might be?" And the food was lovely.

You know what is nice? What is nice, is a Customer Serviceperson, answering the "lost or stolen credit card" phone on a Saturday morning, who starts her response to one's lost-card plea with "Oh Noooooo! That's terrible!" and then gets on with the cancelling and the notifying and the replacing and the verifying.

Thanks be to God, there's been no untoward activity on any of the cards so far cancelled. AND I now have a temporary, but legal, driver's licence again...they tactfully did not ask me HOW I had made my unlicensed way to the issuing agency...(wink)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vicissitude, thy name is Rambler...

The brief version is this -- sometime between 8:30 and 9:45, some miscreant gained entry to my church office and made off with my wallet, out of my purse, which was under my desk (where else, right)(Well, actually, could have been lots of other places...)(some of them both more secure and less obvious).

A fair chunk of cash...and ALL my ID except my passport, and ALL my credit cards.

The suckitude index around here is just out of sight at the moment.

Except that while I was madly phoning credit card companies after the service...the congregation had a whip-round at the coffee hour...and sent one of the younger and cuter of their number to say, "This is to replace what was in your wallet, and here is also a good book to read on the plane..."

He was immediately followed by a couple of very large parishioners, older and not quite so cute, to say, "Hey. Do you need SERIOUS CASH for this trip? Because You Just Say..."

And the service went great, hey -- something had to...scrumptious babies and they didn't cry, great music, lots of Nigerian visitors in vivid garb, full-press dedication of altar ornaments...

During the service there was a posse out beating the hedges, ditches, and dumpsters in the neighbourhood, in case the thief had just snatched the cash and dumped the rest...but...

No Wallet. The Rambler will now lead the Simple Life, not being able to get to her bank for a replacement convenience card for almost two weeks.

I shall spend the rest of the day calling 1-800 numbers to cancel things.

"Merde alors," as La Rochefoucauld might have said. And probably did.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

a fine moment...

After the wedding this afternoon I skibbled over to Major Supermarket with Bakery and found 2 1/4 slab decent looking cakes, one with pink roses, one with blue. After some negotiation I bought them both and was allowed to leave them in the store's cooler for pickup later.

There was an Affable Youth at the bakery counter who took them from me for safekeeping. On the off chance I asked whether it was too late to have anything written on them.

"Well," he said, "I can TRY: I'm not a Normal Cake Person, but I can try." I suggested he was an Extraordinary Cake Person and left him to it, to write "Happy Baptism" on both of them.

At the wedding reception one of my fellow guests asked, "Did you tell him how to SPELL baptism?" and expressed skepticism when I said I thought he could handle it.

Sure enough, the lettering is correct and tidy ... I was congratulating him on being able to spell "baptism."

"Oh hey," he said, "that's no problem, I was raised Catholic, eh? Heck, I can even spell RECONCILIATION!!!"

I laughed all the way back to the church... so thankful for these heart-comforting vignettes!

Trinity Sunday, and other excitements...

I haven't posted a sermon in a while so HERE is what I'm saying in the morning, God willing. It is going to be a marathon of a service -- two little people to baptize and an elaborate dedication of new altar frontal, superfrontal, and candlesticks. They won't let me have any smoke to do this properly, so I have concocted the verbal equivalent of smoke in the dedication service...

Among so many things to be thankful for, this morning, I am conscious of two very personal reasons to give thanks.
First – that none of you is now running or is likely to run for President of the United States.
Second – that I have not had to make a living – so far, anyhow – as a car thief. Not too long ago there was a movie about stealing cars as a business – I think it was called Gone in 60 Seconds… and there was great drama in just how fast a thief can complete the task of stealing a car. The thief was long gone in much less time than it usually takes me to find my (perfectly legitimate) key, get into my car, get it started, and get out of the driveway. Not a career I’m suited for, I can tell.

Something of the speed and agility and sheer chutzpah of a car-thief, though, would be welcome this morning in the preaching task. Look for a moment at what is before us: we have to do justice to the whole of Creation (in the first reading and the Psalm), to the Great Commission (in the Gospel), and isn’t it merciful that all Paul says this morning is “GOODBYE”? And then we have to say something graceful and inspiring about Holy Baptism, which we’re about to celebrate; and then we have to come up with a clear, unambiguous, theologically sound exposition of the crucial doctrine of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity – and try to do it all in 12 minutes or less. Not quite the deadline imposed on successful car-theft…but still, no more than a moment in the span of our lives, much less of Christian history.

Therefore, let us begin. We are here together, in a fellowship; we are here with people we have known for some time, and with people we have never met. We are not just a random crowd, like passengers on an LRT platform; we have been brought here, whether we’re aware or not, brought together by God. We are here because God wants us here. He wants us here to accomplish a purpose of his; and his purpose is our good, whether that is obvious to us or not. So one dimension of our fellowship this morning is that it is ETERNAL; it is TRANSCENDENT; it takes part in a reality we affirm by faith but cannot necessarily prove by evidence. Our very fellowship, then, partakes of the eternal and transcendent nature of God; and so we are put in mind of the first person of the Trinity, God the Father.

But as I said, we have been brought together FOR OUR GOOD – not just for our collective good but for our good as human persons, unique and precious and irreplaceable human creatures made in the image and likeness of God; and we are about to admit two very new human persons, unique and precious and irreplaceable persons, into the community of those who know and give thanks that they are made in God’s image. And so another dimension of our fellowship this morning is that it is INCARNATE, it celebrates the homely, personal human nature that was not disdained by the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. And so we are put in mind of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And finally we acknowledge that we are gathered into this fellowship so that we may be TRANSFORMED according to God’s purpose, transformed by the presence of God in the creating and blessing Word of the Father – that his creation is all, very, good; transformed by the presence of God in the human intimacy and humility of the Word made flesh, Jesus his Son; transformed finally by the presence of God in the third person of the Trinity, who has had US in mind all along.

Accordingly we find ourselves and our fellowship embraced by the freedom and playfulness and subtle, irresistible power of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to put all things in order, to be reconciled one to another, to live in peace and to be ONE, and to make disciples of all nations, as, this morning, by God’s grace and in celebration of his unfathomable love for us all, we will begin to make disciples of N--- and M------, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Let us be about our task! Amen! Alleluia!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


After weeks of saying, "NO I WON'T (and you can't make me)"...I allowed my name to stand for El Supremo of Prairie Metropolis-cum-Hinterland's Council of Churches.

Well, what can I say. I was encouraged. Also pressured. Also I am a Big Wimp.

And we have to do something about ecumenism in this neck of the woods -- for years now we have all been "putting the scowl of resignation on the face of stupidity" (that's an approximate quote from George Macdonald Fraser, Flashman at the Charge), and wagging our heads, and saying to each other, "Well, of course this is the Winter of Ecumenism in these parts, nothing to be done, can't be bothered to try anything, let's meet again next month." And wondering why attendance dwindles.

So here we go. At least now the meetings of Council and of Exec will be here at MH & U, and administrative support supplied by Extraordinary Secketry-Person in the next office. I stopped on my way back here from the Council meeting and bought her a boodle of roses to CELEBRATE her becoming Administrative Secretary...without even knowing about it. She was gracious and supportive. There is some remuneration involved, which helps.

[Pause to capture a bumble-bee with a tea-cup and index card, and toss her safely out the window. Bees always remind me of my curacy...and the afternoon that a posse of elderly ladies arrived in my office, full of dismay, and announced, "Rambler! There is a BEEEEEEEEEE in the church!" Plainly in their view of the universe, it was up to the deacon to deal with BEEEEEEEEES in the church. So I did.]

I think I'll do a bit of organization here and then head for home and work some more on my retreat material (on Jeremy Taylor).

It was summer-hot today...wonderful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

goodness of God, continued

A beautiful sunny day, and some of my more pressing obligations today have receded -- others have been MET, good grief, mustn't make a habit of THIS...

The Invaluable Secketry-Person dove into her big cabinet this morning and produced sought-after files, ka-boom. We are wrestling two or three different and separate bureaucracies about funding for our new furnaces/boilers. Thanks be to God in fifteen different positions for my Wardens -- GREAT meeting last night...sorting PAPER and clarifying information and arranging SEQUENCES...the project was threatening to be one that would never get done because nothing could be done until something else had been done? You know the kind I mean? A process designed by Escher, I think. Or the man Moebius. He of the Strip.

But we all came away in good spirits with well-defined tasks and I am getting mine DONE.

And then I had a drop-in visit from Military Parishioner, a doctor home on leave from Kandahar where he works at the Canadian base hospital. Precious time. Dr. Soldier, and his Gorgeous Wife, and their two great strapping affable teen-aged sons, are the kind of family we all DREAM about having in our parishes. Talk about Moral Influence, hoo boy... Please keep them in your prayers. He returns to Afghanistan next weekend for another 3.5 months, and the separation is hard on all of them.

I am going to sneak out and find some lunch at this point. Then hard at it again all afternoon and into the evening.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

a various Tuesday

We had a fine celebratory weekend here at MH&U. Our visitors were affable and engaging. Attendance was good. Breakfast as cooked up for the between-services gap was delicious and copious. All branches of the music ministry worked together -- I can't resist it -- harmoniously...

And the consecration and seating of our new Bishop went extremely smoothly, given the extraordinary numbers of all orders (lay, deacons, priests, bishops) in attendance. Music was glorious...Nanaimo Bars, following the liturgy, were abundant. It is doubtful whether any rite in the Anglican Church of Canada can be considered legal, licit, and valid, without the ceremonial consumption of Nanaimo Bars following.

I apologize for the "silent spell." Deep, deep in unbloggably painful territory this week...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

wheeeee....just because I CAN...

This isn't actually the Rambler, nor does it represent the weather in Prairie Metropolis today. But the picture, part of a series (round and round the pickup truck), just came my I thought I'd share.

New play-toy...

My new laptop arrived yesterday afternoon and WonderSecketry and I had a ball unpacking it and oohing and aahing over all its widgets.

I can't claim it's completely tame to hand, yet...but it gives me access to much if not to everything!

I am interspersing bouts of office-cleanup with bouts of Jeremy Taylor -- preparation for a retreat I'm leading in 3 weeks or so.

Otherwise, it's all quite...peaceful...this morning. Most unusual.

Reading Wilken on Early Christian Thought and drawing much sustenance from his work...a great help last week with the Ascension lections and the references to authority, i.e., "who you gonna believe?"

It is warm and summery ... and my tulips have all stood up again, WHEW! after the late snowfall -- they are about to bloom any day now. Lilacs are leafing out around my bedroom window. Peony shoots are up in the church garden. Chives and Chervil showing in what passes for a herb-bed at my house. I have hopes of getting home tonight in time to do some thoughtful raking of "where my grass was when I had grass."

So nice to have broad daylight at 6:30 in the a.m.!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sense of Humor, and other inconveniences...

Time wasted this weekend -- I was sent a very brief Youtube video on Facebook -- most of you have probably seen it, it's about 45 seconds of japery about a pipe organ with, allegedly, a 128' register. Some seconds spent watching the organist's hands, then a shot of the 128' "Earthquake" stop, danger sign, flashing yellow light, tremendous bass notes right on cue, and then it cuts away to some long-range shots of the demolition of vacant medium-rise apartment buildings. And that was all. Very simple joke: organ plays, buildings fall down. Huzzah!

So I posted it from my Facebook account to a number of "friends," many of them musicians, not a few of them organists or otherwise church-attached.

The next thing I knew, I had both an email message and a Facebook message from a parishioner and "friend" who had NOT received the video but had seen it listed on her newsfeed...berating me for posting anything so insensitive and frightening ... because she has a family member who lives in New York and the memories of 9/11 were so shattering etc. etc. And I must remove it forthwith.

Pause to reflect WHY so many women who try to be characters by Margaret Mitchell wind up as characters by Tennessee Williams, but never mind that now.

I finally messaged back to say, "don't know why you looked at the video as it wasn't sent to you, good to know what you don't like, won't send you anything of the sort, but doggone it I'll post what I please" -- and pointed out that the pipe-organ video had nothing in common with 9/11 except the law of gravity.

Sat back preparing to abridge the parish list by one household, but fortunately her son came home from college on the weekend, and, apprised by Ma of the brouhaha, said, "Oh for gosh sakes, Ma, you thought Babe was a violent movie, get over yourself..."

And people wonder why my blog is pseudonymous.