Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Letting people take up their own crosses is not really all that easy when you care about them. Take, for instance, Peter's dilemma in Matthew 16: 21-28:

21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

In the story, Peter, being a protective kind of guy, is hearing some bad stuff going down. Jesus means everything to him. It is his natural response to want to protect Jesus. Let's be real, our best attributes and our worst faults are so very enmeshed with each other. It's us as "good cop" and us as "bad cop". For a certain segment of us, "protectiveness" runs heavy. Peter (and I) tend to be a little bit that way. Sort of in the same neighborhood as mother cougars protecting their babies.

Peter's the kind of guy who the deepest part of him would defend Jesus to the death (despite him getting cold feet a little later--he more than makes up for those three denials by dying a martyr's death). It is just natural for him to bristle up and say, "Oh, no, Jesus, no way, this is not going to happen to you," and probably goes on and says, "Let one SOB touch a hair on your head and his ass is grass!" Now, in all fairness, Peter has no clue at this point there is a deeper meaning. He just knows something's going down that has the potential to take his teacher and friend away from him.

I had to laugh during Wallace's sermon today because he spoke to not listening to someone speaking the painful truth as being a form of betrayal. Now, with me being very closely aligned with Peter, what happens in the "mind of Kirkepiscatoid?" This thought flashes through, that goes, "Huh? Betrayal? Isn't that a little dramatic? He's just being misguidedly loyal!" In other words, I mentally stick up for my buddy Peter and mentally snarl at the vicar! This initial visceral response started showing up as my own resistance to listening, all the way through the sermon...and fighting to listen because the voices in my head are going, "Betrayal, my ass. Oh, horseshit. You shouldn't pick on my buddy Peter, he's a good guy!" Talk about distracting myself from the task at hand!

But let's look at the take home message here. The take home message is we all have knee-jerk reactions that are not always the best choice, and we need to sit still with them instead of immediately reacting and subsequently acting upon them. Our knee jerk reactions are not always rooted in the truth. Mostly they are rooted in our own loss and often in the fear of losing something dear and precious to us. They make us dead to the real problem and the real connection with others. I like to say, "Satan resides between my two ears" but the truth is whatever we consider "Satan"--evil--also resides within our interactions with each other.

Now, eventually Peter comes around, and he is loyal to Jesus till the end and beyond, despite his missteps. Yeah, he screws up in big ways now and then, but ultimately he goes to what's right and true and good.

Now let's switch gears and look at this story from Jesus' point of view. Only Jesus really knows what the score is here, and I'm not sure he didn't figure that part out until near the end. I think he gains an awareness from the beginning of each Gospel to the end. I think in this story, I am imagining Jesus feeling a little heavy about what he told the disciples anyway because he'd like to avoid it himself, but he knows he can't because he is catching on to who he is.

Now, Jesus knows Peter loves him. Maybe Peter's love is more out in the open than all of 'em. But I sort of imagine Jesus as "just not in the mood." On a good day, he could have handled Peter's misguided loyalty better. But he's so bummed himself, he just does not need this guy--even though he is a good friend and possibly his most out front disciple--in his face, threatening to beat the shit out of all the bad guys. So Jesus, being fully human, as well as fully divine, just basically lets it all degrade to what my grandmother used to call a "Screw you/go to hell" moment. In my family, this was a moment when tempers flared and the focus of the conversation shifted in a heart beat to being irked at each other, and it usually ended with the two parties yelling those two phrases at each other, storming off, and then later going, "What the hell were we mad at? Let's make up, ok?"

Well, and that is what I think happens when Peter crawls down Jesus' back. Jesus basically goes, "Aw, Peter, just STFU. You don't know what I know and I'm telling you this shit is going down and you need to shut up and listen to what I'm telling you."

Now, I like to believe, the part that is not in the Gospel but is in "The Gospel according to Kirkepiscatoid" is Jesus stepped back and thought, "Oh, hell. I shouldn't have snapped at him like that. But aw, dammit, he just sooooo gets in my personal space sometimes! Awwww....but there's somethin' about him I can't shake. I couldn't have a better friend. I need to remember that." Somewhere down the line, they made up. Jesus told Peter what was going down. Maybe one on one. He said to Peter, "Dude, I don't need you to fly off the handle in defense of me. I need you to be WITH me." And Peter said, "Jesus, you got it. I'm sorry I got pissed. It's just that I don't want you to die. I just don't want anything to happen to you, man!"

Now why do I say this is in "The Gospel according to Kirkepiscatoid?" Because look what happens in the next chapter...who all does he take to witness the Transfiguration? Peter, James, and John. He wouldn't have asked Peter along on this if he were still miffed at him.

That is the thing about people having to take up their own crosses. The more we love them, the more we don't want them to have to do it. Peter would have taken on Jesus' pain to spare Jesus. Parents would take on the pain of their children to get them to see the light to stop abusing drugs, stop behaving badly, stop any number of things. Sisters would take on the financial burdens of siblings to keep the sibling's house from the foreclosure auction. You get the drift.

But these are often crosses the person has to bear themselves. We cannot save them. We can only be with them as it happens, and that is ten times more painful b/c it feels like "we aren't doing anything for them." But to simply be with someone in their hour of need is a mitzvah beyond belief, and we need to honor that!

Well, gee whiz, this makes two holidays in a row where I am feeling a little on the lonesome side of life. Part of it is because I am on call (just as I was on the July 4th holiday) and it keeps me from going much of anywhere. Also, some of it is it hasn't been a good week for M., my friend with dementia. He has been a little wound up about his confusion; can't blame him there. Unlike Alzheimer's type dementia, he KNOWS what is going on and it hurts him like hell.

Truthfully, I have been grieving the last few days "the loss of M. as I once knew him." He was my weekend companion for golf, TV sports, suppers, beers for many years. He was my best colleague at work. I miss that guy. I ended up taking care of him because there was no one in the area to do it. I could not abandon him. But on my lonesome days, I realize my close relationship with him and my caretaking of him kept me from pursuing my own opportunities for long term life partners. There are days I am very sad about all of it. Today is one of those days.

Oh, I know I'll get past it. I don't stay in these kind of moods for long. But I also know that I am picky as hell in my older middle age, and spiritually at a different place than I used to be, so the ways I tried to relieve "relationship boredom" are just not applicable anymore. Is there a person out there for me? Oh, hell, who knows. I have never been an attractive first impression. I am too salty, too blunt, and not horribly gifted in the feminine charms and wiles. But once a fellow gets past all my cyclone fence and barbed wire, he finds a very loyal and giving and honest person.

I have so many great relationships in my life. It's just that none of them are of the significant other type, and I am pretty impatient about pretense, the dating game, etc. I am set in my ways and I know it.

But today, yeah, I have an attack of the lonesomes. It is simply the price of admission for being a person of intense feelings!

Here's an easy way to handle your stewardship issues, scratch off a 3 million dollar lottery ticket and donate it to your church!

Why is it I have a feeling that the "True North Community Church" generally frowns upon gambling; therefore the winner of the ticket kind of got guilted into giving it to the church "anonymously"??????

That's another of the nice things about being Episcopalian--no one seems to worry much that I spend $2 a week on Powerball tickets every Wednesday and Saturday. Hmm...let's see...Powerball is up to 72 million...let's assume 35% taxes, that brings me down to 46.8 million bucks...if I took it all in cash, most of the time that slashes it in half so now I'm down to 23.4 million. Oh, I think I could find a little room in my heart to push some of it over to Trinity...although I noticed when I talk about my Powerball ticket to the vicar, he likes to remind me how much he owes on his SUV....and the priest associate likes to remind me how many miles she puts on her minivan as Hospice chaplain...I didn't realize "lay support for clergy" had anything to do with vehicles!!!!!

I have to show off my new gold crown on one of my molars. I split that tooth in four places while eating ice. (no lectures, please.) I have one other gold crown, on the same side but an upper molar. My crown on my left front upper tooth is porcelain with a base metal back; it is apparant I have a metal allergy b/c there is inflammation around it. So any tooth that needs crowning and is not "out front", I have decided to get in gold. To hell with the cosmetics, I don't need the gingivititis!

Anyway, I had to show off my bling!

Just wanted to put a picture of the late Mr. Willis Woo up, so you all could see why Little Eddie is attracted to the "scruffy faced" dog types!

Dear Señorita Chompita Wiggletail of Padre Mickey's blog, I'm Little Eddie. I live over at Kirkepiscatoid's house. As you can see, I haf a sad wook on my face. Datz b/c you are da woooman of my dreams and you live halfway across the world. You look a lot like the late Mr. Woo Dog looked in the face, and he was my best friend.

I don't have a looong Wiggletail like you but it is stubbly and waggly and it wags for you, Señorita Chompita Wiggletail. I am todo hombre even though I am proabably smaller than you. (Well, almost todo. Kirk took me for that little operashun.)

Oh, DAT. Dat is Mr. Boomer. Don't pay any attenshun to the sad look on Boomie's face. He is trying to play up to you b/c he knows I am in wuvvvv! He is trying to make me be the big eyed jealousy monster. He does not know how to wuvvvv a woooooman as fine as you, Señorita Chompita Wiggletail. He had his operashun way younger than I did!
But oh, Señorita Chompita Wiggletail, if you would only notice me, even though we are half a world away, I would wuuuvvvvvv you like no other dog could! I cudz be happy like dis!

Ok, after dealing with my leaky eyes, I needed a laugh and I found it in a weird news article from the BBC. I'm telling you, you can't make this stuff up!

Read this one from Rowan the Dog. It gave me leaky eyes, and Boomer and Little Eddie loved it.

One of the e-zines to which I subscribe had a Q&A section and in the section was the story of the problem a (non-Roman Catholic) chaplaincy director at a large hospital regarding communion wafers.

Historically, they kept a supply of wafers that had been consecrated by an RC priest for use for RC hospital patients, but they may have been distributed by non-RC chaplains (Ok, fine, my recollection from medical school is in certain circumstances, non-RC's can perform certain RC duties, like the Sacrament of the Sick.) However, in light of all the "wafer-mania" these days, the cardinal there decreed that only RC's could give RC-consecrated wafers to RC patients, and that the wafers had to be stored separately, so there would be no confusion in accidentally giving them to non-RC patients.

I got to thinking about my "deer meat chili."

When I lived in Columbia, I used to have to make the chili for the department potluck. I always made two pots; one with deer burger and one with hamburger. Columbia, being a little more cosmopolitan and more "bambiophilic" than Kirksville, had a populace a little less tolerant about deer chili, despite the fact deer roamed the neighborhoods in packs, flashing gang symbols and running into cars and through patio doors.

One year, the more I drank, the more I got p.o.'ed about the comments from the people who did not eat the deer chili. They could not just eat the hamburger chili, they had to make rude and snide comments about my even having BROUGHT the deer chili.

The next year, I brought my two pots of chili, and announced, "These are both hamburger chili."

I watched people eat the chili, enjoy it without making snide comments, and I just sat and smiled.

They were both made of deer burger.

...And that is what I'd do with those damn wafers....

Hat tip to Terry for this post. Here are my answers to the three questions and the two spares:

1. How do you feel about the term "born again"?

Kirkepiscatoid: Really really queasy, because it describes a specific type of "conversion experience" that is evangelical in nature, which is kind of foreign to liturgical, sacramental Christianity. It is a "code word" for "Are you spiritually one of us?"

2. Has anyone ever tried to save you?

Kirkepiscatoid: Oh yes. Many times, pretty much with no luck. But I do have to tell the story how there used to be tent revivals in the park when I was a kid, and at age eleven, my friends and I decided to "watch the show" (hey, small towns are boring...) and on a dare went up and got "saved." I have to admit I liked the attention, though.

3. Is there a difference between spirituality and religion?

Kirkepiscatoid: Oh, yeah. They can go together or be separate. To me, religion is the nuts and bolts of how you practice your spirituality publicly, but spirituality is much bigger than that. If I drew a Venn diagram, there would be a big circle labled spirituality, and a smaller circle labeled religion. The religion circle would be 3/4 included by the spirituality cirlce with a little bit (1/4) sticking outside the spirituality circle. That would be my version of the two for me.

Elsewhere, two additional questions are suggested:

4. Which spiritual person do you most admire?

Kirkepiscatoid: Hands down, Simon Peter. He's so human. He's so like me in a lot of ways. In for a dollar, in for a dime, but often in the middle of an "Oh, shit" moment. But despite his terribly glaring faults, he's so real and so overall solid.

5. What would you say to Christians if they would listen?

Kirkepiscatoid: Sit still and feel. Stop listening to other people so much.

Just another of the real church signs posted to the website...

Boy, ain't it the truth, when it comes to our real family and our church family at times?

People ask me how come I am "so darn funny" (That's funny as in comical, not funny as in weird, although I am that, too!) I have been told I am funny enough to do standup comedy; my reply is, "No, I'm funny enough to starve doing standup comedy."

I think it is because I once heard that "Comedy is tragedy plus time." I've had tragedy, I'm uber-sensitive to it, I feel it in a way most people don't allow it to be taken on. With the laws of physics demanding equal but opposite reactions...well, my sense of comedy only mirrors it!

Psalm 124

1If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—

2if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,

3then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;

4then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

5then over us would have gone the raging waters.

6Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

7We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

8Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

I have been working backwards through the Psalms as a spiritual exercise, starting with 150 and doing one every day till I get back to Psalm 1.

It is a story of the deliverance of the Jews, but it is a story of my deliverance, also. Maybe it is a story of your deliverance! I like it in its entirety, but I especially like v.7: “We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.”

Ok, I want you to imagine this bird, with a string still hanging from his leg and the noose around his ankle, with a broken end dangling.

I remember this moment in my life. The exact moment. I was 23 years old. Without going into a great deal of detail, I grew up in a sea of alcohol-fueled physical abuse. I was taught to think absolutely bizarre ways of "making children mind" was ok. There was a moment, when I was 23, that I no longer agreed to be an abused child, psychologically. My parents and I were supposed to go out for their anniversary. Dad was drunk. Very drunk. And behind the wheel. I refused to get in the car. At first, I tried cajoling and wheedling to talk him out. It just made him madder. Finally, I said, "No, I'm not going, then."

He then proceeded to launch into a tirade of what he was going to do to me if I didn't get in the car. I still remember my mom crying, begging me to get in the car, berating me for "causing trouble with your dad." I kept walking. He got out of the car and told me if I didn't get in, he would kill me--that he could chase me down and break my neck. I stopped and said, "Yes you can. But I still will not have gotten in the car." I kept walking, shaking, fearing he’d chase after me, but did it anyway. He did not follow. It was the moment I escaped the snare, the string still on my ankle. He never physically threatened me again from that moment on. My mom endured his abuse about five more years, but eventually they divorced. He remarried, I'm sure he still abuses his second wife, but he is a burned out shell of the threat he used to be, an old man who is much more mellow than in those days and far less explosive.

Then you know, years go by and, one day, I looked down, and the string was gone. It rotted off, or the noose loosened enough that I had stepped out of it and didn't even know it. The only thing left was it left a mark around my ankle. A scar.

Can you think back and remember “the moments of your deliverance?” The exact moments? Maybe they are not as dramatic as mine; maybe they are more dramatic, but I bet you can. In that moment, you can still feel the string on your ankle although it long rotted off.

I think about that in the Eucharistic Prayer when we say, “We celebrate the memorial of our redemption” b/c I can still remember those moments. I think about that when we say about Christ in the EP, “to live and die as one of us.” Wow, that means to feel our pain, our tragedy, and also our joy, our comedy.

The other problem with having had that snare on our legs, figuratively speaking, is that sometimes we feel the pain of that snare even when it no longer is real--sort of like how amputees feel "phantom limb pain."

Over the weekend, I had to go through a situation at our church where I did not speak up about something I should have spoken up about. I found myself incredibly angry at myself for not being able to articulate my dissent sooner. I was angry that this person who I considered an integral friend in my life was putting me in a situation where I had to fight that old feeling of "not speaking up to not make trouble." Even though I was in no danger of physical abuse anymore, I realized the old thread of physical abuse checkered my reality and made me cowardly to tell the truth.

But you know, that psalm is not just about our past. It’s about “deliverances yet to come.” Nothing earth-shattering perhaps, just the "cares of the world". They weigh us down. There are deliverances from some of these yet to come. They will feel wonderful. Things just don’t always feel great right this moment.

The bulk of this situation in my life has defused as of this morning, but I know there are some hard realities of it. I will have to deal with the tension it caused. I will have to reconcile some issues with this friend. I am not looking forward to it. But it will be ok. I'm sure of that. Maybe not ok like "everyone lives happily ever after" but it will level out somehow. I just don't like the work of doing it.

Oh, I also wanted to put a link up if any of you all were interesting in donating to help flood relief in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. If you use this link, in the comments section you might mention it is in honor of Team Pohick!

Great story to follow...

Every morning at breakfast, Team Pohick did a morning devotional based on Forward Day by Day. Wednesday's lesson was from Judges, Ch. 13, when Manoah and his wife got a lesson in recognizing angels. The commentary in FDBD talked about being smart enough to recognize angels when you encounter them. Here was their devotional lesson for the day (courtesy of Forward Day by Day):

Judges 13:15-24. Manoah did not know that [the man] was the angel of the LORD.

Do you believe in angels? I'm not talking about decorative figurines or the smiling cherubs of greeting cards. Angels are divine spokespersons. Do you believe in the kinds of angels who appear in the Bible?

There are two kinds of angels in the Bible. The first is impossible to mistake for anything else--a knock-you-down, in-your-face confrontation with the supernatural. Such angels usually say, before they get to their message, "Don't be afraid!" They say that because people are terrified of them.

The second kind of angel, like the one in today's reading from Judges, is usually mistaken for something else. Not only do they not frighten us, but we may not even give them a thought, so ordinary do they seem. Be careful, for you never know through whom the Lord will speak to you. Maybe through your child. Or your spouse. Or your boss. The postman, the cab driver, the person next to you in the checkout line, the politician you dislike, the homeless person on the street. Or that irritating, irascible jerk in the next office. Even your worst enemy. "Some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2)

Frank was having a bad day on Thursday. He discovered that he was going to have to remove all of the insulation under his house because of the risk of mold, and replace it. We went out and bought Tyvek suits and balaclavas, expecting to have to crawl around in the muck and goo of Frank's crawl space. Keep in mind the ages of Team Pohick range from 48 to 68. In other words, the spirit is willing but the knees, hips, and shoulders are weak! But just as we had resigned ourselves to the task, along came a group of age 20something Americorps volunteers, shown in the picture above.

Well, after that devotional lesson, we knew what angels look like, by golly! They were more than willing to do the work but didn't have the Tyvek suits....well, we supplied them, and it was all good!

If you have a chance, donate to Americorps. These are neat young folks. This group came from Cedar Rapids and although there is plenty of flood damage there for them to stay busy, some were dispatched to Iowa City. Some of them have previously learned about life the hard way, some are single parents, some are just not sure what to do next in life. But they are learning great lessons on volunteerism. We hope we gave them some degree of inspiration on the concept that volunteerism is a lifelong activity. Meanwhile, keep these angels unawares in your prayers.

Meet Team Pohick...well, Team Pohick plus one Missourian and one Iowegian. This is the group I joined up with to do flood relief, from Pohick Episcopal Church, Lorton, VA. The nucleus of Team Pohick has been to Katrina three times, so these people KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING when it comes to flood relief. This team went out on a mission trip to Iowa City the week of Aug, 11, 2008 to help in the flooded Riverside district of Iowa City, IA. Our tasks included painting, yard work, tree/bush removal, disinfecting gutted houses, and removing wet gross drywall and bathroom fixtures, just to name a few assorted tasks.

I figured out very quickly, as the "newbie" to just do what they told me to do!

The guys on Team Pohick are Tom, Mo, and Grant; the women are leader Kathy and Edde (short for Edwardene...what a great name...I'm betting her dad was named Edward????) The add-ons were me and Deacon Martha of the diocese of Iowa.

The photo was taken on "Frank's front porch." Frank was our favorite homeowner in the neighborhood and his story was very poignant. His wife recently became wheelchair bound. He bought this house and rehabbed it to make it handicap accessible, but it flooded before she could move in. Frank and his contractor buddy Roger were rehabbing it all over again from scratch. We did a lot of work at Frank's house, and it's no concidence our "brush with angels unawares" happened at Frank's house (more on that in an upcoming post).

Team Pohick is a "work hard, play hard" team in every sense of the word, and I was honored to be a part of the team, even if only for a few days!

Well, y'all, I am off to Iowa City today to spend a little of my vacation time helping do some cleanup under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa.

It started a few months ago, when B. at our church made an announcement about the severe spring flooding in Iowa and how it had affected her friends, and she asked for our prayers and our donations. I was so struck by the passion of her request, it sort of boiled in my brain for months.

I hope to be able to blog while there but if not, I'll give you all a rundown upon my return. Should be interesting and just a little adventurous!

This week's Gospel was Matthew's "Jesus walks on water, Peter gives it a go, doesn't fare terribly well." Wallace geared his sermon towards the fact this story occurs on the "fourth watch" (3-6 a.m.) and how a lot of the tumult, the stress, the worry in our life seems to hit us at 3 a.m.

The whole “sea, wind, tumult” thing was working on me today. All the talk about boats and waves and oceans and singing about peril on the see made me think of my “ocean of pasture” here in NE Missouri...with wind and thunderstorms and waving hay and green skies and hail, and oh, yeah...tornadoes. When I was sitting outside last night, enjoying the stars and the occasional meteor (after all, it IS the season for the Perseids...I have never outgrown the Perseids!), it was mostly calm, and then the wind picked up and made the leaves on my cottonwood tree rattle and hiss. You could feel the power of an incoming front. I sat out in it a while, even zipped in the house to put on a long sleeved shirt and grab a blanket so I could still sit outside in the reclining lawn chair and be in the middle of it and feel its power.

I can often totally identify with Peter. Every time I take one of those "What Disciple are you?" tests, I always score out as Peter. My friends have heard me say many times, “If you want me to (fill lin the blank), just say so, and I will.” Shades of “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”! Then Peter gets distracted by the wind and loses his focus on Jesus. Well, I can identify with THAT, too...that things can distract me and cause me to lose my focus on Christ. But Peter, being a guy that doesn't mince words, as he sinks, he doesn’t know much else to do except say “Lord, save me!” (Kyrie elaison). Hey, Peter is a heartfelt and direct kind of guy! No sense having any pretense about what is going on, he’s going to be pulled under in the storm and he’s a direct enough kind of guy to cut to the chase there! Like Peter, I know enough to just cut straight to the chase and admit I’m in over my head.

Fact of the matter is, though, that in our stormy sea of the cares of the world, it is so tempting to think, “Oh, Lord, the sea is so big and my boat is so small.” Well, hell, it IS big sometimes. Even if it’s not that big, it can FEEL big...and lonesome. But just like Peter blurting out “Lord, save me!”, God is there to pluck us out. Now that doesn’t mean we won’t be wet after this whole encounter. I have a feeling the part they don’t talk about in that story is that Peter felt a little like the proverbial drowned rat even after Jesus pulled him up....probably had a little water in his lungs from the stormy blasts of the waves, he’s soaked, he feels like I did the time I almost drowned when I got caught in a rip tide and an undertow out in Baja California, Mexico when I was thirteen. I was always a strong swimmer, but was out swimming probably just a little further than I ought to have been (I was out where the surfers were starting to surf in from,) and that stupid current just took me with it. Two surfers chased me down and caught me. I was in good enough shape to sit spraddle legged on one of their surfboards and ride back in, but I will never forget the feeling of helplessness as I felt my strength failing and was starting to be unable to keep my head above water, or the embarrassment that I had to be plucked out of the water.

One of the surfer dudes was trying to make me feel a little better, saying, “Kid, any of us can get caught in a rip tide if you’re out this far. You just had never experienced it and didn’t realize the thing to do was let go, not fight it. Next time, just let it take you till it dies out further out. You just have further back to swim, that’s all.”

Now there’s a concept...let go, don’t fight.

That is NOT an easy concept for me. 95% of where I got in this old world, I had to fight to get there. Letting go seems 180 degrees against my intuition at best, and just plain “wrong” at worst.

I’m reminded of a story my friend A. tells. He was the doc for the 101st Airborne in Vietnam. That meant he had to do jumps, same as Airborne, as part of his training. They were teaching him a trick where if you need to drop altitude in a short burst to get away from everyone else’s canopy, you can do this by maneuvering the chute a little. The problem is that you will literally free fall 30-50 feet when you do this maneuver...but sooner or later your chute WILL catch air and pull you back up to a normal descent. He said the first time he did this maneuver, his life literally flashed before him, it was that scary, to be free falling and realize you potentially could go “splat” at the end of this free falling. But he said, “I had to trust my instructor, and trust what he told me and sure enough, I didn’t panic and my chute caught air again and everything was cool.” It takes some doing to be ok with free falling in this world, yet knowing at some level that God will catch you and your chute will catch air again. Some of us can never do it. Some of us can. Personally, I’d rather be like Peter, swing my leg over that ol’ boat and say, “Lord, just tell me and I’ll do it!” even if the possibility exists for me to be afraid. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right????

Ok, another secret...I am a Book of Common Prayer junkie. I like collecting them from all over the world, different versions over history, etc. There are always parts of every version that I like to inscribe in my heart. For instance, in the Eucharistic Prayer in the 1661, I really dig the line:

"Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in earth." (I like the idea of church being militant, revolutionary, etc.)

But post-Lambeth, it was the prayer in the Church of Ireland's BCP for Christian unity that got to me...


O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince
of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are
in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and
whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that, as
there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one
Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may
henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond
of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one
mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I like the line, "Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions."

Note that it's not that "they" are in. It's "we". As Pogo says, "We have met the enemy and they is us."

There is a lesson in here for me, although I continue to struggle and pray that people finally "get" the concept of "the inclusive church." This struggle puts me in danger if I do not continue to cross-check my heart. I could let it eat me alive with anger and sarcasm. I can't just get mad. I have to pray, and I have to live in a way that models inclusivity. That is not always easy! It is hard for me to feel inclusive about haughty people, mean people (I really need one of those bumper stickers that says "mean people suck"), indecisive nebbish-y sort of people, people who whine, clingy people, people who can't seem to get off their fat ass and change their get the drift. Being inclusive to GLBT folks is easy for me compared to being inclusive to people with what I consider "dis-likeable traits". But you know what, exclusive behavior stops us from seeing the light of God in people, and if I am going to expect people who find inclusivity to GLBT folks difficult to change their perspective, I have to improve on my own habits of exclusivity.

If I cannot learn to be inclusive to those groups of people, then all my posturing about the inclusivity of GLBT people is for naught. It's all for social conscience and show.

This week, I think I am going to give more attention to praying to change these behaviors of exclusivity in myself and see what pops up. But if I am serious about the inclusive Church, I have to be serious about the exclusive parts of me.

Well, ok, so the story doesn't exactly go like that, but when I hear this story, I confess I always think of my friend C. When he was "between wives", as they say, he used to be the world's most pathetic bachelor. He once invited me over with what I still think is the most lame but truthful invitation I've ever heard.... to "come fix me some supper and let me keep the leftovers...I'm lonesome AND hungry..." (GEE! What a deal!) I remember opening his fridge and seeing a half empty carton of leftover Chinese food, a stick of butter, a bottle of hot sauce, and a can of beer. I remember thinking, "And what the hell was I supposed to fix this supper WITH??????"

Well, and the inside of C.'s fridge is what always comes to mind when I hear the story of feeding the multitude. I think the disciples, when Jesus asked for their food, all looked at each other with what I can only describe as the "WTF?" look..."He wants us to feed all of THEM...with THIS????"

Well, and in my mind, the miracle of this story was not "magic." I don't believe Jesus did a special magic trick to make this happen. Personally, I believe the crowed ponied up in a way not totally understood.

Ok, imagine the first row at this so-called "feed". They are looking at the five loaves and two fishes and thinking, "Is that Jesus dude crazy? He can't possibly feed all these people with THAT..." So when the food comes by, a couple guys in the front row whisper to each other...

"Psst...hey, you got a stash of food?"

"Yeah, I got a dried fish and a heel of bread."

"Throw it in. I have some dry beef. I'll put that in."

Then someone in the row behind them sees the goings on...

"Hey, Moishe, that asshole Yitzak up there just gave a dried fish! I'm better than that joker, I'll put all THREE of my loaves in, just because I won't be shown up by that mumzer!"

Well, and you get the drift. For whatever reason, good or bad, suddenly the pokes and stashes of this hungry crowd began to open, and by the time it's all over, there's food to spare.

I am sure some people will argue with my version of this miracle, and might even consider it blasphemous, but I really don't care. I think my version is every bit as miraculous, because it illustrates just how powerful the miracles you and I can produce by giving of ourselves are. Jesus doing a magic trick with bread and fishes doesn't teach me that.

The key part of this story is this: The disciples gave all they had, and trusted Christ, even when there was no reason to trust him, and no evidence that what they were giving wasn't the most foolish thing they ever did, and they reaped a bounty because of it. Can I be brave enough to give all I have to Christ and trust against the odds? Can I avoid the trap of thinking my meager collection of loaves and fishes are "not enough"? Can I live outside the realm of what I absolutely know to be true? Can I be prepared to accept the bounty of this way of life with gratitude, or will I need to figuratively "throw a rock" at it? Good questions for all of us!

Ok, sorry about the "non-inclusive language" but I didn't write the quiz, ok?

Turns out, after taking the Quiz, I am....

You’re St. Jerome!

You’re a passionate Christian, fiercely devoted to Jesus Christ and his Church. You are willing to labor long hours in the Lord’s vineyard, and you have little patience with those who are less willing or able to work as you do. Your passions often carry you into temptation zones of wrath, lust, and pride.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Many thanks to Robert of Musings of an Episcopal Padre for this link...

Looks like MadPriest is back up and running. Turns out that Blogger had some issues for several blogs over the last few days, not his. Well, I'm glad he's back in the blogosphere, for one!

Over on Wounded Bird, Mimi posts the following:

OCICBW... got attacked by a particularly vicious troll last night. It was so bad I had to close down the comments overnight.

He seems to have got his revenge by reporting me as a spam blog to Blogger and they have blocked my blog. I have asked for reinstatement but it's taking up to a week to sort out at the moment.

Would you please notify people of this on your blog and tell them to put it on their blogs. I don't want them thinking I've done a runner or been disappeared by the Church Police.


I have no idea how to contact Blogger to request they flog the Troll, not Jonathan. The help page...well...isn't. But I'm willing to hear suggestions....



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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