06 June 2009

To everything there is a season....

Today is a day of ending for me. In an hour friends will arrive and will pack the furniture and I shall depart the only home I've ever known. I'm moving up the road about seven miles.

This house has been in my family since it was built in 1889. But nothing is forever as the scriptures tell us.

About 2 p.m. yesterday a friend came over and that got me started with the serious packing. I had been procrastinating deciding which books to keep and what to send to the library.

What I discovered is that it’s hard to donate to the library! Three libraries told me the same thing – bring the books, they will go though them and then I am to take away the books we do not want.

The end of this story is that, thanks to Thelma, I am now about 2,500 books less.

It’s a funny thing – leaving my home of 51-years is easier on me than parting with the books.

For the first time since I knew the house was “gone,” I cried. Not because the house is lost, but because i had to get rid of books. Books are my family!

A significant portion of the books were given to me by people long dead who asked me to take care of their cherished books for them. A ton of old Swedish and German books.

Thelma came up with a great plan. I put books into to piles 1) I absolutely had to keep and 2) I didn’t absolutely have to keep, but didn’t want to get rid of.

We went through the second pile and she told me to just say, “Take care of this for me, Thelma” and she would do the “right thing.” So, what I can say this morning is that I didn’t throw away a single book.

When all was said and done and all the boxes packed, I had a second revelation. Except for the furniture, my entire life fit into the back of one pickup and the trunk of my wee car! I thought I’d have to make at least three trips, but we got everything into one pickup bed. I decided that when all is settled in the new place, I need to go though the boxes again and dispose of more “stuff.”

The furniture will be translated to the new place this morning about 9 a.m. My niece will come by about 10 a.m. and We will go though some things that I think she will want.

I’m getting rid of three of my four complete sets of pots and pans, two of the five sets of dishes, and all except two of my antique cookie jars. Also, I’m going to divide the Christmas things with her. She’s the only family member who will take care of the Christmas stuff—none of which is crap, as Fr. Jake can tell you, I went in for Christmas in a major way and I didn’t buy cheap things.

After that there remains only mopping, dusting, and vacuuming. I have the original front door key tacked to the front door for the new people. I have a bottle of champagne for them and I’ve left one of my ten mechanical chiming antique clocks on the wall for them.

So that’s the report for Saturday morning. I’ll let you know how the rest of the move goes. I may not have Internet service until Monday in the new place. Gosh, how will I survive Sunday!

I'll have the rector around sometime next week to bless the new place and then I'll be "home."

So, for the last time, Cheers from my ancestral home. Don't let the church do anything at all until I'm back online!

03 June 2009

News from Colorado

The Gazette is reporting that there is a settlement in the Grace and St. Stephen's litigation in Colorado Springs.

According to reports, the schismatics have dropped their right to appeal thereby letting the trial courts' order become final.

As part of this "agreement," TEC will drop its claim for damages against the dissidents. Each side will pay its own attorneys' fees and costs.

According to diocesean chancellor L. R. Hitt II,
This has been a long, difficult and distressing dispute and we believe that this settlement is the first step towards reconciliation and healing.
The article states,

The former Episcopal Church members left because they thought the national church was taking a liberal theological direction. They were also upset over the diocese's investigation of the parish's rector, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, who is suspected of taking thousands of dollars from his church and a trust fund to pay for his children's college education from 1999 to 2006.

A grand jury indicted him last month on 20 counts of theft and he is free on $20,000 bail.

It should be noted that the criminal charges against Mr. Armstrong are not part of this agreement. Also, it should be noted that nothing in the articles address any possibly civil liability by Mr. Armstrong to the diocese or Grace and St. Stephen's.

31 May 2009

Prayers requested for Coach Sachs

I bid your prayers for Ralph Sachs who is entering the last stages of his life. Mr. Sachs, "Coach Sachs" to tens of thousands of high school students has terminal cancer. He has known about it for the past eighteen months but decided to keep it quite so that it would not diminish his wife's joy in being Pioneer Day Queen (a huge deal in our local area).

Mr Sachs taught mathematics for fifty-one years and retired only when his wife had a heart attack several weeks ago. He is the man who convinced me that I was not a total idiot about math. I was 45-years old when he opened the world of math to me.

More than that, Mr. Sachs has been a friend to me my entire life. His oldest son was in my brother's school class and his youngest son was in my class. I have a very deep attachment to Mr. Sachs.

Therefore, I ask your prayers that his ending will be peaceful and pain free and that his wife, Elenore, will find the strength and comfort she needs in the days and weeks ahead.

Spiritus Domini - The Day of Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost
Spiritus Domini

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
    Introit: The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world, alleluia; and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. -- (Ps. 67. 1). Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered: and let them that hate Him flee from before His face.

Have you ever bought something that needed to be assembled? After struggling to get the huge package into the house, and further struggling to open the wretched thing, the instructions are tucked right at the bottom.

The instruction booklet is in a number of languages, the English translation -- for that is obviously what it is -- tucked amidst other languages and alphabets.

There’s a list of all sorts of nuts and bolts, a few odd-looking tools, which look much too fragile for the job, and then the assembling parts, heavy and awkward to manipulate. One feels lost, confused, and even helpless. “If only Josh (or whoever) were here,” we think. He knows how to do this sort of stuff. It’s even worse when he ordered this thing and then left us to it, assuring us that we would have the skill to get the task finished.

I often think that the disciples in that Upper Room, after the Ascension and before Pentecost, held a long, long vestry meeting. The task had been assigned. They were to go into the whole world telling about the Good News of the Resurrection, baptizing those who believed. They were to be “witnesses.” That word, from which we get “martyr,” means life-givers. That’s a risky and dangerous business.

They were to be a new race, or tribe, or nation. Anyone who believed could join. It didn’t matter what gender one was, or one’s race, language, nationality, customs, or religion: all were welcome.

So what did they do? They held an election. It made them look on task. It made them look busy. It’s a pity we don’t know what they talked about. The treasurer had committed suicide and the books were in a mess. Someone must have said that there was no way they could afford to go into the entire world. Someone else may have suggested that it was dangerous to go outside the Upper Room. After all, they were the chosen. Who would do the work if they were killed or thrown in prison?

Someone else must have said that they were no good at evangelism, and after all, everyone has a right to their own religion. Perhaps Jesus had been poetic? Surely he didn’t mean that they were actually to “convert” people?

The Upper Room must have felt so safe, so comfortable. It was in that room that Jesus had given them the Eucharist. At least they could be obedient in doing that. Maybe others would come from outside and join them?

And then something extraordinary happened. They were all attacked by what seemed to be wind and fire, the ancient symbols of God’s presence. That energy, that being set on fire with confidence, thrust them out into the street, where they were soon accused of being drunk at ten o’clock in the morning.

As we read in the Gospel this morning, all this had been promised. Now all those fears and doubts, all those reasonable objections to Jesus’ command evaporated. The Church was on the move. The Church was intended to be on the move. It was not intended for Upper Rooms. It was intended for the street, for people, and places everywhere.

The Holy Spirit wasn’t given so individuals could have a form of “spirituality” just for them. The Spirit wasn’t given to an elite group so that they could practice a religion close to their political opinions, left, right, or center. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church to enable it to be the Church. In its power, the Church is enabled to put things together and to be together.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t guarantee that the decisions we make together are wise or good. The Holy Spirit guarantees that the Church and the Church’s mission will go on and on until kingdom come. It is the truth of kingdom which is, and is to come, into which the Spirit leads us. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus and brings us to the Father. The Holy Spirit moves in the water; in bread, and wine, and oil; and in our prayers, private and collective. Above all, the Holy Spirit drives us out of the safety and security of our local Upper Rooms, our parishes. The Holy Spirit pushes us beyond ourselves, our abilities, expectations, and safety levels.

Today we pray, “Come Holy Spirit.” Watch out! Your prayer may be answered.

The Rev. Anthony F.M. Clavier is rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, La Porte, Indiana.