Monday, April 12, 2010

here we go

I seemed to recall at some point this weekend that in the civilized i.e. pre-ordination world, Monday = Laundry. So I am prepared to implement that ancient ritual today and see what comes of it. Still chilly out...but sunny for a change.

Consulted the Social Utility this morning and was instantly contacted by young lady whose Mom has been co-ordinator of the Marriage Preparation programme at MH & U for 5+ years (and elsewhere for longer than that). Mom is a social worker who spends part of each year on contract work in the Arctic, where she is now. Yesterday she went skiing. She fell. She broke her hip. Marriage Prep is scheduled for this coming weekend...and the coordinator is trapped the former Northwest Territories... don't ask me whether it's "Nunavut" or "The-rest-avut" for I have never known which was which. Anyhow, she is one hell of a long way UP on your map of North America.

Actually she is to be medevac'ed to Our Nation's Capital today for surgery tonight...but in the meantime she is frantic through a fog of pain meds about this weekend's programme and the arrangements that remained to be made. Cuz she ain't gonna be there, friends.

Her daughter, TBTG, is in nursing studies in eastern Canada a short air-hop from her Mom's destination and can be there today to advise, comfort, and advocate.

So I have phoned Former Fab Curate (still Fab, but no longer my curate), and disrupted his day off, and named myself available to help next weekend IF and as needed...and now I am leaving him to it. Wonder Secketry at MH & U is the world's genuine expert on how these weekend deals run, so when she comes back to the office tomorrow I have every confidence in their combined ability to make it all happen.

Wonderful, wonderful ecumenical gathering on Saturday evening to hear Fr. Tom Ryan talk about the special gifts/charisms of four streams of Christian experience: Protestant, Anglican, Eastern, and Roman Catholic. I realized that few things -- still -- can make me happier than taking pages and pages of notes while somebody else talks good sense. I was tempted, a bit, to go home and completely re-cast the Thomas sermon, but instead I came home and went to bed...

And yesterday, I think, rocked. And then I came home and had a solid proper 2 hour nap in my bed, and got up and cooked a most excellent supper for self and #1 son, diminishing a number of the bulkier vegetable items in the fridge...and was even fired up enough to complete the kitchen clean-up before heading for bed!

Another ecumenical committee meeting this afternoon...and meantime the washer and the ironing board are "calling me..."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thomas et al.

(who's this "Al" character, anyhow?)

Ok this is the GIST of tomorrow's sermon. Or maybe the PITH. Preaching seems to consist mainly of GISTS and PITHS...some of mine are pithier than others. Sometimes they are so pithy, I could jutht thpit (OK, that's not original).

Here is Misnamed Thomas again, waiting for us to notice that he IS named in Scripture, and he isn't called Doubting, he's called Didymus -- Twin Thomas. And coyly, Sceripture doesn't tell us who his twin was/is. We hear all about Simon Cyrene's kinfolks, but not Thomas's double. And you thought this was an accident?

Thomas is not in the group when the group is visited by Jesus; why not? He was too sad? he was too distraught? his kid had hockey practice? No. Thomas was not there because the group needed him to encounter Jesus in their midst in a different way which would enrich, deepen, validate, GROUND their encounter with the Risen One. The story requires somebody to be out of step with the rest.
This isn't the first time Thomas has been wrong-footed -- not to forget he was the one of the whole bunch that got on board with the outrage of Jesus' explanation of what was going to happen at Passover. "OK, then, if he's going to get killed, let's all go get killed while we're at it." Not the words of a doubter. Not a skeptic.

Because Thomas is not a skeptic -- he's like Umberto Eco, who in dialogue with Carlo Cardinal Martini, douce man that he was, defended himself: "I am NOT a skeptic, Your Eminence -- I am merely NOT CREDULOUS." (cuz credulity ain't faith, right?)

I could digress here about 15 minutes' worth on how Thomas just keeps his screen door hooked, and then I would quote THIS in its entirety...

Easter Morning
William Stafford

Maybe someone comes to the door and says,
"Repent," and you say, "Come on in," and it's
Jesus. That's when all you ever did, or said,
or even thought, suddenly wakes up again and
sings out, "I'm still here," and you know it's true.
You just shiver alive and are left standing
there suddenly brought to account: saved.

Except, maybe that someone says, "I've got a deal
for you." And you listen, because that's how
you're trained---they told you, "Always hear both sides."
So then the slick voice can sell you anything, even
Hell, which is what you're getting by listening.
Well, what should you do? I'd say always go to
the door, yes, but keep the screen locked. Then,
while you hold the Bible in one hand, lean forward
and say carefully, "Jesus?"

But I probably won't.

The point is that the group needs the challenge of that wonderful moment when out-of-step Thomas says, "My Lord and my God" -- they still had the initial clutch-and-grab oh-good-he's-back reaction -- they weren't going to move off that place of comfort without Thomas's near-blasphemous blurt.

But then there's another piece of the story -- and I don't for one minute think that Jesus was "dissing" Thomas. The story is told to reassure people who were not part of the Old Original Galilean Veteran Marching and Chowder Society, and could never have been. Because we plant our foot as a faithful people on the reality, the factuality, of an event in time, but we have to avoid getting ourselves boxed into "back in the day," "you had to be there" thinking. So Jesus speaks reassurance to those who will not see and yet will believe. That would be US, my dear brothers and sisters. We haven't missed anything essential, by being "born out of time."

That's our comfort. But there's never comfort without challenge; and the challenge comes in asking "HOW" those who have not seen are blessed? They must be blessed by the witness of those who have encountered the Risen One. And this is where the rest of the disciples are, by implication, smacked on the head. Because their witness is not effective -- they don't say, "Jesus is Risen!" No, they say, "WE have seen the Lord!" and no wonder Thomas says, in effect, "Well, big whoop for you." Their witness has not yet made room for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which they received so casually on Jesus' first visit (reference here to the explanation by Peter in the Acts passage, that the Spirit herself is witness to the resurrection in and through those who are proclaiming it -- even the original generation who "saw it with their own eyes."

And that is our challenge -- so to receive the power of the Holy Spirit that our own witness will be effectual blessing to our neighbours.

I think that's all. Obviously I've got to peel it back a good deal.

I love Thomas, can you tell? He's right up there with Jonah among My Favourite Gnarly Friends of God.

Oh yes -- the "other" twin? I have a strong suspicion that Thomas is twin to each of us...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, again

My question now is whether anything got done today...I have at least filled the waste-basket to overflowing and that has to mean progress. I can see the top of my desk, and the top tray of my in-basket. I have eaten a quantity of raw veggies by way of lunch, or whatever it was. And I have put together a great big pot of chili con carne, and eaten a bowl of it for my supper (and it was good).

There is a small stack of envelopes here to go to the post office tonight or tomorrow... and another stack of letters to answer and envelopes to address before I turn in. I've written a cheque for the insurance on the house.

The snow has just about disappeared again, but the wind hasn't much abated -- it's still buffeting the house and the trees in the back yard. We were supposed to have a sunny day but that didn't materialize, and the temperature isn't much above freezing even yet; I don't think the snow melted, I think it just sublimated for the most part.

I have to finish cleaning up in the kitchen, and empty the laundry basket... and there are some things I should be bagging up for garbage collection on Monday.

and preaching Thomas on Sunday...the comfort and challenge for us in that story.

I think I'll have a look at the Friday Five in the morning, perhaps.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

latenight bulletin

At present... we are having quite a violent snowstorm, very squally with winds up to 90 kph out of the west and northwest. The snow is coming in just about horizontal, although it's "almost rain." Major highways south of Prairie Metropolis have been closed by the police for the time being. The moisture will be welcome...especially for the "urban forest" -- our municipal trees are facing a critical summer after a series of very dry ones. I am thinking about getting some plastic buckets (I know! I should eat more ice cream!) to ease the transfer of household "grey water" outside to the trees and other parts of the Unpleasaunce here at Tether's End. But that is not going to need doing today or tomorrow either.

I had a long conversation this afternoon with a young theologian...gratifying in the first instance because we managed between us to carry out the tacit negotiations necessary to arrive at the same coffee shop at the same hour...after a minor "failure to communicate." And in the meantime as I was waiting for him, I had the pleasure of a conversation with Daughter Unit's Fave Fab professor-couple from her university days.

What else got accomplished today? Not very much. Tomorrow, tomorrow. There is a sermon in the offing...and paperwork to do...and before I go to bed, I must remember to write a cheque and put it in the mailbox for the milkman. Yes! I may have the last remaining door-delivery milkaman in the world.

Number 1 Son Unit has come in, found something to eat, and gone off to bed. I should finish loading the dishwasher and start it when I turn in... There should be some laundry done tomorrow...and perhaps it's time to warm up the shredder again...and tackle the paper mountain.

Time to take my Tylenol and do these last few pre-bedtime chores. Good night all.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

miduum of the triduum...

Taking a short break this afternoon for a nice grilled cheese sandwich with bread and butter pickles (internal to the sandwich, mmmm) ... a homemade latte ... a little desultory television...and then time to get changed and saddle up and go do a communion visit. Back to St. Curious in time for the Vigil tonight at 8...assisted by three other parishes, so the Rambler gets to ride the bench unless one of the visiting clergy sprains something vital.
It's been a good Holy Week at St. Curious -- Palm Sunday went beautifully including some slightly impromptu processing by children and choir, happy distribution of home-made palm branches (hooray for newsprint): then daily Eucharists Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; a students' supper Maundy Thursday followed by a mighty footwashing (on a scale hitherto unknown in those parts); children doing a fine and happy activity on Good Friday during the Good Friday devotions -- with a very good turn-out, mightily cheering to one and all.
A lovely interlude on Friday evening -- local small chorus has established the tradition of a "sacred concert" on Good Friday in the Fancy Schmancy Downtown Concert Hall; and this year their choice was the Brahms Deutsches Requiem; 30 some select voices and piano accompaniment. There was a good crowd including a significant number of local clergy--it is such a treat late on Good Friday to participate in something beautiful and reverent without having to DRIVE it!
And this morning an innovation, an Easter Egg hunt on the church grounds for children of the community, and thanks be to God there was no snow to contend with...contrary to ALL expectations (head-shaking, tooth-sucking expectations), there were at least 20 children in attendance and a whooping good time was had by all.
Just to ensure that the laughter never stops... Fab Rector at St. Curious was up early this morning and let out her Faithful Dog, who went out like the valiant creature he is and promptly found a skunk. They did not part friends. So on her schedule today also is the de-stinking of her mephitic hound (also self, house, clothing, etc. etc.).

Nobody has as much fun as we do, nobody.

And there were swans this morning, flying over the river...
Happy Easter, alleluia.