Wednesday, August 31, 2005

P at the Big A

I was a little nervous. Sure, I can talk big. "Look for the beer-soaked boy, that might be me," I wrote. But after getting into the A's gear, and then in the car, I was a little nervous. Grace and I had gone to the Rite-Aid for white-out and a green marker. But did I have the guts to cheer for the green and gold in the sea of red? Would I commit the treason of defacing the Vladimir Guerrero clacker?

When Joe and I got there, we had nothing to worry about. There were plenty of other A's fans there.

So we defaced our clackers. I converted mine to read Chavez, Joe did his to read Zito.

Disappoint- ingly, though the game was close and came down to the very last pitch – Chavez nearly hit a two-run home run in the last A's at-bat – the better team lost, despite a tremendous performance by the A's rookie starting pitcher, Joe Blanton.

We'll get 'em tomorrow night.

More photos from the game.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My First Out-of-Town Game

My stature as a true baseball fan must be rising. I am packing my bags tonight because I am not just off to any baseball game, but an out-of-town game. That's right, the beloved Oakland Athletics are in Anaheim, playing the Angels. And I will be there, Wednesday night and Thursday night, clad in the green and gold!

Combine Karen hinting that she might be happy if I got out of the house so she can continue to prepare for her upcoming comprehensive exams, with a very cheap airfare, me with little to do, and good friends in Long Beach who are also big A's fans: there I am. Off I go to greater Los Angeles.

If you get ESPN, the Wednesday night game will be on TV. I think because of that, they are giving out Vladimir Guerrero noisemakers, but I hope to bring some whiteout and a green marker and convert mine to maybe a Bobby Crosby noisemaker.

Look for the beer-soaked boy, and that might be me.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Clericals and a Chocolate Shake

We are off to St. Stephen's early tomorrow morning. St. Stephen's is where I did two semesters of field education, while serving as a deacon, for about nine months last year. I would have remained there as a priest if I could have, but alas, it is now much too far away. Karen and I will rise at about 5:15am to hit the road at 6am and be in Belvedere at 7:30am. We will do three hours of driving altogether. Ok for the occasional visit, but as a regular gig? It's not worth that kind of commute.

We do get a treat when we go to St. Stephen's, though. We go to In-N-Out Burger for lunch. Well, perhaps not exactly true . . . I go to In-N-Out, Karen gets a bagel at the deli.

For me I get a kind of perverse satisfaction out of wearing my collar in places where it might not be expected. I am not one of those priests for whom ordering that set of clerical collar pajamas almost seems appropriate, but I will wear the gear out in public. I remember one of the first times I was out it in public in the collar, I was shopping for a suit jacket for Sunday mornings. I went to get a burrito at a restaurant near the clothing store. When I went up to get some salsa, I could feel the distraction of me in the clericals. The eyes followed me across the restaurant floor. Another patron at the salsa bar did not just do a double take, but a triple take. First look, a dude getting salsa. Second look, a wheelchair dude getting salsa. Third look, is that wheelchair dude getting salsa super-religious or something? Suffice it to say, the last take resulted in a look of utter consternation and salsa all over the floor.

Let's hope nobody spills his or her food tomorrow. But it is a good feeling to get odd looks for clericals, rather than just being in the chair, at least once in a while.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Parable of Jesus and the Rubber Chicken

What if Christ spoke at a Republican Party fund-raiser?

For all you religion and politics folks out there: a little tongue in cheek humor, from Slate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Closing a Chapter

I put the defense draft of my thesis in the mail today, to my advisor and my two readers.

My advisor, and one of the readers, have already read a recent draft. They have already let me know what needs to be expanded or changed. What this hopefully means is that there will be very few revisions to make once I defend, because only one of my readers has not seen the thesis. So dropping the document in the mail today is very close to the end of this process. All that is left for me is to defend, and then the last revisions based on how well the defense goes.

I already don't know what to do with myself.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Nenceba Journal: an American nurse in South Africa: wildlife

This is a friend of mine who is in South Africa.

It is the funniest post I have read in a long time.

The Nenceba Journal: an American nurse in South Africa: wildlife

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Proper 16, Year A: Origen on Peter and the Church

When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Matthew 16:13-20, NRSV

If we say what Peter said, not by revelation of flesh and blood, but by the light from the Father in Heaven having illumined our hearts, we ourselves become as Peter, and are blessed like him, because of the very reasons for which he was blessed have extended to us . . . if we have said what Peter did, by light shining into our heart from the Father in Heaven, we become a Peter, and to us might be said by the Word, 'Thou art Peter' . . . For a Rock is every disciple of Christ (from Whom they drank) who drank of the spiritual Rock following them; and on every such Rock is built the whole message of the Church, and the corresponding mode of life; for in every one of the perfect who have the sum of the words and deeds and thoughts which complete blessedness, is the Church that is built by God.

Origen, Commentary on Matthew, Tome xii. 9-10.

This quote highlights one of the great gifts of Origen: his ability to read Scripture in a deeply personal way. Many of us are accustomed to hearing this story of Peter's confession and blessing as story about another person. Many of us are accustomed to think that this is about Peter, and then maybe the Bishop of Rome, or maybe our parish priest. Certainly it is these folks upon whom the church is built, certainly it is these folks who are given the blessing and power to bind and loose sins.

But Origen, engaging the primacy of Peter (a connection he makes much more explicit in the text that follows this short quote), claims Peter's confession and blessing not just for Peter and his ecclesiastical heirs. It is not just for Peter to say to Jesus, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God," nor is the blessing given only to church leaders. Origen claims this confession, and blessing, for all Christians.

But Origen, despite his claim that this story belongs to each individual Christian, does not set aside the fact that this story is also about the church. Yes, this confession reveals the illumination of the heart of the person, and this illumination reveals a personal blessing, the same blessing that Peter receives. So we also are called Peter, the Rock. And each of us is a disciple, and live the Christian life, because we confess. But, Origen also interprets this story in a corporate way: it is upon each of us, confessors, that the life and message of the whole church is built.

And this is Christian blessedness, according to Origen: to be complete in how we act, what we say, and what we think and believe. And upon these, the confessors and the disciples of Christ, the ones who say that "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God," is built the genuine church, from the inside out.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Footnote Editing

I'm working on the defense draft of my thesis. Thank God for the dark brew, the bits of bean suspended in hot hot water, because footnotes are about as exciting as, well, hmmmm. Come to think of it, I don't think I can think of anything more boring than footnote editing.

I hope to get this defense draft in the mail early next week. I defend on the 8th of September, 9am.

More updates to come, but for now I'm off to put the kettle on.


Monday, August 15, 2005

The Cruelty of Memory

Memory can be cruel.

I was out by the UC Davis exper- imental fields yesterday, and they reminded me of the Manitoba prairies. Davis, and much of the Central Valley, is as flat as the prairies, and much of the land is tilled and worked like the fields of Manitoba. So when I look out at the empty fields here, in this part of California, I can't help but think of my childhood.

I remember trudging across a recently harvested field, near Portage la Prairie, with Tom. Our dads were sitting in a duck blind in that field, watching for the migrating Mallards and Pintails to congregate or fly overhead, we were walking toward the duck blind, looking for our hidden and patiently waiting hunter fathers. Our dads had arisen much earlier than we did, so just the two of us, eight years old, walked across the field that mid-morning, after the frost had melted and the soil was a bit wet. Partway to the blind we looked up to see a honking, lone duck fly over our heads. Tom made like he had a rifle in his hands, and made a noise like he was shooting at it, too. I just watched it, awkwardly pumping its wings, a shadow against a bright blue sky.

When we got to the blind, Tom said to his dad, "we saw a loner, flying low. If I had a rifle I could have shot it easy."

I remember that same year, being at a cabin near a field, a field a lot like the one right by my house here in Davis, except that one had huge round bales on it, spaced out evenly. That day, in the hot late-Autumn orange sun, Chris and I played on and around that bale for what felt like hours, getting straw in every nook of our clothes, and every cranny of our bodies. We ran and climbed and laughed like the kids we were, and when we left the bale, we left it tattered and worn, ousted hay lying all around it in a pale yellow circle on the dark brown earth. We walked back to the cabin and under the pall of early evening, satisfyingly tired and hungry from our play.

We moved away from Portage the next year, before I saw another Autumn day there. I haven't heard anything of Tom for years, and I think Chris is now a doctor near Ottawa. I'm here in Davis, looking out at field that only looks like it is one of those fields from my childhood, an unkind doppelganger, a lonely reminder that I am no longer a child. I sit here watching a lone crow flying overhead, circling and searching for a place to land, while I sit here on the ground, still under the weight of happy memories.

A few years ago I was part of a small group that met for Bible study and to read and talk about books. We each took turns leading the group, and when my turn came around, I led us in a reflection on the book we were reading, Kathleen Norris' "The Cloister Walk." I played songs on the CD player, like Neil Young's "Everybody Knows this is Nowhere" and Tom Waits' "Stone Blind Love," songs about traveling, songs about not belonging. I said that the Christian life is kind of like that, it is a life of searching and longing, where we know that life isn't quite what we know it should be. I said that the Christian life can be a life of not quite fitting in. Most of us sat silently that night, thinking about the songs we had just heard, all of us except one young woman who wasn't sure that we should turn to Neil Young for this kind of guidance.

But as I continue to read stories from the lives of ancient Christians I am struck that this idea of Christian sojourn is common. Jesus sent out his apostles into world, with nothing much more than a friend by their side. St. Paul's travels were extensive, and those roads he traveled must have been lonely too. When Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthians early in the 2nd century, he opened the letter with a salutation from "the Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth . . . " Clement's letters are written to a people who don't belong, a people who are at once sedentary and moving, a people who don't quite fit in where they are. But there they are, living in Rome and Corinth nonetheless.

So I'm not sure I should trust my memory. Those were good times I remember, without a doubt. But wasn't I picked on and punched by those strange kids outside the Lions pool? Have I forgotten that I was a really bad soccer player, one of the only players never to score a goal that year, besides the one I scored in practice when the ball trickled past the goalie only because I miffed the kick and the ball rolled way more slowly than the goalie expected? If my memory makes me think that all was good then, and all is not so good now, memory is not just cruel. It is a tyrant.

It is a tyrant because it prevents me from seeing what is good here. It forces forgetfulness of the present, a time when there is no memory because we don't remember what is happening right now, we can only live it. But what if I thought about right now? I am enjoying my evening strolls, and I love knowing that the bird with the yellow beak and the white stripe is a Magpie. Dave, Dina, Everett and Julian have traveled here from Berkeley for barbecue chicken. Joe, Julie and Grace have stopped in on a trip through Northern California for Chinese food.

Yes, life here is sometimes lonely, and I don't always feel like I fit in. But this is all part of the life I have chosen. Besides, when I am careful with how I remember, I know this life can also be good. When I am not comparing my life now with some glorious, counterfeit past, I know there is always good times and bad. Just like there was good and bad back in Manitoba, and just like it is here good and bad now, here in Davis, California.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Proper 15, Year A: St. Augustine on the Canaanite Woman

"Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly." Matthew 15:21-28, NRSV.

I have heard this text preached, on a number of occasions, as an instance of Jesus' humanity. After all, God would not be either a xenophobe or a misogynist, as this passage leads us to think he is. God would never ignore the Canaanite woman, nor call her little more than a begging dog. God could not ever be so prejudiced against women and outsiders. Instead, as I've heard it, this is an instance of the human Jesus learning something from a woman. Because God could not have anything against women or Canaanites, it is Jesus' ignorant human self that is changed and convinced to help the ailing daughter.

This is a compelling interpretation. It saves Jesus from a possible (and certainly unseemly) prejudice, and it offers the idea that a woman might very well teach Jesus a thing or two.

St. Augustine, however, did not read this passage this way. He writes that

"she . . . cried out, eager to get help, and kept insisting. But she was ignored, not that mercy might be denied but that desire might be enkindled; not only that desire might be enkindled but, as I said before, that humility might be praised." St. Augustine, Sermon 77.1

St. Augustine draws on another idea about who Jesus is. For St. Augustine Jesus is not a prejudiced human, but is instead a wise teacher. Jesus intentionally ignores the cries of the Canaanite woman, not because he despises women or Canaanites, but because he wishes to teach about how to desire what is good, like the release of a family member from demonic oppression. Further, he teaches that humility is good, and he rewards the Canaanite woman's humble pronouncement that she is one of "the dogs that eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Jesus, according to St. Augustine, thinks this kind of humility is desirable.

But who is this Canaanite, woman, according to St. Augustine? If she is read to be simply a Canaanite woman, we are left with an awful aftertaste. We are left with the possibility that Jesus wants women and outsiders to call themselves hungry dogs, humiliating themselves before the wise Jesus. But this is not how St. Augustine reads the Canaanite woman; he, instead, calls her a figure of the church.

This is very important. In the contemporary reading, where Jesus is taught by the woman through her sarcastic retort, we come away with a very different message. In this interpretation the woman is also a figure of our church, but now she is not only the church that overcomes prejudice, but she is also a prideful figure. She represents a church that knows better than Jesus does. The contemporary reading subverts both the authority of Christ and elevates prideful reproach of Jesus as virtuous.

But Augustine's reading, where Jesus is consciously teaching the church about the desire for what is good and how to be humble, avoids both a Jesus who despises a specific person or group and maintains his authority as a teacher. St. Augustine teaches about a church who through looking to Jesus for help discovers what is good. He teaches about a church that knows from whom salvation comes and responds to him with humility.

And this is what we need in these days, not a prideful church seeking its own ways, telling Jesus what to do. We need something else; we need a humble church, a church that does not look only to herself, but looks to Christ for salvation and guidance.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I've Been Feeding What?

As some of you know, if you've been reading my posts on being here in Davis, I love to get to know the local wildlife. To this end, I put up a birdfeeder in the backyard, hoping that some of the local birds would drop by and indulge my hospitality.

I was glad to see that almost right away the bird-seed was disappearing. I wasn't seeing any birds eating at the feeder, but I figured that it was because they were eating the feed early in the morning, and me being a late riser, I simply never saw the birds enjoying their breakfast.

Well, in the middle of the night the last week, Karen and I were awakened by a something hitting our window. We did not find out what hit the window, but we did see a large creature eating out of the birdfeeder. It wasn't a bird. It was maybe 15 inches long, oval shaped, with a white belly. The next day I took the birdfeeder down, as I did not want to feed this non-avian, whatever it was.

Fast-forward to this afternoon. I was invited to a parish get-together, and I asked some long-time Davis residents what this creature might have been.

It was a rat.

I was feeding a big-ass rat, a rat larger than either of my cats, including the fat one.

I am tempted to send them both out one night, hunting that beast, but I think the rat might kill the cats.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Players rally around child after grandfather collapses

If you are looking for a feel-good story, try this one:

Players rally around child after grandfather collapses

The story I heard on NPR this morning had the little guy sitting in the laps of the bullpen pitchers.

It's no wonder baseball is so woven into the hearts of so many Americans.

St. John Chrysostom on the Transfiguration

On this Feast of the Transfiguration, I offer a quote from St. John Chrysostom, including some commentary by me. Take it for what it is, a small man peering out from the shadows of a greater theologian, though both, we pray, illuminated by the light of Christ.

St. John Chrysostom invites his reader, in his "Exhortation to Theodore After his Fall," to imagine the great glory of the Lord during the transfiguration. The glory is certainly great, but even there on that mountain, the glory of Christ is not revealed in its fullness:

"even then He did not display to us all the splendour of the world to come. For that the vision was accommodated to human eyes, and not an exact manifestation of the reality is plain from the very words of the Evangelist. For what did he say? "He did shine as the Sun." But the glory of incorruptible bodies does not emit the same kind of light as this body which is corruptible, nor is it of a kind to be tolerable to mortal eyes, but needs incorruptible and immortal eyes to contemplate it. But at that time on the mountain He disclosed to them as much as it was possible for them to see without injuring the sight of the beholders; and even so they could not endure it but fell upon their faces."

Our human and failing eyes were accommodated in this act of revelation, and Christ was revealed in a mode suited to the world we know, His glory revealed as the glory of the sun. We are given as much of this glory as we can possibly take, and it is overwhelming; we fall on our faces in awe of the greatness and in worship of Jesus.

But this glory is not just the glory of Christ. The transfiguration of Christ approximates for us, not only the glory of Jesus on the last day, but "all the splendour of the world to come." Why is the world also transfigured? Because more than just the body is implicated in the subjection of death. St. John writes that

"the whole creation partakes of corruption, it is subject to many things such as bodies of this kind naturally experience." Jesus' transfiguration does not show only the glory of Christ on the last day, but also the glory of the whole creation, "having divested itself of all [corruption], we shall see it display its beauty in an incorruptible form: for inasmuch as it is to receive incorruptible bodies, it will in future be itself also transfigured into the nobler condition."

All of this world has been caught up in corruption. But now, after the advent of Christ, even the creation is caught up in the glory of Christ shown in the transfiguration. The promise of the transfiguration is that creation too will shed its enslavement to corruption and death, as it will be receiveing glorious bodies. The transfiguration is not just an event in human history, but in the history of the whole cosmos.

Yet it reaches even farther than this world we know. In the time to come "all things relating to decay are utterly removed, and incorruptible glory reigns in every part," and when Chrysostom says "every part," he means even the heavenly places. The transfiguration points to a time of

"perpetual enjoyment of intercourse with Christ in the company of angels, and archangels, and the higher powers. Behold now the sky, and pass through it in thought to the region beyond the sky, and consider the transfiguration to take place in the whole creation; for it will not continue to be such as it is now, but will be far more brilliant and beautiful."

The transfiguration is an event that shows us not just the transformation of one body into glory, but the transformation of the whole world from death into life. The beauty of this transfigured man will creep through the world, even into the regions beyond the sky. Because of this the beauty of heaven will be completed, but only after all of what God has made, the human person and the world we live in, comes into friendship with Christ and the angels.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Proper 14, Year A: More on Walking on Water

I know that fear the disciples knew, when they were in their boat on that choppy sea. I've been on the lake when you can feel that the hard rain is about to turn to hail, and the wind is so strong that you're not sure if you could get to shore if you wanted to. I've been on the lake when the wind is so strong that you're not sure if you could keep yourself from the rocky shore, if that was what you wanted to.

I imagine you know this fear, the fear that comes when you don't know what is coming next, or the fear that comes when you do know what is coming next, but would prefer not to know it.

But the fear the disciples felt was not just about the weather.

They were also afraid because when they looked out upon the sea they thought they saw a phantasm, a ghost. Someone, or something, that they didn't know.

The bad weather is one thing, not knowing what is coming next is one thing, but the possibility of a nether-worldly visitation probably doesn't help a stressful situation.

But what happens next, according to Matthew, is that Jesus immediately speaks to them and says

'Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.'"

By this Jesus says two important things about who he is.

He says that he is not a ghost, he is not someone to fear, he is the friend they know and love.

He says that he is the very same person that they know from his call to follow, the one they know from the voice of his teaching, the one they know from the meals they shared.

But he says another thing at the same time, with the same words: He doesn't just say that he is the one they know, but in his call to them he claims the divine name, the name spoken to Moses though the burning bush.

Jesus says "It is I, the one you know," as he says "I am."

And this tells us something important about who Jesus is; he is the one who walked the dusty roads of Galilee, and he is the Lord of the earth we walk upon.

He is the one who walks on the water in the storm, and he is the Lord of the water and what is in it, the Lord of the stormy sea.

Peter says to Jesus, once he thinks it might be his friend, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."

Peter's response to Jesus is an act of faith, an act of faith in Jesus.

Peter does not say, "Well Jesus if you can do it, I will surely do it too."

Peter is not the little engine that could, as if miracles are won by self-confidence. Peter is not saying to himself, "I think I can . . . walk on the water, I think I can . . . walk on the water . . ."

Because this kind of self-confidence is just another form of idolatry, the idolatry of the self. What Peter doesn't show is self-confidence, but God confidence, Jesus confidence.

Peter's confidence is in the Holy one of Israel, the one walking on the water.

And let's not miss two ironies in Peter's sinking, two things that give us some insight into the Christian life.

Peter is distracted by the wind, and becomes frightened by it.

Has Jesus not just claimed that he made the wind, the storm, the world and all that is in it?

Peter becomes afraid of exactly what the one he has just claimed faith in has power over.

The other irony is that the wind should be the least of his worries.

The greater danger when you are walking in the water is drowning.

The wind might mess up your hair. But the water will come between you and what gives you life.

The Christian life can be like this, too. We become distracted by things that really should worry us least, and we miss the things that should worry us most.

I know that I worry about car payments, I worry about what to wear, I worry about what people think of me.

And these worries keep me from examining larger issues in my life, like my walk with God, and my own problems of faith and belief, my own sin, my own temptations.

But even in these larger problems, when we are at sea without a boat or even a life preserver, when our very life is in danger, Jesus reaches out his hand to us, and does not save us from this storm.

Jesus saves us in the storm.

The order of events in the story is important: Jesus walks on the water, in the storm. Peter walks on the water, in the storm. Jesus lifts Peter out of the sea, in the storm.

And only then does Jesus calm the storm. Jesus does not come to us when the lake is like glass, when all things are well in the world, at least not in this story - Jesus comes when the rain is about to turn to hail, you are out of your boat, and sinking fast.

This is the life of faith: to live in a world where the one who is fully human, and fully God, reaches out to us in our moment of despair.

Faith is about living in a world where the one we worship is not ourselves, but the Lord of the sea and what is in it, the one who can quell the storm upon it.

A world where it is our Saviour, the Son of God, human and divine, the one who abolishes sin and even our lack of faith, who is reaching out his hand.

A world where we are surprised, a world where miracles can happen, not just because the bible tells us so, but because in a world where Jesus, and even Peter, can walk on water, there is a little more hope for me, and for the world, because odd, strange, and new things can happen.

This is my hope; for a world in which we have faith, a faith in this strange man, who is God, who walks on the water, saves us from ourselves, not from the storm, but in the storm, the one who gives us our faith in him, by bringing us up into life with Him.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Serving at St. Martin's

I presided for the first time at St. Martin's yesterday. It was my first time in a chasuble, besides the practice worship in my liturgy class. I have been under the weather for a couple of days, and running a fever the night before, and with all that liturgical gear on I just about fainted during the sermon. Thankfully I was no the one preaching! I was afraid that when I got up to chant, I would get light-headed, and keel over during the eucharistic prayer. Thankfully we were all saved from this, and all went fine - except that I forgot about the post-communion hymn. Ah well. I will apologize to the folks at the healing station, as this gave them a little less time for their work.

All in all a pretty pedestrian morning, really. I wish the ordination glow would have lasted at least a little longer. Some of the sheen has worn off, and I am beginning to find even this act, of presiding at the eucharist, to be routine.

The reception here at St. Martin's has been very good. They are a friendly bunch. Nobody seems to have flinched much at the small changes we made - we have adapted the worship space a little, and I presided at a small table in front of the high altar, up one step. (If you take a look at the St. Martin's website, imagine me behind a table between the gap in the communion rail).

Perhaps there will be some discomfort. At a previous parish, the morning after serving as a deacon, the church office got an anonymous phone call. According to the story, she had brought her elderly sister to church for the first time in a long while, and the sister was offended that I touched my tire and then the sacrament. This was a good point, to my mind, and I am careful about those kinds of optics now. The hunch was, though, that this was an expression of a more deep-seated anxiety. I wish I could have called her, but she left no name, no number. Just her odd story about her offended sister.

If anyone does come out of the woodwork here, and expresses their discomfort, I hope that I am able to talk it through with them. It is much easier to be angry about the new crippled priest, than the polite young man with whom you have shared a nice cup of tea.

I'll take the cup of tea any day. I hope they do too.