Saturday, 23 June 2012

Fine Dining in SRQ

My friends Bill Byers and Patrick Cosgrove made a successful bid for an evening of fine dining with a host chef.  Their winning bid was destined to support a charity for needy children.

The chef created the menu and provided and prepared the food free of charge as his way of supporting the charity (and getting some good publicity).

Bill and Patrick decided that the dinner would be in honour of the 88th birthday of our mutual friend Ben Morse.  I was fortunate enough to be invited.

Here are some pics from the fabulous dinner -  which we enjoyed last evening 22nd June 2012.   "We" were nine gay men, plus Kay who is the favourite waitress of the men who eat each Thursday evening at the Hillview Grill.

Kay, Gordon, John.

Front Row: Greg, Ben, Bill, Bob. Back row: Patrick, John, Kay, Gordon, Chris.

Same cast of characters, avec moi

Chef Blake


Salmon cake with Lobster

Beef tenderloin etc


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Sunset cruise in Sarasota Bay (Part Two)

Dean Taylor, Interim Rector. Andi Taylor, Associate Rector. Old Priest who needs a haircut

Old Priest and Andi Taylor
These two photo's by Elisabeth Hamilton Meyer

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sunset cruise in Sarasota Bay (Part one)

The Revd. Andrea (Andi) Taylor is the Associate Rector at St. Boniface Church, Siseta Key FL.

Yesterday was her 45th birthday.

Andi’s husband Jonathan is in New Mexico with their younger son Jacob (on a Boy Scout hiking trip), whilst their older son Noah is studying Arabic in north Georgia.

So Andi created an instant family.  Last evening nine of us joined her on a “sunset cruise” on Sarasota Bay.  A grand time was had by all!

Here are some of the photo’s.

Andi in her glory. Bonnie Doell in background

Ralph McGimpsey Retired Priest Associate

Our lovely Ringling Bridge

"Mansion" on Bird Key

Kay McGimpsey leader of Boniface Eco-Stewardship Group, and volunteer at Resurrection House
Andi again, Henry Rhodes in background

Going down..
Almost gone

Final glory

More pics tomorrow.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Religion and Politics

My colleague, the Revd. Roger Alling preached at Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church, Camp Hill PA on June 10th.

His sermon was about the call of Saul to be the first King of Ancient Israel

(On June 17th I preached at All Angels Church, Longboat Key, FL  about the call of David to be the second King of Ancient Israel. Our sermons had interesting parallels.)

Roger made this good and worthy observation.  He said:

“I know that it is inappropriate to talk about religion and politics in the pulpit.  However I also know that it is essential that we talk about religion and human governance

How do modern states relate or fail to relate to the truths and values we hold dear as a result of our religion and our faith “

I am grateful for Roger’s distinction between preaching “politics”, and preaching about human governance.

It is a valuable and important distinction.

(Do be in touch with me if you would like to read Roger’s sermon in its entirety)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sermon for 17th June 2012.

Sermon for 17th June 2012.  The Revd. J. Michael Povey at All Angels by the Sea Episcopal Church, Longboat Key, FL

I Samuel 15:34 -17:48

1976 marked the bi-centennial of this great nation.  It was an election year.  It was the year in which I moved here from the United Kingdom.

I used to have a little joke with myself on general election years. “Here we go again”, I would think, “looking for yet another George Washington”.

We’ve never had one!  He was one of a kind. Indeed if “we the people” were asked to name our greatest Presidents, Washington would top most lists.

He became President almost by acclamation, such was his un-alloyed stature.  (See Note 1) 

But he also became President because of the brilliant work of the Constitutional Convention.  Even now it is hard for us to understand how the members of that Convention, coming as they did from thirteen disparate colonies could mould a document which created a nation. (See Note 2)  As one wag put it “the Constitution is the work of geniuses created so that we could be governed by idiots”.

How do you create a nation? 

 That was the question also faced by those twelve disparate tribes who had settled in Canaan and were coming together to create a nation we know as Ancient Israel.

Their ideal was insufficient for their reality.  The “ideal” was that they would be a loose confederation of twelve tribes, united in their common allegiance to God.  God was to be their ruler. God was to be their King.

But it is very hard to have a King who you cannot see.  So representatives of the people, wanting an earthly and visible King badgered their spiritual leader Samuel, who in turn consulted God.

God’s response was along the lines of “this hurts me”. “I am your King, but if you want to cheat on me I’ll go along with your foolishness, and you shall have an earthly King”.

And so, the saga asserts, God chose a young man named Saul, a man who stood head and shoulders above the people.

So it was that Saul became Israel’s first King.  We enter the story at a point where it is clear that his reign has been disastrous. So disastrous that the passage includes the tantalising words “the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel”.  Did God make a mistake?

If the Lord was sorry, then the great priest and prophet Samuel was sorrier. He was distraught.  It’s as if he blamed himself for God’s mistake and for Saul’s failures.

The Lord, responding to Samuel’s grief, encourages him to try again, and to go down to Bethlehem and there anoint another man to be King.

Samuel knows that it is a politically risky thing to do.

God understands the risk, so he sets up Samuel with a whopping lie:  “If King Saul asks”, God says, “tell him that you are going to Bethlehem to offer sacrifice”.

Armed with this subterfuge   Samuel trudges off to Bethlehem, and there anoints the least likely of Jesse’s sons, the young shepherd boy David to be King.

In this version of the story of how David became King, the centre of political power and authority is clear.  It is vested in the Priest/Prophet. He chooses the next King.  

In a bit of the chapter we did not read, soon after this anointing the young David enters the Royal household to sooth the moody King Saul by his skilful playing of the Lyre. Then he becomes Saul’s armour-bearer and court favourite - a not un-useful place for one who might launch a coup d’état! 

But there is an alternative story of how David was chosen.

It comes in chapter seventeen of first Samuel.  In this later version Saul had never heard of David until the latter had killed the Philistine champion, Goliath.  Saul hears of David because he is an expert with a sling shot.  After Goliath is killed King Saul ask his military commander Abner – “Inquire whose son the stripling is”.  Then David enters the royal household “head of Goliath in hand” at Saul’s invitation.

In this version of the story, the centre of political power and authority is not the priest/prophet, but it is the King himself.

Those two versions of the story set up what will be a continued tension in ancient Israel’s story.

 There is what we might call the “Religious Party” which advocates for the priority of the spiritual leaders in national affairs.

And there is what we might call the “Royalist Party” which knows that power comes at the edge of the sword.

As the story plays out over the centuries the Prophets continue to challenge the Kings for their abuses of power, and the Kings continue to persecute the Prophets.

In the end the monarchies fell in the face of invasions, first from Assyria and later from Babylon.

And the prophetic voice was muted when the crème de la crème of national leadership was shipped off into exile in Babylon, there to be trained in Babylonian forms of government.

The prophetic voice was awakened in what we call the first Century A.D. by John  the Baptiser and by Jesus of Nazareth.

 John the Baptiser challenged the oppressive “puppet monarch” Herod, and paid for his words with his head.

Jesus challenged the corrupted priestly class in Jerusalem, a class which having aligned its interests with that of the Roman Empire, conspired with that Imperial power to have Jesus crucified.

The followers of Jesus began a new movement which we now know as the Christian Church.  Many of those followers opposed the demands of the Roman Empire and paid for that opposition with their lives.

However, when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Empire,  the Bishops and other leaders of the Church were willingly co-opted to become agents of Imperial power.

Thus Church and State got in bed together and the message of the Gospel was weakened and diminished.

The Church became more concerned with its power, influence and wealth than with its call to serve the poor in Jesus’ name.

Not much has changed since then.