Monday, May 15, 2017

Sometimes This Job* Stinks :'(

It's one of the saddest verses in the Gospels. Jesus, fresh from amazing teaching, healings and casting out demons, and even raising a girl from the dead, comes to his hometown of Nazareth.
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
                                                 — St. Mark 6:5, ESV
But after what transpired this afternoon (and, yes, given my recent dealings with these particular people, I knew that this may not end well — and, indeed, it didn't), I might rest a bit better tonight remembering that there were times when even the Son of God couldn't help someone.

Maybe.

Pray for them. Pray for me. Pray for pastors who don't always perform miracles.

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* – I know, the Holy Ministry isn't a "job," it's a calling from God. Which just makes this feel even worse. Don't worry, though, I'll survive this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Worried about the West's vanishing Christian character? Go to church!

Melanie McDonagh writes at The Spectator on the conversation of the decline of the Church of England, but it applies here in the US, too:
So, I have a simple proposal for the cultural Christians who agonise about the rise of Islam and the vanishing Christian character of Britain: go to church. Take the place of Generation A. Turn up for Easter Sunday as well as Christmas; keep Pentecost Sunday, because hardly anyone now knows what Whit Sunday stands for, and Ascension Thursday. There are lots of churches out there, you know: Anglicans in cities are spoiled for choice, and you can’t throw a brick in places like Norfolk without landing on something fabulous from the fifteenth century. Anglicans have, moreover, for those that seek it out, the loveliest liturgy, and you don’t deserve it. There are rubbish clergy, of course, but, you know, it’s possible to separate your feelings about the thing that’s being celebrated from the celebrant (Catholics are quite good at this). So, get out there. The numbers attending Anglican services fell below a million at the beginning of last year; they’re still falling.

It’s kind of Matthew Parris to wish the CofE well from outside, but the institution is not going to survive on the basis of the flying buttresses (to quote Winston Churchill) alone; it needs pillars even more. Go and get stuck in, reader, or else abstain from complaining about the cultural atrophy of the West.
Read it all here.

This Sunday we'll be observing the 90th Anniversary of the dedication of the current Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peoria. It's not from the fifteenth century, but it's still pretty fabulous, with a lovely liturgy, and the clergy... Well, if you're near Peoria, here's a place for you.

Tip o' the hat to Canon Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Repost: Black Friday

Today is the real Black Friday.


Originally posted here Good Friday 2015.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hey Father!

So after eating, Todd and I are walking up University Street to the parking lot when we hear the shout, "Hey Father!" Todd spots her first, a black woman waiting in the left-turn lane who'd rolled down her window. The corner of University and Main is, especially at Noon, the most congested in Peoria. Hers is the only car with an open window and she's looking our way, waving her arm.

"Hey, Father, can you pray for my nephew? We lost him yesterday, he's 3 months old."

"Absolutely," I shout to her across the street.

"Pray for his family, too, Father" she continues. "His name is L... K.... Pray for them when you pray next."

"I will," I say as we start walking again and she thanks me and the light changes so she'll be able to make that left turn onto Main.

And I have. As I have for C..., who rang up my groceries at the market the other evening. Her request wasn't as specific, but she was appreciative that I would pray the Holy Spirit to watch over her.

This was only moments after Todd and I had prayed,
...I pray that all my intention, actions, and works of this day may be directed solely to the greater glory of God's Divine Majesty....

Does this happen to pastors who wear polo shirts?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Community? Not!

I just heard it used again on a radio broadcast and I've had it. The speaker was representing "the hospital community." A few weeks ago a young woman described trying to break into "the modeling community." The "education community" is upset over the President-elect's choice for their Cabinet post.

Nonsense! These aren't "communities," where people live or have personal relationships with one another like the community in which I was raised or the communities with whom I worship the Lord Jesus. I didn't pass the CPA exam to become part of "the accounting community." These are businesses, trades, professions, industries.

I know. Language changes over time. Words take on expanded, or new, or even very different, meanings. And when that happens to help in understanding or communicating, it can be well and good. But more often than not these new "communities" are just trying to put a human face on something that is often not very friendly or neighborly.

The community doctor of decades ago listened when you weren't feeling well. I remember my dad's doctor -- and we were part of the Kaiser plan, one of the original "health maintenance organizations" -- coming to the house when he had the mumps. Just like Marcus Welby or Dr. Kildare! Recently the local hospital stopped allowing one's family doctor to be one's attending physician. You must be treated by their "hospitalist" and your doctor isn't supposed to even come in through the doors to be part of your care.

But this afternoon on the radio they're "the hospital community," kindly concerned about the repeal of Obamacare. Not the hospital industry having first access to everyone's money. Yeah.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My SFnal Day

Carrie Fisher died this morning. I was 18 when she burst indelibly into my eyes as Princess Leia in Stars Wars. She was not-yet 21.

For dinner tonight I had breen. It's a Narn food I learned about on Babylon 5. G'Kar tells us it is one of those universal mysteries, for every known sentient race has a food just like it. On Earth we call it "swedish meatballs."

As the photo might suggest, I saw Rogue One. That's the tub of popcorn I'm holding. In the end it is a satisfying film, much more satisfying than the last film in the Stars Wars franchise, The Force Awakens. But it takes a while to get there. In fact, midway through the film the litany against fear from Dune entered my mind:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear....
Probably not the best thing to have going through my mind while watching a Star Wars film.

But in the end Rogue One was a satisfying film, with the final word pronounced by Princess Leia herself — hope. Ah, to be 18 again. May Carrie Fisher rest in peace.

It was a nice way to finish the day, even if I didn't finish my popcorn. But that will be very good tomorrow.

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"SFnal" means "science fictional," from the abbreviation commonly used by readers of science fiction, "SF."

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Election

I posted the following earlier today at ALPB Forum Online in response to comments on the topic "Election followup." Pastor Zip

I picked up reading long before starting Kindergarten in 1964.

One of my books (which I probably read a couple of hundred times) was a child's biography of President Kennedy, which in addition to lots of pictures told of his ancestry and childhood, schooling, service on PT 109, Congressional and Senate campaigns as a Democrat (running against the Republican Henry Cabot Lodge), marriage to Jackie and their children (who were about my age), and his election as our first Catholic President. I don't recall whether it included his assassination, but I certainly read his story many, many times remembering that and his funeral on TV. Whether it was part of the book or not, I knew at age 4 that his story ended in tragedy.

Even then I knew my parents were not Democrats. They had not supported JFK in '60 and would not have supported him in '64. And these were not unusual perspectives in the West San Fernando Valley of the 1960s. But they taught their young boy to respect the President of the United States and admire his accomplishments and good qualities. Even if you didn't agree with him. Even if you worked to oppose something he wanted to do.

And as I've seen and heard reactions these last few days to the election here, and on the news, and on my Facebook feed, I've thought about that book a lot. Thankfully.