Saturday, 10 July 2010

Not much to say.

I have a lot to say about ...

the Gulf of Mexico Oil Volcano;

the lies of Fox news;

the failure to close Guantanamo;

the endless and futile wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;

the stupidity of the Church of England;

the anachronism known as the Roman Catholic Church;

the arrogance of the American Episcopal Church;

the disrespect and hateful treatment of females in the Catholic Church,in  the Evangelical movement,in the ranks  of the United States military, and in the religion of Islam. Why does power always diminish woman?

I have so much to say about these matters that I will say nothing.  "Mums the word from me."

Thursday, 8 July 2010

My first visit to mainland Europe (2)

Not that I am sentimental (!) but I have two items which I purchased in Oberstdorf some 40 years ago. They are a cross with the “Chi-Rho” symbol; and an ash tray which has within it an “edelweiss”.

From our base in Oberstdorf we took two trips. The first was across the Bodensee (Lake Constance) into Switzerland and Austria.

The second took us to Oberammergau and to (mad) King Ludwig of Bavaria’s fairytale castle at Linderhof.

40 years on ..... I am grateful for these memories. I will always have a soft spot for Oberstdorf.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

My first visit to mainland Europe

On Tuesday 6th July 2010 I had lunch with my Rector (Ted Copland).  He and his wife Judy Copland had just returned from their holiday in Leipzig. There they had enjoyed good times with their son and his (German) wife, together with their grandchildren.

This reminded me of my very first holiday outside of England. It was in 1970 or 1971.  I had left the Plymouth Brethren to worship with the people of God at Christ Church Clifton (Bristol) - a congregation of the Church of England.

At Christ Church I soon became a leader in a group for older teenagers known as CYFA – the Church Youth Fellowship Association.  The national CYFA group planned a trip to Germany, and I signed on.

We gathered in London and travelled by train and ferry to Belgium.  From there we took a train through Cologne and up the Rhine Valley.  I was entranced.

Leaving the Rhine Valley we took other trains, through Ulm, and to our destination in the Bavarian Alps, a small town called Oberstdorf.  Now I was not only entranced – I was enchanted.

For, many years before this trip, when I was maybe 10 years old, I had been given a very pious book as a reward for good attendance in the Plymouth Brethren Sunday School.  The book, authored by a Plymouth Brethren woman (Patricia M. St. John), was entitled “Treasures of the Snow”.  It was set in Switzerland and had to do with a fictitious lad named Lucien and his Alpine adventures.

“Treasures of the Snow” gave me a vivid imagination of Alpine scenery.

16 or so years after my reading of the book I was in Oberstdorf, in the German Alps. 

I discovered that everything which I had absorbed as a ten year old kid was real.  My first actual trip to the alps matched all that I had imagined - and more.

Thank you Patricia M. St.John, and thank you CYFA.


N.B.   “St.John” is pronounced as “Sinjin”

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I like

I like Stilton Cheese, and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

Monday, 5 July 2010

When I sit down to read

When I sit down to read, my pets take their place on the sofa. Maybe I should read aloud to them from Dr. Doolittle

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A tale of Three Churches

I preached at 8:00 and 9:30 this morning at St. Margaret of Scotland Church. My sermon is posted below.  It "preached" better than it reads.

I had a splendid Independence Day lunch with St. Boniface Church parishioners Jack and Donna Chrisman, together with Muriel Quinn.   ( Jack is an exquisite cook, and the company was lovely.  Muriel is English and catches my under stated humour very easily!)

This evening saw me at a fine 4th July pot-luck picnic for members of All Angels by the Sea.

Just enough religion, and more than enough good food!


Sermon for 4th July 2010
The Revd. J. Michael Povey at St. Margaret of Scotland Episcopal Church, Sarasota FL
Luke 10:1-20
“The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go”.   Those seventy were to be heralds of the mission of God, assuring people that the “Kingdom of God has come near you”.  God is calling us to be part of that mission. God is calling us to be ministers.
The seventy were to go in pairs.  This speaks of companionship in ministry.  It means that ministers are those who listen, not just those who talk.  It militates against the ministry of dangerous “lone rangers” who are in love with their own egos.
The seventy were to travel light – no purse, no bag, no sandals.  Good ministers are those who are not burdened by their devotion to things, but by their love of people.
They were told to stay in the homes which offered them hospitality, and not to wander from house to house seeking a better deal.  The best ministers are deeply content with who they are and what they have.
The seventy were told that sometimes they would not be well received.  But even then they were to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come near.    Sometimes it is important for ministers to cut their losses and to move on.
The seventy were told that God’s judgment and God’s mercy are not the same human judgment and mercy. The foreign cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom will receive the mercy of God, whilst the local towns of Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum will fall under God’s judgment. Those who share in the mission of God must free themselves of ethic or nationalistic pride.  (True patriotism is rooted in humility and gratitude, not in pride and chest-thumping).
Finally Jesus tells the seventy that there is more to ministry than spectacular success. Ministers do not crow about their triumphs.  But they are deeply and humbly joyful because their names are written in heaven
God is calling us to be a people of mission. It is a mission that should spring forth from our life at St. Margaret’s.
Do you like St. Margaret’s Church?  
Do you want this parish to grow?
Do you like it just as it is?

I am as certain as can be that we all like and care for St. Margaret’s Church.  It has a deep place in our affection. 
I am equally sure that we all want the parish to grow.  We know that the alternative to growth is slow death. We also know that we have a treasure which is worth sharing.
The answer to the third question is tricky.   For if we like St. Margaret’s just as it is, then we are forming a club for the like-minded, instead of being a people who share in God’s mission.  There is a stark choice.  As good as it gets here at St. Margaret’s (and of course in other parishes) we must be eager for things to change if we are working towards a dynamic and growing parish which understand that mission is more important than maintenance.
The mission of God, put simply, is to call all people into repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation. 
If we are to share in that mission then we must repent of our grudging spirit towards others, and of our racial, nationalistic or religious pride which deems “others” as unworthy.  Naaman the Syrian was a an enemy of the people of Israel but Elisha did not treat him as unworthy -  he welcomes him as a sick man who needed healing.
We must also repent of our half hearted commitment to God. God is not a hobby to be enjoyed in our spare time.
If we are to share in God’s mission then we must practise forgiveness over and over again, until it becomes a way of life.  An unforgiving heart damages us deeply, and stunts our spiritual growth.  Old grudges cause calluses in our souls.  And we are to receive forgiveness on a daily basis as a renewing gift from the heart of God.  Offering forgiveness renews not only the person who is being forgiven, but also the one who is doing the forgiving.
If we are to share in God’s mission we are to seek reconciliation at every turn.  We may start by being reconciled to our own past failures.  We can continue by recognising that we have already been reconciled to God in Christ.  We persist by becoming agents of reconciliation where ever we encounter mistrust and hatred.
Repentance.  Forgiveness.  Reconciliation.  These will become the hallmarks of a parish which will grow in spiritual maturity, and will be a haven for all those in our communities who long for such a lifestyle. Just imagine if these words got out:  “St. Margaret’s is a place where you can be sure to encounter repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation”.  “No one holds grudges there”.  “The members are so very comfortable in their own skins; they are at peace with themselves”.  “You can trust people there”. “Those people at St. Margaret’s truly bear each other’s burdens”.
Those would be words about a congregation which is sharing in God’s mission!