Saturday, June 25, 2011

Love after Love -- Derek Walcott

Not preaching this week, folks, and I have nothing to bring to the breakfast table at the moment except a poem which has been thrust at me this week from a number of sources. I hope you find it as up-building as I do!

Love After Love

Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

sermon draft for Trinity Sunday.

This morning we are invited to move, imaginatively, from Creation to Commission.
Given the content of our readings this morning – and the official designation of ‘Trinity Sunday,’ we might be pardoned for inferring that the Great Commission, with which the Gospel reading culminates, is a commission to go and carry out indoctrination—heaven knows, it has been understood and implemented in that way, so we have to HOPE it is pardonable! In the light of the reading from Genesis, then we might think that this morning we’re hearing, “Here is a highly unlikely and indefensible tale about the beginning of all things, now your job is to get out there and make people [say they] believe it—or it will be the worse for them – and for you.” “Oh and while you’re at it, make them believe in the doctrine of the Trinity – did you see it zip past, there in the Epistle?”
So it’s tempting to linger on the doctrine of the Trinity, especially if we have a taste for confusing, contradictory, beautiful insoluble riddles—in traditional language: The Father is God (and all the God there is), the Son is God (and all the God there is), the Holy Spirit is God (a.a.t.G.t.i.), BUT – the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father…Lovely numerical formulas that will NOT be reduced to arithmetic…and a hearer may say: “But that makes NO SENSE” and the theologian sighs happily and says, “I know, but isn’t it WONDERFUL?”
And along about then, if we’re lucky, we hear a voice from the back pew or thereabouts; it goes something like this—“Reverend, what does this have to do with weighing trucks? Because weighing trucks is what I do, all day, every day…” – weighing trucks, or slinging burgers, or changing diapers, or processing applications, or marking assignments, -- you name it – and I’d like to know what this doctrine has to do with me.
The obvious answer is, “apparently nothing” – but the real answer is “everything.” It helps if we can grasp that the teaching about the Trinity, which sounds like a word game, is rooted in a charismatic experience of God, an encounter with God. Did you see the letter Canterbury wrote to the little girl in Scotland, who asked him who invented God? He explained that people didn’t ‘make up’ God – they met God, found God, experienced the presence of God…and then when they wanted to share that, to talk about what they had discovered, they had to think about it and put it into words, and—as RW said – they made up some ideas ABOUT God (some of them sensible, some not so sensible)…and these statements about ideas, ideas of an experience, were refined and defined and defended over a very long time in no-holds-barred debate.
The fallout from this process was that the things Christians agreed could be TAUGHT about God tended to become supreme in their own right, instead of being endorsed as just workably trustworthy sorts of things that could be said. They were, and are, subjected to tests though. One test of a doctrine goes like this: what kind of person, and what kind of community, will this idea produce if it is made an official teaching? That is one very useful test of the wholesomeness of church teaching /Gospel of Judas/. One of the ways of sorting the sensible ideas from the not so sensible ideas.
A second kind of ‘control’ over the ideas that we compose – the recollection of the inadequacy of ALL our words to capture and convey the essence of God completely (it has a name – it’s called APOPHASIS). You know how in our blessing we always specify that the peace of God passes our understanding? Well, EVERYTHING about God passes our understanding. Not just ours, but the understanding of the greatest saints, and the angels, and the archangels. What we CAN think will not do justice to what we have experienced, or to what we have inherited from the experience of others; and what we CAN say will not do justice to what we are able to think.
Now the result of this experience of inadequacy should be (too seldom is) a decent modesty and forbearance and grateful joy that God has generously allowed his truth and his glory to be approached, to be embraced, and to be communicated to any degree at all in human language (Levinas)…much less in a way that is trustworthy, that allows us to share it with each other…
And what have we to share, this morning? That at the very heart of God what we find is a relationship, a relatedness – a dynamic, creating, faithful connectedness that we have to call LOVE.
I heard two lovely provocative questions – conversation starters, I suppose – this week: the first one was “what would you do for love?” and when we roll that question around, we are invited to see that everything done by the triune God is done “for love” – creation, redemption, resurrection…everything, done for love – love holds the Trinity together – it’s sort of a centripetal force – but it’s centrifugal as well – it moves the persons of the Trinity outward toward the created world including us, and then, in a rhythm like rhythm of breathing, like the rhythm of the heart, draws us in also. (Are we beginning to get a clue about what our mission is?)
And the second question was this: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The second question is like unto the first one if we remember that perfect love takes fear right off the board…and that this relatedness at the heart of what God is makes no room for fear at all, …but invites everything that is to come and share in the unending dance of loving and being loved.
Are we beginning to see what our commission to make disciples might look like? I think so… and we’re also invited to see that our commission is not about indoctrination, but about invitation; not about some kind of dedicated commando raid on the cosmos, but about the way we live our everyday working lives, the way we do every single thing we do… Even weighing trucks. With love. And without fear.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday, Monday, Monday...

Sun is apparent this morning, and has been since about 4:30.
I am continuing work on my personal recipe collection -- a bigger binder, proper (well, home-made proper) page lifter/category markers (I KNEW that those sheets of cardboard in panty-hose packages would be useful for SOMETHING), a heap of "off-size" things that have to be filed otherwise; and a smaller heap of pages that have to be restored and reinforced before they can go back into the binder.

Now I need you to imagine the three-hole punch... and its inevitable "confetti" ... and the Nefer-titi Cat ... as adjuncts to this whole process.

In the meantime I broke off and had some breakfast. Time for PARFAIT ("cuz nobody..." etc.). There is fresh yogurt (really really nice this time too. Trying to remember that genetics is important here, and to note what brand of commercial yogurt I used to start the process.); there are slightly senior fresh strawberries; there is some homemade granola in the bottom of the jar (augmented with 1/4 cup of biscotti crumbs, and about the same amount of home-made poppycock from a Christmas package). Oh ok, and about 2 Tbsp. of dark-amber maple syrup.

This blog is sounding awfully foodie lately. But I'm coming to suspect that most of my really important life-changing moments hit while I'm in the kitchen. And I'm going on a maxim from one of my brothers: "The more ya cook, the better ya look."

Later -- listening to Dog, the Bounty Hunter in the background, and worrying... somehow I omitted to name my children properly or choose the proper profession; so that they have never enjoyed the experience of hearing me holler, "GET'ER, Youngblood! GET'ER! Whoo-ee!!" I only hope they can forgive me.

Oh, and I found another whole stash of recipes, some of which I thought were GONE. So it's all good.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

peaceful Sunday

The Rambler is currently in charge of things -- in the Pickwickian or ecclesiastical sense -- at St. Curious, in the absence of FabRector on vacation (and attending a conference).
Interesting challenge this morning, though, in addition to the usual liturgical hurdles, homiletic tasks, pastoral demands.
Message from FabRector night before last, by way of Social Utility, that she has "received an offer of marriage." And said yes.
Now this comes as a surprise to exactly no-one. Including the Wise Wednesday Women of St. Curious. Who have been 'pumping' the Rambler mercilessly for details about FabRector's "beau." Mainly, about whether the Rambler APPROVES of this arrangement. Reassured on that count, they promised, "All right then, we'll get to work to WARM UP to him."
FabRector's "beau" managed to keep the good news to himself for a very brief period of time before making it public on Social Utility.
So now -- does the Rambler make an announcement this morning? or play dumb? and what if somebody says, "Hey! I hear..." What will be the tactful response?
Working on the principle that people need to be given the opportunity to Tell Their Own News, I opted for silence. So far, so good. We have Social Utilitarians among the parishioners, but not many.
If we can maintain this "lull" through the Wednesday morning get-together, we will be home free.
And then the wedding planning, shrieking with excitement etc., can begin in earnest.

Never dull, never.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday preachateria

I think today i'll make a post out of what is going on in my day hour by hour, and publish it when I finally give up!

9 a.m. thinking about sermon. doing my kitchen counter scrub-down routine. starting a new sourdough, using some senescent yeast (I hope). (THAT'LL PREACH) my neighbour is jack-hammering--he's replacing his garage, and has gotten down to removing the concrete pad, poor soul. furnace has come on, and we are glad. it's a grey and clammy sort of day. thinking thoughts about "NOW will you restore the kingdom to Israel???" and some contemporary versions of anti-imperium and/or Liberation Theology. I'm hearing an echo; is it just me?

10 a.m. playing on computer. conducting FB conversations with two out of town friends simultaneously. all very exciting. thinking about hymns for Pentecost on the 12th. hockey history on TV behind me, here in the living room. watched by #1 Son and hockey-fan cat. the Toronto Maple Leafs in their glory days, staffed by thugs from the mining communities -- some very familiar images from the Rambler's childhood.

11 a.m., television has moved on to British soccer, and thence to darts. neighbour continues to run the jackhammer. I have washed and applied polish to a large double handful of miscellaneous silver teaspoons and coffee spoons. have cooked and eaten 9 big mushrooms, fried, on toast (2 pieces). glass of o.j. also. elderly yeast has stepped up, sourdough is bubbling hopefully. still cuddling my original cup of coffee from this morning, now cold of course...if the Glycemic-Index diet-book says I can't have ANY coffee, and I'd ordinarily have three or four cups at least during the day...maybe just one and that one BLACK will represent good faith on my part? thinking about sermon some more, thinking about the "last sentence" -- thanks, friend -- I think it has to be the last sentence of the gospel, a good platform for an ecumenical pitch, a strong one. The oikumene as over against the imperium. Aha.

12 noon and we're on, at last, to tennis. enough, I think, of the professional sports. will now find something more stimulating, or turn the TV off altogether. neighbour is taking a break from the jackhammer. I need to assemble a baking dish of manicotti, and cook the filling for a prospective tourtiere. televisually, the choice seems to be John Wayne or Gregory Peck... either way, the Myth of Retributive Violence seems to be in good repair.

1 p.m. ok, have set a big bowl of yogurt in the oven-- time to find some soup for lunch...tremendous engine noises from my neighbour's yard, which might mean "Vehicle Stuck" but may only mean they are lifting the broken pieces of concrete into a truck.
something in the sermon about changing the direction of our gaze to be a witness to something -- what does that mean? doesn't it mean looking in a different direction? looking in a hard, confusing direction, carrying the lens of what we have witnessed...a persisting image on the inner retina. There. I think that will do it.

Almost 3 p.m. I have made a little spinach frittata for my (late) lunch. I am cooking up the filling for my tourtiere, and I have the ingredients out of the fridge to make the manicotti. In the meantime I hard-cooked a couple of eggs, which let me dispose of the carton (it will go to the food bank). Watching Cahill: U.S. Marshal -- well, no, treating it more like a radio drama... and will shortly get back to reading Katherine Paterson, The Spying Heart...and that will do for today...clean clothes ready for tomorrow, house in reasonable order, working on this week's grocery list.

Friday, June 3, 2011

the Friday Five

It's that time of year when the only new things on television are music/dance competitions (the 21st century answer to variety shows?). Yes, it's the season of reruns.

This week the clock turned back to last fall and the Glee kids went back to school and still got "slushied," and Michael hired his nephew on The Office, which was not something even he would be likely to repeat.

In honor of this annual Time Warp, please share five things worth a repeat. These could be books, movies, CDs, recipes, vacations, or even TV shows.

1. Television shows: How can any list not start with The West Wing? Great characters, great situations, and enough throw-away lines per episode to stock a whole season of any standard TV dramatic series. (Remember: "My God, King Lear is a good play..." -- "A verb would be good, sometime soon"...)

2. Books: Well -- I wish I could find a copy of Eric Mascall's Via Media; -- it can be downloaded from Google but only in the US of A, apparently.

3. Movies: A whole long list -- Song of the South--I missed one Very Anticipated showing of it the summer I turned six, because I woke up that morning with chicken pox...nearly broke my heart -- I should explain we were living in far northern British Columbia and a movie was a darn seldom thing, involving a projector and giant cans of film arriving by float plane from Juneau, very big deal indeed. But another great movie in that list was Carnegie Hall...and Kes, which is now available on DVD, worth seeing again.

4. Recipes: I wish I could recapture what one of my grandmothers used to do to a fried potato. And I wish I could recapture what the other grandmother could do with a chocolate cake, peppermint boiled frosting, and bitter chocolate topping...

5. Vacations: I would love to be going on a family driving vacation this summer... or taking a three-week trip to Italy with my children ... or planning to get on a big boat with a whole bunch of RevGals. Oh wait -- I am.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

a quiet Thursday.

At the end of the day, not displeased with what is now DONE...but boy, a lifetime habit of procrastination is hard to break.

But.... some bills got paid, some things got cleaned, some food and drink were prepared, some finances were put in order, some paper was abolished...some text was read, including some blogs...some phone calls, some internet chats, some television.

What's left? well -- run the dishwasher, iron a small heap of "flats", set a batch of yogurt, clear off my bed (I sleep in some of it, I pile books and periodicals on the rest); some notes to write -- and blog to post.

Happiness of the day was getting my registration form in for the BE 5.0. In the morning...will arrange to get the initial payment made via Western Union.

We here in the True North (Strong and Free) are threatened with rotating postal strikes, beginning at midnight tonight... I believe in organized labour, I believe in collective bargaining, I believe in the right to strike--I just wish they wouldn't exercise it when I have things to mail and time is of the essence. On the other hand, ordinary folks now make so little use of the postal service, I wonder what effectiveness a strike will have...or whether this may not be a case of "cutting their nose off to spite their face."

so...breakfast with a friend in the morning, and then Western Union, lunch with another friend, a session with my Siggy -- and some sermon work.

This may be the Sunday to make the pitch for ecumenism, taking advantage of John 17. Not sure yet.

I made a big batch of cold-brew coffee this morning...anticipating, perhaps, some warm weather.

Two or three issues of TLS await attention. In fact we scored TLS, the New Yorker, and Canadian Living all in one day's mail this week. Two parts ideas, one part recipes. Onward and upward toward the Perfectly Balanced Existence.

Reading Katherine Paterson's The Spying Heart, on writing for children.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday again...

A pleasant sort of a day, mainly at home -- after going in to celebrate the eucharist, and then lead the book study with the Wednesday ladies, and then bolting across town to an ecumenical executive meeting...emails let us down and we had not-quite-a-quorum, but enough to make a practicable plan for our next steps. And good coffee of a Netherlandish intensity, and sugar cookies alongside.

Home and some reading -- made some purchases for St. Curious, bought insect repellent, made some financial plans (short-term), completed the laundry, with just a small basketful of flat ironing to do in the morning.

And then my ambition kind of petered out. But somewhere in there I finished Charlotte Bronte, Shirley, which I've found a delight for its depiction of the collisions between the heroines and the particular personalities of the clergy. I infer that Charlotte Bronte was not impressed when her father's curates "dissed" Yorkshire customs and manners.

I have a bundle of periodical reading here also -- and a little chapbook from Ursula Le Guin, The Wild Girls, with an essay on reading and an essay on modesty, both of which are eminently quotable.

Fred McMurray and Joan Crawford on the TCM channel in Above Suspicion, which was a great book; and they're always fun to watch, but I think I am just too sleepy tonight.