Saturday, 17 March 2012

Prayers for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. (not my work)

Call to worship for Lent 4b

Here’s the call to worship we’ll be using this week, which draws on Num. 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21. The chorus is from the psalm.

When we are lost in the wilderness,
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
When we complain about our problems,
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
When we ignore abundant provisions,
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
When we sneak around in the dark,
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
When questions loom and faith falters,
God’s steadfast love endures forever.
In this time of worship, God, may we release our failures and rest in your love.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

When the teaching of Jesus is a pain.

Frequent readers of this blog will remember that I’ve had a difficult time with my next door neighbour.

(We share a drive way, and there is no wall between her car port and mine).  She has often been a very angry woman, and has yelled and cursed me out on not a few occasions. (And I have not been the perfect neighbour).

The last time she cursed at me ‘twas because part of a cardboard box in which I had placed some swept up leaves had been blown by the wind, and was resting two inches on her side of the car port.

That’s when I decided that discretion would be the better part of valour, and that silence is golden. We have exchanged never a word, not even a greeting for at least a year.

She spoke to me this afternoon.  A bit of her “stuff” had been blown by yet another wind into my car port (I had not noticed it!).

She said that she was sorry that this had happened. Knowing that “a soft answer turns away wrath” I responded with “please don’t worry, these things happen – after all it’s been quite windy in recent days”.

She said “thank you for speaking to me”“That’s O.K.” I said, “it’s been more than a year”.

The upshot was that she went on to say that it would be good if we spoke to each other, and I agreed. 

We were as near to cordial as is possible: given our troubled history.

Here’s the rub.  I have, against my sinful will, being praying for her in recent weeks, having been “convicted” by the scripture “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28).

Oh shoot!  The teaching of Jesus in the gospels goes against my grain!  That’s why I have to submit my sinful will to the will of God.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Amish incongruities

At 8:15 a.m. on our second walk this morning, Penne and I walked up Circus Boulevard here in SRQ.

We heard a voice from behind us.  We looked back.  We saw an Amish woman riding her tricycle.  (The Amish in SRQ cannot use Horse and Buggy cos of urban traffic. Instead they ride adults sized tricycles).

The Amish woman was speaking in one or other of the two German related languages which have been preserved by various Amish and Mennonite communities in the U.S.A.

Here’s the kicker.  This woman, clad in traditional Amish garb, was chatting on her cell ‘phone!

It  all seemed incongruous,wonderful, and amusing.


This photo' is not of the woman we saw and heard  this morning.  It is from a Sarasota community website.   But you'll get the idea of how Amish women (and men) get around in SRQ.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Speaking German with a Norwegian accent.

Sprechen Sie deutsch?

The two older women sat side by side on a stone bench. They chatted cheerfully as they enjoyed the sunny afternoon by a pretty pond.

As I grew nearer I heard them more clearly.  They were speaking German.  As I walked by with Penne I greeted them with a smile and "guten tag".

That may have been a mistake, for they believed me to be a German speaker, and began a conversation with me.  Or at least they tried to start a conversation. It took no more than 27 seconds for them to realise that I know next to nothing of their mother tongue.

They were very sweet about this. 

One of them was as limited in her command of English as I was in German. The other woman was fluent in English. 

They were still on the bench when I make my second circumnavigation of the pond.  We chatted some more. I discovered that of them was from Berlin, the other from Frankfurt. Frankfurt (Oder),  not Frankfurt am Main.  (They were pleased to see that I know that there are two Frankfurts in Germany).

I began to tell them of my very first visit to Germany.    The English speaker asked “were you in the war?”  (Do I look that old!).

I protested my youth, and related that my very first visit to Germany had been in about 1969, when I visited Oberstdorf, in the Bavarian Alps.  They were suitably impressed. The woman with limited English knew enough to respond “Oberstdorf is a pearl”.

Then Penne moved in on the act.  She indicated in her firm but loving way that she needed attention.  So she got the pats and caresses which are her due.

One of the women repeated over and over again (to my dog) “du bist gut”. Penne loved it.  She evidently has a good understanding of the German language.

This happened yesterday afternoon (March 12th 2012), and it reminded me of another visit I made to Germany, back in 1984.

My friend Joe R, his friend John F and I had driven from London through France, Switzerland and Italy.  After a visit to Munich we were making our way back to the coast and had reached Baden-Baden.  It was a dark and stormy night.  

We located an inexpensive Hotel (hard to do in Baden-Baden), and using my phrase book German asked if they had a room for three. The desk Clerk replied that they could offer a room for two and a single.  So far, so good.  They I enquired about price.  I understood his reply.

Then beginning to speak at length, he realised that I understood not a word.  He asked “do you speak English?”.  “Oh yes” I said, with considerable enthusiasm.  So we continued our conversation in English.

When it was through he asked me “Are you Norwegian?”. “No”, I replied, “why do you ask?”  “Well” said he, “you speak German with a Norwegian accent”.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Not Fred

Lunch today was at the Diocese of South West Florida’s Camp and Conference Centre, on the Manatee River up in Ellenton FL – some 18 miles from my home.

‘Twas the annual lunch for retired Clerics and their spouses -  a nice gift from the Diocesan staff to we “old farts” – the retired deacons and priests who serve  in various parishes in this neck of the woods.

We were served an excellent meal. I enjoyed sitting at table with three folks I know quite well, and another four other folks who I did not know so well.

Apres lunch I spotted my good friend and former colleague Fred Emrich who was seated at another table.  He was engaged across his table in conversation with another retiree.

I approached Fred from behind and tickled his back. As he turned his head I said “it is great to see you here”.  He responded likewise.

Then a light dawned for me.  

It was not Fred.  

It was another retired Priest, a man whom I’d never met before.  And he had never previously met me!

We kept up the charade. He was happy to receive my greeting.  I was happy to hear his response.

But he was not Fred!

I wonder about two things:

1        Who the heck was he?

2        Is he even now wondering why I greeted him with such enthusiasm?