Saturday, 12 December 2009

American evangelicals could/should learn from their Irish evangelical friends.

The Irish Evangelical Alliance has issued a statement about the proposal which is before the Irish Government regarding “Civil Unions”

I find this statement on behalf of Irish Evangelicals to be utterly refreshing, especially in the light of the angry voices we hear from American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists.

There are three aspects which I like.

1. Irish Evangelicals are being totally faithful to their own understanding of the Gospel.

2. Their entire tone is irenic and gracious. There is not a single note of anger or judgment.

3. There is a clear recognition by the Irish Christians that they live in a post-Constantinian world.

Here is the link for the Irish Evangelical Alliance

Now click on “Community Alert” (on the right).

I’d love to know what you think.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Things that keep me awake at night

I purchase those easy to use disinfecting wipes.  The ones I use are a store brand, but they are most likely made by Lysol or Clorox.
I am not exactly certain that they are any more efficacious than hot water and a bit of dish detergent, but they are mightily handy.
I think that it’s the name that seduces me into the purchase.  “Disinfecting wipes” has an allure of safety.  After all, according to the label, they kill 99.9% of bacteria in 15 seconds. I try not to worry about the 00.01% of un-killed bacteria! 
And there is also the advertised “lemon scent”.  Who would ever doubt that “lemon scent” makes all the difference!  One of these days I will try to purchase some “lemon scented” lemons.
Today, in a fit of curiosity I read the “fine print” on the label.  It included these words:
“It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling”.
Having read  this I am terrified that the FEDS will soon be after me.   
True enough I have not tried to eat one of the wipes, or to build a tent with them, or to use one to write my shopping list.
But who knows which Federal Law I may have violated as I have used the wipes?
Please: offer some suggestions as to my possible misdemeanors or felonies in the use of them.
Pretty please: do not call the FBI. 

Thursday, 10 December 2009


There was a story today on N.P.R. (National Public Radio) about the possibility that President Obama will next year visit Indonesia, where he lived as a child.

The American Ambassador in Jakarta stated that our President would like to take his wife and children to the town and neighbourhood where he once lived.

The Ambassador said that President Obama would like to visit his “old haunting grounds” in Indonesia.

I have heard of “old hunting grounds”, and of “old haunts”.

I am not sure whether the Ambassador uttered a malapropism, or if he truly thinks that the  phrase is “old haunting grounds”. 

I am sure that I often regress to an  “old haunting ground” in which my memory takes me to the mistakes, sins, failures, and stupid acts of years gone by.

That memory often keep me awake at night. Damn it. I so wish that I could escape the haunting of my memory, despite the facts that ---

I cannot change the past.

My old haunts were mostly superb.

My old hunting grounds were fine.

 It is my “old haunting ground” which bothers  me most.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Too dreadful for words!

After my morning shower this day I grabbed the nearest shorts and shirt to head off to Resurrection House.

My appearance was greeted with amazement by the Res House guests, and with laughter by the staff and volunteers.

Plaid on plaid.

Oh my. I should either be more careful, or hire a dress consultant!

I am not proud of this photo', but I hope that it will make you giggle.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


In my sermon last Sunday I ventured to say that many folks say “I’m fine” when they really want to say “go to hell”.
One worshiper, as he exited, said:  “Thanks for your sermon Michael.  I am fine”
I replied: “go to hell”.
Then we both doubled over in laughter.
Before Church I chatted with an Acolyte.  She is in the fourth grade.  She told me about her weekend homework science project.  It involved checking the enzyme levels from a piece of raw liver when it is bathed in hydrogen peroxide.  For goodness sake - this is amazing. 
When I was in fourth grade I was just learning cursive (“joined-up”) writing, and had received absolutely no education in any of the sciences.
I have re-discovered parsnips. I am on the cusp of being obsessed with them. (I roasted some for dinner tonight -  together with carrots, onions and chicken thighs).
As I was checking out at a Publix Supermarket yesterday, the woman in line behind me saw the parsnips in my shopping basket and asked “are those some kind of carrot?”
I disabused her of that notion, and then I launched into a peroration on the virtues of parsnips, and gave her many suggestions regarding the ways to cook them.
With hindsight I’ll guess that I gave her too much information!  But those who are near and dear to my heart will never, ever “diss” parsnips.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Sermon for 6th December 2009.

 I departed a bit from my prepared  text as I preached it yesterday.  I have included some of my ad-lib remarks, and though those inclusions might not be my exact word - they represent well what I was trying to day.

Sermon for 6th December 2009. The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels by the Sea Church, Longboat Key,FL
Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 3:1-6

“Go to hell!” I’ve often wanted to yell that at some person who has wronged, annoyed or hurt me. In fact, I have yelled it, usually from the safety of my car, when some idiot or other has cut me off, or forced me in to another lane. If the car that has cut me off has one of those “Jesus” symbols, then I want to call out “repent you hypocrite"

“Go to hell” is a fairly safe imprecation, for after all, we no longer believe in hell. Perhaps we believe that there is some dark corner of the universe reserved for serial murderers and rapists, or for monsters such as Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and their many acolytes. 

But on the whole we are optimistic universalists about what happens after death. We believe in a God of love who will welcome everyone into heaven.

Earlier generation of Christians were less starry eyed than we; less sentimental than we. For you see, they saw Advent simply not as the Christian way of getting ready for the birth of the baby Jesus, but as a Christian call to be prepared for what they called the four last things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. 

So it is that advent scriptures call us to a way of life which anticipates both judgement and death. That way of life has to do with repentance. Luke tells us that John the Baptist proclaimed a baptism of repentance. We must be clear that repentance has little to do with remorse or guilt, or feeling sorry. Repentance in John the Baptist’s preaching is a call to a new way of living.

Repentance is all about the way we are walking through life. To live as if repentance did not matter is to be always walking away from God. The unrepentant state is to turn our backs on God. 

But to live in a repentant way is to have a desire and intention to walk towards God

But because of our understandable busyness; or because of our diversions through triviality; or because of the hubris which whispers that “it all depends on us”; or because of our wilful sin we sometimes find ourselves to be walking backwards. 

That is why Christian living is filled with necessary course corrections. These course corrections are rooted in our deep conviction that walking towards God is walking towards life. We call them repentance.

We are not always present to the need for these course corrections because we have convinced ourselves that everything is “fine”. Have you noticed that “I am fine” is now the preferred response when we ask another person “how are you?” That person may well be in the deepest turmoil, confusion or sadness, yet she or he will insist that “I’m fine”.

Truth to tell it is often some catastrophic event, or the threat of such an event, which force us to think about why we are not fine.

Just over a year ago our national economy and the world economic system seemed to be on the brink of collapse. Can you remember how it felt? Most of us were filled with anxiety and with foreboding. That crisis brought death and judgement to many of our lives. 

There was, and still is, the death of many of our cherished dreams and hopes which utterly depended on a buoyant and growing economy. 

Maybe there was also judgement. This judgement was not forced upon us from outside. Rather it was our own self judgment - perhaps better understood as “self critique”. 

That self judgment made us ask “who will I be and how will I act if the whole system goes belly-up?” It also raised the question “were the dreams which died worth having in the first place?”

That 2008 crisis is by no means resolved. It is still with us. Matters could yet get worse. We could have a field day were we to argue about the most desirable political and economic ways forward. I would argue with the best of us!

Yet that debate, however necessary, might deafen us to the call of scripture to repent. And it is never “they” who are called to repentance; it is always “we”.

The gospel last Sunday included these words from Luke chapter 21 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

In the context those words most likely had to do with the “end of the world” which occurred for the residents of Judaea and Jerusalem when the Romans wrought havoc on what had been a rebellious province, and tore Jerusalem to the ground.

Those scriptures have a renewed meaning for us. We too experience fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world. But note what Luke does NOT say. He does not say “run and hide” in cataclysmic days. Instead he says “stand up and raise your heads for your redemption is drawing near”. Scripture is assuring us that when we “stand up and raise our heads” we are defiantly facing the unknown future, knowing that our future will be filled with God.

It’s another way of expressing repentance.

Non-repentance is to run and hide in the face of adversity – and in doing so to run and hide from God. 

Repentance is to stand up, raise our heads, and walk with confidence and hope towards the source of our life, which is God.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A letter from Jesus?

Even though I would not have worded it in exactly this way, the following "letter from Jesus" contains first class sentiments.  jmp

Letter about Christmas -- from Jesus:

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking my name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate y birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime. (Especially in the Eucharist -  jmp addition)

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate my birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. 

Now, having said that let me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all y followers did that, there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town. 

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a "holiday tree," instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1-8. 

If you want to give me a present in remembrance of my birth, here is my gift wish list. Choose something from it: 

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way my birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell me all the time. 

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them. 

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again. 

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of my birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them. 

5 Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her. 

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference. 

7. Instead of nit-picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas," that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day, maybe they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families 

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes my love and Good News to those who have never heard my name. 

9. Here's a good one -- There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in me, and they will make the delivery for you. 

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in--and loyalty to--me, then behave like a Christian! Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in my presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine. 

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of myself. Just love me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love, and remember : 


P.S. (viajmp)  Please do not forget that my word at Christmas is the same as that of my spiritual ancestor Micah.  We both call you to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God"  jc