Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Fitchburg, MA

The Church of the Good Shepherd in (West) Fitchburg, MA will hold its final service on Sunday May 30th 2010. After that its’ folks will be folded into Christ Church on Main St. in Fitchburg.

There is a sad inevitability about this. Many changes in demographics and in life styles have led to the decline of what had once been a lively blue-collar/working class congregation.

I salute and affirm the decision of the leadership at CGS to fold their tent in West Fitchburg, and move a few miles to be part of a larger congregation. Earlier today I had a lovely ‘phone conversation with the Priest at CGS – the Revd. Karen Campbell. I told her that I rejoiced in her leadership, and that I was grateful for the faith and courage which has led to this new chapter in the life of a small congregation.

I was Deacon-in-Charge, then Priest-in-Charge, and then Rector at CGS between 1976 and 1980.

Here are my memories of three liturgies there.

11th July 1976

This was my first Sunday as CGS as a newly minted Deacon. (I had been made Deacon in Bristol Cathedral, England on 27th June in that year). On that first Sunday at CGS I made some kind of mistake in the Liturgy. I grinned, and said to the congregation “well, I have goofed up on my first Sunday here”.

They laughed out loud, and from that very moment we knew that “all would be well”.

17th December 1976

On that day I was ordained as Priest (by Bishop Alexander D. Stewart) at CGS, using the English 1662 rite. A friend, the Revd. Paul W. Goranson, was the preacher.

Many of the good people at CGS had (secretly) contributed to a fund so that my mother, Evelyn Povey could be present. It was joy upon joy to have her there.

When we got back to my apartment Mum said “I wish that your Dad could have been there”. (Dad died in 1974). I replied with genuine conviction - “his spirit was here”.

Mum made 7 subsequent visits to see me in the USA.

April 6th 1980 (Easter Day)

This was my last day as Rector at CGS.

Bishop Alexander D. Stewart had invited me to be one of his Diocesan staff members with responsibility for evangelism, and to be Priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s in Chicopee, MA 

. He had made me an offer which I could not refuse!

I went “over the top” as I planned this final Eucharist, including asking a friend, Sarah Moran Smith, to sing Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate (which she did!).

There was the inevitable and welcome “reception” after that Eucharist. One by one the parishioners left, until there were just about ten of us in the parish hall. Then I “lost it”. I began to sob my heart out. I cried and cried at the thought of leaving these good people. (It was so stupid of me to choose Easter Day as my final CGS Sunday!)

These are holy memories and through them I express my gratitude, and my high hopes for the live of CGS folks as they continue their journeys at Christ Church.

Friday, 28 May 2010


A neighbour named Betty ( not the  next door neighbour who curses me out with regular abandon), brought me four Camellia blossoms (from her shrub), to mark my birthday.


I am saving them in a shallow dish and will use them as a table centre piece on 29th May when three of my pals will come to my home for lunch.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Call in what you will

Call it intuition, psychic connection, sixth sense, coincidence, the Holy Spirit - or none of these.

Nonetheless as I walked with my dog Penne yesterday morning (May 26th) for reasons I do not understand  I began to think about Michael C.

Michael is a cool young man who grew up at St. Stephen’s Parish, Pittsfield, MA. His path has not always been easy, but he has used life’s vicissitudes to his advantage – thus becoming a thoughtful husband and father.

Yesterday, as I walked, I remembered, (who knows why?) that Michael is a either an Army Reservist, or a member of the National Guard. I wondered if he could be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Later in the day Michael C. asked if I would accept him as a “Skype” telephone connection. I agreed with alacrity, and asked (who knows why?) if he was about to be deployed.

He got back to me within minutes. 
Here is his news. 

On June 1st he will enter a month of training. By early July he will be shipped to Afghanistan for a one year deployment. He will leave a wife and three children in the United States.

So now this military engagement in Afghanistan is for me not so much about politics, but much more about a fine young man who I admire so much, and who will be exposed to “God knows what” danger as he does his duty.

Call it intuition, psychic connection, sixth sense, coincidence, the Holy Spirit - or none of these.

Call it what you will. I want Michael to get back home sometime in 2011, sound in body, mind and spirit.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Route 66

Every year I try to celebrate my birthday with great gusto.  I did so again this year.

I am very grateful for all your greetings via Facebook, e-cards, e-mails, ‘phone calls, and old fashioned birthday cards.  I am so grateful for so very many greetings.
When you are 16 years old it is hard to imagine being 66 years old.
When you get to be 66 years old you are filled with gratitude for all the intervening years, and would never wish to turn the clock back.
I started my day with the prayer service which I facilitate at Resurrection House – Sarasota’s day shelter for homeless people.   I told the nine folks at the service that it was my birthday, and that our theme was “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed”.
Experience has shown me that the most destitute are often the most grateful.  So that theme was fruitful as we prayed together.
A retired Priest, the Revd. Jack Chrisman and his wife Donna treated me to lunch at Captains Brian’s, a local seafood restaurant.  I chose and enjoyed some good fried haddock and chips.  Jack and Donna are good folks and I am glad that my move to Sarasota enabled us to meet.
My very good friend Ben treated me and our mutual pal Bob (another retired Priest) to a fabulous dinner at “Mozaic” -  a pretty fancy Moroccan inspired restaurant:
The menu descriptions are a bit overblown, but my salad: “Tender herbs and green melange... etc.”; and entree: “Roasted butternut squash ravioli...etc” were utterly delicious.
Both of today’s meals were rare treats which took me away from my rather strict diet.  And why not!  I’ll never again have a 66th birthday.
The photo’s below show Donna, Michael and Jack; Ben and Michael; and Bob (who hates to have his photo’ taken).
“The Lord has done great things for me, and I am glad indeed”.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I’ve lived in Florida for almost 4 years. I still find it hard to believe that I moved here, for at heart I am an indoors person. Yet I am now living in an outdoors place, with an (almost) year round outdoor climate.

My fine dog Penne takes me out of doors at least five times a day. She loves to walk so I follow her lead, and walk with her, even if the temperature is 94F.'

As we walk I sweat a lot, but these daily walks totalling 5-6 miles, have helped me to lose more that 40 lbs in weight since January 2010.

I walk in a pleasant area. It is not one of those awful “gated communities”, but it is an area with little traffic, two ponds, and many good shade trees.

As I  adjusted to this more “out-of-doors” life, I did two things

1. I bought a gas grill on which to cook the manifest vegetables which nurture my body.
2. I “skinny-dipped” in the very private swimming pool at the home of my friend Ben.

You are welcome to eat from my grill.

You may not watch when  I “skinny-dip”

Jackie W from Fitchburg sent me this via Facebook.

“I wish I was a glow worm,
A glow worm's never glum.
'Cos how can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum!”

~Author Unknown

Makes sense to me!

Monday, 24 May 2010


Last Saturday my blog began with these words: “I have ten nephews. They are all good guys.” 

My dear friend Paula J. in Cincinnati OH suggested that these could be the opening words of a novel.

Another friend, Sally C. in North Redington Beach, FL ventured that the words were suggestive of a limerick.

So I tried this:  (n.b.  the last word is pronounced reh-fuse not ree-fuse.)

"There once was a priest with ten nephews

Who oft thought that he was a fine muse.

When he scribbled a ditty

Those lads voiced no pity

But said: “trash, and rubbish, and refuse”

Dear Jane D in Greenfield, MA was much more creative.  Here is what she penned:

"Father Michael was Uncle to ten,
All hearty and healthy young men.
He loved them to pieces,
But what about nieces?
All roosters, and never a hen?"

Jane is the winner!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sermon for 23rd May 2010 The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL

Sermon for 23rd May 2010 The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL

Acts 2: 1-21; Romans 8: 14-17; John 14: 8-17

Do you remember what happened on January 10th this year? You’ll probably say yes if that day was your birthday or your anniversary, or if on that day you fell in love.

I suppose that I am the only person who remembers that I preached here that morning! 

The sermon was all about the Holy Spirit – giving the big picture of the Spirit: the Spirit as wind which blows down old barriers; and as fire which burns up old prejudices. 

You will of course also remember that when Wes Wasdyke preached here just a few weeks ago, he too spoke of the Spirit, and he directed us to “hold on to our hats, for the Spirit is blowing.

Once again today we encounter that windy and fiery Spirit, the Spirit who drives the disciples out of the house and into the street. 

That is the big picture Spirit, the One who energises us to join in with God’s mission of the reconciliation and healing of “the earth, and all that is therein”. 

There is also a smaller picture, a more intimate experience of the Spirit of which I will speak in a moment.

I will refer to the Spirit as she. The Hebrew word which we translate as Spirit is “Ruach”. In Hebrew that is a feminine gender noun. Many of us use that fact to give ourselves permission to call the Spirit “she”. It’s a very slender reed on which to hold, but it is the read which we have. The point of course is that God is neither male, nor female but if we only always refer to God as “he” we shall begin to believe that God is male. That is not good! 

On the Day of Pentecost she comes:

Like the murmur of the dove's song,
like the challenge of her flight,
like the vigor of the wind's rush,
like the new flame's eager might:
come, Holy Spirit, come.

She who comes to us, as she did to the disciples, is no respecter of persons.   

She pays no deference to the rich and famous .   

She is not interested in hierarchy. 

She is poured out on all flesh. 

Neither sex nor age will be impediments to her. Sons and daughters will prophesy. The old will dream dreams, the young will see visions. Old and young. Sons and daughters. Little children and great-grandparents. Young men and women bound for College. 

The Spirit is here for each and all of us. Pray with me “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

This gracious Spirit creates a new family, a new community. 

Our scripture says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For (we) did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but we have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. (Romans 8:14-16)
In this new community there is tenderness and intimacy between we the children of God, and the God and Father of us all. 

We are no longer in the world of “Father knows best”, but in the world of “Daddy loves the dearest”

“Abba” is that tender word which means pretty much the same as “Dada” or “Daddy”.

If for reasons from our own history and experience we cannot conceive of a father whose love is tender, then we might also say “Amma” or “Mommy”. 

The word we use is not important. 

What is important is the relationship into which we are brought. The Spirit of God within us is calling us to experience God’s love in the tenderest and most intimate way possible. Pray with me to be embraced by that tender love, a love as gentle as the love of Mommy or Daddy for a new born child.

Pray with me “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

There is a “place within us” where conscience, intuition, hope, fear and passion intersect. Perhaps it is the sub-conscious, perhaps it is the unconscious. 

It can be the place of our greatest hope. It can be the place of our deepest dread. 

We are sometimes reluctant to enter into that sphere. 

There are windows into that place

The windows might be found in our dreams as we sleep, or in a pressing crisis, or in good therapy, or in meditation. 

As we gaze through the window,  it is to find that the Spirit is already there. 

She is encountered at the very place where conscience, intuition, hope, fear and passion intersect. 

She is there to call out the prayer which we do not know how to utter.

In his letter to the Romans St. Paul describes it this way: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought. But that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words”. (Rom 8:26) The Spirit gives prayerful expression to our sub-conscious and unconscious being. 
Invite the Spirit into that place.  

Please pray “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

From the Gospel according to John: “On the last day of a festival,.....Jesus...cried out ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come me, and let the one who believes in me drink.....Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’. Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive” (John 7:37-39) 

God, the Holy Spirit comes to the dried up, barren, fruitless wildernesses in our lives. She comes as a bright bubbling spring, refreshing and renewing us. 

This being so, we the believers can never give in to despair. 

Nor can we the believers ever accept that all is futile. 

We, the believers are those who are being refreshed by the Spirit in order that we might be the sources of refreshment in a dry and weary land. Pray now with me for the renewing and refreshing “bubbling up” of the Spirit within. “Come, Holy Spirit, come”.

There is a corny old story about the Southern Baptist Minister who asked an Episcopal Priest “Do you believe in infant baptism?

“Believe in it” she said, “bless your heart I have seen it!” 

Do we believe in God the Holy Spirit? “Believe in her” we say, and then "Bless our hearts, we have experienced her!"

Like the murmur of the dove's song,
like the challenge of her flight,
like the vigor of the wind's rush,
like the new flame's eager might:
come, Holy Spirit, come.