Friday, 8 August 2008

Grunting

My condo unit is part of a triplex of single story homes. I have an end unit which means that I have more windows than those who live in middle units. But I have a neighbour who comes from a suburb of hell.

She is either crazy, or an out of control alcoholic, or just plain mean. Perhaps all three.

I have tried being nice to her, but this has not worked. She curses me out like a drunken Bishop when I have done something, or not done something – and displeased her. So I ignore her.

We share a driveway, and there is no dividing wall between her car port and mine.



Her car port is like a front garden in Knowle West (local reference for my brother Martyn in England), or like the surroundings in the worst kind of trailer park (American readers will get this reference).



Despite all the efforts of the Condominium Association, she refuses to “abide by the rules” and clean up her car port.


She recently received a letter from the Condominium Association Board asking her to get rid of the junk in her car port.


She immediately went to talk to our paid Office Manager, and screamed that “she would not be told what to do by the f—king faggots who ought to live in Glen Oaks Manor (our very gay friendly neighbouring community). Just one of our Board Members is gay.


One day last week as I returned home she was sitting in her car port a la Madame Defarge. She greeted me, but I was in no mood for conversation, so I simply grunted out loud.

“Oh” she said, “I get it”. I replied “yes I am one of those awful homosexuals who should be living in Glen Oaks Manor”.

Her retort made me splutter with laughter. “I didn’t”, she said, “say that they were awful”.

So now I know that I am a non-awful homosexual, but that I should still live in Glen Oaks Manor!

I pose you four questions.

1. Am I awful?
2. Am I a homosexual?
3. Should I be living in Glen Oaks Manor?
4. Is murder ever justifiable?


Please mail me your responses on the back of a $100 bill!

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I am off to Fort Myers again tomorrow, so I'll not blog again until Sunday.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

So tired

I've not had a busy day. I led the Prayer Service at Res. House, and I wrote a sermon for next Sunday.

But I feel so very tired.

So please imagine my snores, and I'll write again tomorrow!

Pove

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Sound of Silence

I was in our local “Target” store on Monday (“Target” is a very upscale version of Wal Mart ) when I realised how pleasant it felt.

I soon realised that this was because there was no music being blared from overhead loudspeakers. It was lovely to be free of noise pollution.

We live in a very noisy world. Folks seem to be afraid of silence or quietness.

It was with this in mind that the SRQ City Council tried to pass a local ordinance against loud music from automobiles. There were two problems with the proposed ordinance.

First, it was perceived to be directed at a particular segment of the SRQ population, i.e. Blacks and Hispanics.

Second, it had a semi-subjective provision in that a Police Officer could make an arrest based on his/her assessment that this noise could be heard from 100 yards away.

(Of course the ordinance did not deal with the noise pollution coming from Police car sirens!)

But, in my opinion, there is too much noise.

It’s impossible to be in a drug store or supermarket without being forced to listen to loud recorded music.

It’s likely that music and advertisements will blare from the pump when you next fill up with gas/petrol.

We have “rip-off” rent-to-own furniture, electronics and appliance businesses in these United States which scream their advertisements from outside loudspeakers 24 hours a day.

I hate all this noise! I also find human noise to be hard to bear. For example, this morning at Res. House a summer volunteer worked alongside my buddy Mike Blake in the Laundry. I was at the front desk registering guests for their showers and laundry service.

Mike and the summer volunteer kept up a friendly chat as they loaded and unloaded the washing machines and dryers.

But the summer volunteer had such a loud voice. It was so loud that I could not hear myself think.

Now, I have a very loud and strong voice. I am so aware of this that often I purposefully choose to use my “quiet voice”.

But our summer volunteer did not have any volume control on his/her voice. I wanted to scream “Please use your quiet voice”.

When I preside at the Eucharist I keep a few periods of silence. This sometimes causes the worshippers to become quite anxious. But after they have become used to the sound of silence they become quite grateful. Shared silence is an incredible gift.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Pip, Squeak and what???!!!!

Memory is very strange. I woke up this morning with the words “Pip, Squeak and ???” in my mind

Within a few minutes I recalled the missing ??? It is Wilfred.

I’d been remembering the words “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”. But I had no context for these words.


“Google” came to my rescue. “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred was a strip cartoon in the London Daily Mirror, through 1956. (I was 12 years old in 1956).

The Daily Mirror was a quality tabloid newspaper, always devoted editorially to the British Labour Party, and to working people.

Its motto was “Forward with the People”.

One of its great columnists was Richard Crossman M.P., who wrote a column under the title heading of “Cassandra”.

My parents were Labour, so the Mirror was the morning newspaper of their choice. I was a precocious reader, and would scan the Mirror each day even when I was 7 years old.

(I’d also read the local evening paper the “Bristol Evening Post” with its masthead statement: “The paper all Bristol asked for and helped to create”)

But why in the heck would I wake up this morning thinking about “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”? I must have read that cartoon strip when I was a slip of a lad. Why did it come to mind this morning?!!

“Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred” also became monikers for World War I medals in Great Britain.

You may read some scanty information about the cartoon strip and the medals in the following links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pip,_Squeak_and_Wilfred




http://www.fylde.demon.co.uk/pip.htm

Monday, 4 August 2008

Joy at St. Hilary's in Fort Myers

So I travelled down to Ft. Myers (85 miles south of SRQ) last Saturday to preside at their three Eucharists at St. Hilary’s Church in the absence of the Rector, Bob Hennigan, who is on vacation.

The Parish had kindly offered to pay for my mileage and for an Hotel room, as well as the usual Honorarium. (St. Hilary’s has a Saturday Eucharist, as well as two on Sunday mornings, so an Hotel room was essential).

I have a bit of a history with St. Hilary’s. Pittsfield Parishioners Art and Liz Harrington, together with Charles and Naoma Sammons used to winter in Ft. Myers, and they would worship at St. Hilary’s whilst they were there.

And Gwen Sears’ son Charlie and daughter in law Lori (now divorced) were members at St. Hilary’s, so Gwen knew the parish very well.

And thanks to Lori Sears (now Lori Uhrig) I was a candidate for the Rectorship at St. Hilary’s some eleven years ago.

I took my name out of their search as I perceived the Parish to be much more conservative than I.

There were two “token liberals” on the Search Committee. One, a woman, did a moonlight flit with the male youth Minister soon after St. Hilary’s called Bob Hennigan to be Rector.

The other was Tom Mahlstedt “the only Gay in the Village, i.e. Parish”.

He and I stayed in touch over the years and soon after I moved to SRQ in 2006 I drove down to Ft. Myers one Sunday, attended St. Hilary’s, and had lunch with Tom.
He introduced me to Bob Hennigan.

So Bob, with a most generous heart, invited me to “supply” on a Sunday in 2007.

Tom Mahlstedt has since died. But Bob Hennigan invited me to supply for these three August 2008 weekends.

The Saturday Eucharist was fun, with contemporary music.

My name was not in the bulletin, and I introduced myself as Michael. Following the service a couple asked me “where are you from?” I said “Massachusetts and England”. They asked “are you Michael Povey?” I confessed that truth, and they introduced themselves as Roland and Nancy Poissant, former members of Grace Church, Oxford MA, where my good friend Paul Goranson was Rector.

I was amazed that they remembered me, some 25 years after I’d last seen them.

After the Saturday service I retired to my Hotel room, ate some fast food from a Supermarket, and had a good night’s sleep.

On Sunday morning as I showered I had these thoughts. “It is so good to be alive, and I am so happy that I can exercise my priestly ministry”. Wow! These were great thoughts!


So I was primed for the 8:00 a.m. Eucharist, after which a couple, Tom Vitek and Linda Dugan invited me to stay in their vacant condo on Cape Coral for the next two weekends. This will be much more comfortable than an Hotel, and will save St. Hilary’s about $160.

And at the 10:00 Eucharist I spotted my good friends and former Pittsfield Parishioners Joe and Glenna Vittone, with their grandson Dean. I’ll have lunch with them after service next Sunday.

The six degrees of separation were again at work!

I had a lovely time at St. Hilary’s. I know this will be the case on the next two weekends.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sermon for August 2/3 2008

Sermon for August 2nd/3rd, 2008
The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Hilary’s Church, Fort Myers, FL
Matthew 14:13-21


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13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."

16Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

17"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.

18"Bring them here to me," he said. 19And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.



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“Now when Jesus heard what had happened”. What had he heard? He’d heard of the political execution of his cousin John the Baptist. He’d also heard that King Herod was showing an increasing interest in him.

So he withdrew to a quiet place by himself. To mourn for John the Baptist? Perhaps. To ask himself “do I really want to go through with this, my mission? Maybe.

But he needed to be alone. Those of you who are parents, and more especially mothers, and those of you who are schoolteachers or social workers will know the feeling. As a mother might think, but never say “sometimes I simply want to get away from my children and be alone”.

But as children find it hard to give their parents some “peace and quiet”, so do the crowds. They sniff out Jesus’ location, knowing that their very presence will evince his compassion. Which of course it does. He heals their sick. The disciples, ever practical, and perhaps jealous of all the attention Jesus is giving the crowds, want to send the crowds back to their homes.

Jesus, as he might say to us when we are faced with some dreadful human issue – war, disease, hunger, homelessness - says to the disciples “you do something about it”. Rolling their eyes in sceptical amusement the disciples reply: “all we have is five loaves and two fish”. “Bring them here to me” says Jesus. And with prayer and blessing Jesus is able to feed the multitude, with more than enough left over for the birds.



“Little is much when God is in it” as some later preacher said.


When we dig a little deeper into the story, we find four important verbs. Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it”. He took, he blessed, be broke, he gave.

Where else in the Gospels do we find those four verbs, one after another? It is of course in the Upper Room in what we call the Last Supper. There the fourfold action is repeated in what we call the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, or the Eucharist.

And so I believe that the miracle is a miracle of grace. It is about feeding the poor. It is about the Eucharist. But it is chiefly about grace.

About this grace in the feeding of the multitude, and in the Eucharist we must say: There is always more than enough grace for everyone. More than enough.

We, of course, are the ones who wish to hoard grace, and dole it out, spoonful by spoonful to those whom we believe are worthy. Somehow we have allowed ourselves to live in a theology of shortage and not a theology of abundance. So we, and by this “we” I mean especially Church leaders, who operate as though there were a limited store of grace, of which they are the guardians. We have confused grace with the dole.

Church leaders like it that way, for if they are the keepers of the treasury of grace, they consequently have great power and authority. I believe that the greatest “problem” which the Church faces is not the place of women in the ordained ministry, nor is it the question of how and why we welcome gay and lesbian people.

It is the abuse of priestly and episcopal authority. The terrible flaw in the just ended Lambeth Conference of Bishop is just that – they are all Bishops, and they take themselves too seriously.


For in the end, all God’s people have but one authority, and that is the authority to serve! The disciples were told to distribute the bread, they were told to serve.

In the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus stepped in to the task of which the preacher of Isaiah had spoken. “Ho everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price”. Bread, fish, wine and water – these are all symbols of boundless grace. Christians are not purveyors of bottled water. They are those who point the way to the fresh and abundant springs.

Grace is abundant. There is more than enough. So I end by singing a hymn written by a friend of mine the Revd. J. Mary Luti. You have the words before you, so join in as you become familiar with the tune

If there were a fountain (J. Mary Luti)

If there were a fountain of blue water bright from a cleft in a rock underground;
if streams from the fountain poured sapphire delight on the waterless earth all around;
if pools of refreshment could slake all your thirst, and a hope hold you up when you sink;
if there were no fear of the deep and the worst, would you come, would you bathe, would you drink?

If there were a table in beauty arrayed in a house full of song old and new;
if ev’ry good pleasure were lavishly laid for delight, for contentment, for you;
if places were set for the least and the small, and the feasting were ample and fine;
and, oh, if the feasting cost nothing at all would you come, would you sit, would you dine?




If there were a God who is welcoming fire and impatiently eager to save;
if there were a God who awakens desire and bestows all the love you can crave;
if God were a gathering God, and a balm for the homeless who aimlessly roam;
if God were a house, in the center a calm, would you come, would you finally come home?




More tomorrow about my visit to Fort Myers.