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Born a Texan, but traveled the US extensively.  Now staying on the East coast.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

what else was on my mind - another sermon

The sermon has been on my mind since Sunday, so a bit of a prefaces is needed...
I grew up an only child, with a room of my own and was very possessive about it,
but there was something always in the back of my mind (or heart) that it was all only temporary.
I loved to build sandcastles for that reason.
Why?
I do not have an answer, but as an adult, thing were very different and i shared my space continually,
well because i live in a Christian community and we hold all things together
and more so i felt that what i have is so i can share.
Now the sermon tells a still stronger story and i look forward to a day that i can have my own space....to the sermon

ROOMS
Easter 5
Mother’s Day
John 14:1-14
          Jesus Christ assures you and me of a room. Our destiny is guaranteed. We don’t have to phone ahead or take out a mortgage.
          Some time ago my wife looked up one Sunday afternoon and proclaimed, “I want a room of my own!” This was not a dainty suggestion or a reflective whimper. This was straight from her gut and reached right back to when women kicked aside the bones in the cave she shared with her Neanderthal husband and pet brontosaurs.
          Haven’t you ever felt that way? Have you not known an instinctive claim of entitlement for your own space, your own abiding place, your own spot? Parents sometimes forget this need for a room. When their son or daughter goes off to college they want to rush in and rake out their offspring’s room, hose it down, and truck in a dumpster to take away all the “junk” their kid acquired. Woe to the parent who doth such heinous deed” Kids know that a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. If cleanliness and godliness are connected, then they will opt for ungodliness. Their room embodies their way of life. Here they tell the truth to themselves, and discover the truth about themselves. Here they have their being and find their life. Wasn’t that true for you? It may not have been your bedroom. It may have been a corner of the cellar or the garage, or a seat near a window or your side of the bed. It was your spot (Almost as hallowed as the spot in the pew where you sit every Sunday, and which you staked out eons ago). It was your spot, your room. You defined your room and your room defined you.
          Isn’t that true even now for you? My wife has her spot at her desk in the middle of the family room. But her real “abiding place”, her room, is the right-hand side of our king-sized bed, to which she retires and religiously reads for an hour 356 days of the year, as she has for 56 years. Women, I think, have a greater sense of an abiding place than do men. Although, I would literally go crazy if I did not have my own study and office, where I can physically as well as mentally deal with the way I am and what is true and false and what it is that is in regard to life.
          As you have probably guessed by now, this sermon is about rooms, women (mothers especially), and Jesus. The woman I want to talk about for a few minutes is not my wife, but my mother. For in thinking about today’s lectionary Gospel, I kept thinking about my mother, and I realized that whenever I think about her I visualize her in the context of a room. And in a sense there was a room, which identified or defined, each stage of her life.
          The earliest stories she used to tell me about herself were of her playing as a child high up in the turret of a large Victorian house in Rockford, Illinois. For hours on end she would play with her china dolls, some from Germany and some from Cathay. She would act out the routines of the lives of the aristocrats of the city, mimicking their ways, learning the truths of how people interacted, pantomiming the dance of life. Hers was the childhood of a widow’s only daughter, who looked out over the treetops and wondered about life. Surely not so unusual from moments that you and I had as a child.
          My earliest memories of my mother are of her sitting on her rocker in a corner of the bedroom, doing her sewing, mending our clothes, or darning a sweater, stitching together her thoughts as she kept vigil during my father’s long illness. Often it was a place where I would crawl onto her lap to hear a story. More often than not, it was a place where she wrestled with her private demons.
          In later years, when she was in her forties and early fifties, her room was a classroom, where she taught social studies, first at Glen Ellyn Junior High and later at Sunset Hill private girls’ school in Kansas City. There she imparted a way of life and of inquiry to her students, helped them discover the rudimentary truths of knowledge, and opened the doors of life to eager and indolent minds alike. In her late fifties and up into her seventies, her room was not in her home, but at her business, which she started. It was there that she made her decisions, melded truth with integrity and really came alive. Her business became her way of life. Her office was her absolute domain. It was the lair of a lioness. One entered it very carefully.
          She went almost directly from her office to Greenwich Hospital and then to Putnam Weaver Nursing Home. She had returned to a room of her own – one room, where she could look out over the treetops and where she sorted through her memories, and dreams, and the ways and truths of her life. Her journey from room to room, was it so unlike that of someone you know? Is it much different from that of many of us?
          At her funeral, the priest read one of the Gospel passages appointed for that service and one, which I have used at burial services over and over again:
          Jesus said to his followers, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, Believe also in me. In my Fathers house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
          Jesus, who was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn, who celebrated the Last Supper in a borrowed upper room, knew the importance of having a room of your own, a space of your own. For he assures us that at the end of our mortal lives there awaits for us our own special abiding place, our own room. Our journey from the time of conception and the room of the womb is a journey with a destiny. Its destination is a room in the household of God, where we have our own place with those who have gone before, those whom we call the saints of God. Our destiny is not isolation, but a special dwelling place where we can join in the fellowship and communion of the saints with God.
          Is Jesus’ promise of a room of our own in heaven really so implausible? In these last few years I have become firmly convinced of life after death and a place in heaven. We don’t need to engage in fantastic graphics of the imagination and picture various realms of heaven as did the Gnostics and the apocryphal writers. They had levels of heaven, where there were cosmic motels on the highway of heaven, with Hell a Super 6 in Gary, Indiana, and the Heavenly Rest the Trump Plaza. That is sheer fantasy. But let’s face it, Jesus speaks to very real sense, which we all have. This is a sense of place, a sense of habitation where our identity, our way of life is defined. This where we deal with questions of appearance and reality (or Truth), and where we are in touch with the vital juices, or that positive creativity, which is the heart of life. From this way of thinking, cannot even the most doubtful unbeliever begin to make the segue from a room in this life to one which awaits us in the next?
          As Christians, you and I have, I think, a greater intimation of immortality. In our lives and in our rooms we catch glimpses of our place in heaven. For as members of the Church we have already through baptism begun to enter into the life of Christ and in the communion of the saints now and later on. Here in this present fellowship of the church, we confess Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. In so doing we make room for Him in our room. By so confessing we come to understand Him as the authentic way of life, and as the authenticity of truth and life. We gain this sense of Jesus as the way the truth and the life through reflection upon His life as gospel and as revelation of God, and through participation in the sacraments.
          There are, of course, moral implications to having a room of our own, where we discover and know the way, the truth, and life. First of all, respect your own space and that of others. Privacy and affirmation are important nutrients on our lives. Secondly, share your abiding place, your room with your neighbor. This helps you to move along the way and to gain insights into truth and life. And thirdly, help create a room or space for someone else. This not only means encouraging our children or friends to value themselves and to make a place for themselves. It also means literally working to solve the problem of adequate housing for the poor and the homeless. This is a seemingly impossible task. But our own room is false if we have not sought to prepare a similar place for someone else.

          Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms…I go to prepare a place for you.” This blessed assurance, similar to one given by a mother to a child, frees us to deal with the space of our lives. For we know that we are not alone, but are really worth something, loved, and awaited with great expectation by none other than god Himself. What a really great Easter promise for Mother’s Day! Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

something different - flood in the evening

not of water,
but of thoughts
and feelings
and words...
Wow!
what happened,
but i suppose they have been bubbling within me all day....

thoughts of just a few years back,
when i was not doing so well still,
from all the turmoil that was my life...after.
I did not think,
or maybe i did not want,
to live passed 60.
I am 62 now.
There was a turnaround
and i improved.
Was it my attitude first
or my body?
The old chicken and egg question
and i still do not know,
but i am here
and doing better.
I looked around at that time,
for someone to be with when i passed
and could not find them.
Now, i have met that person,
but am no longer interested in going from here.

There are still more thoughts,
do i dare start them now?
No i will leave them for the 'morrow
and that will be enough!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

just what am i doing?????????

i thought i had a busy life,
i thought things were active,
i did not know,
i could not know,
i have been packing to move...
i have moved before,
but i do not remember how bad it really was,
or is it that it was not this bad?
Rhyme and verse,
escape me.
My heart flutters,
but does not sing.
This is something i wanted for a long time,
but now i might not be so sure....
work, when i did, was easy.
This requires vigilance and much more!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Father Gage again: the Easter Message

THE EMPTY TOMB
EASTER EVE
          Tonight is the defining moment of Christendom. Tonight we meet the empty tomb. In so doing, you and I confront Christ’s resurrection, which marks His victory, His triumph, over evil, sin and death. By the resurrection of Christ, God shows us that hope overcomes despair, that righteousness overcomes injustice, that mercy overcomes oppression and that love overcomes terror and hatred.
          It is the doctrine of the resurrection that sets Christians, you and me, apart from other religions and interpretations regarding the meaning of life. By His resurrection Jesus is more than just a holy man, more than a prophet, more than a teacher-rabbi, more than a miracle worker-healer. Christ’s resurrection affirms Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, the guarantor of eternal life. Christ’s resurrection changed history and redefined the meaning of life for millions.
          Now I am going to tell you three stories. You have heard them before. The first story: Years ago, I met the Easter Bunny. It wasn’t really the Easter Bunny; it was a person in a white rabbit suit out in the day care playground. She was having a great time with the kids. In my imagination I asked, “What are you doing?” “ “Oh, I’m having fun with the children. I guess I am trying to remind folk of joy and peace and new birth.” “ Funny, I replied, that is my job too. Hop along,” I said, and she did.
          Imagination transports us through the spectrum of time, enables us to participate in various dimensions of reality and to grasp truths that often seem ephemeral. One of which is the story of the resurrection. It is the story of hope. It is the assurance of eternal life with a loving God. The story of the Easter Bunny moves us to that direction. It is good. The secular world is but a reflection of the eternal world. It prepares us for truths too deep for tears, too joyous for laughter.
          For many Easter is simply the seasonal celebration of spring and new birth, a reflection of the life cycle. But for Christians, Easter is more than the religion of nature; it is the statement that through the revelation of Jesus Christ each one of us receives the promise of eternal life with the source of all life and all beauty and all love, God Himself.
          Now for my second story: Jesus was a Jew. You cannot understand Easter without knowing about the prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah and the Psalms. Israel longed for, hungered for, a messiah. Jesus fulfilled that expectation and hunger. The Old Testament is the foundation for Christianity. Our Easter event is the demarcation of Christianity from Judaism.
          The third story: It is part of a much longer story, which is one of my favorites. Some years ago I had a call at 10:30 p.m. from Bouton and Reynolds Funeral Home. “Father Gage, this is Michelle. I have a special request of you. Could you do a Jewish funeral tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.? I cannot get a rabbi. The family had decided they would not have a funeral, but at the last minute felt that they had to have some kind of service. They are more or less non-practicing Jews. When I was unable to get a rabbi, I told them that I knew a really nice Episcopal priest, who would try to help them. It will be just a small family gathering. Can you help me out?” “Sure, Michelle, I’ll do what I can,” I replied. After I hung up and told my wife, Faye, about this, she replied, “Are you out of your mind?”
          Apparently I was. I got up early the next morning and went down to my office. I have some books on funerals, and I thought I would find something in them. Nothing. “Oh, well, I thought, I’ll just take the burial service in The Book of Common Prayer and delete any references to Jesus.” Wrong. The burial service opens with, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (BCP p.469)
          The whole burial service is loaded with Easter and resurrection theology. So I put together a service of an opening statement, a prayer, a psalm, a reading from Ecclesiastes, a prayer, a psalm, a eulogy and a closing prayer.
          When I got to the funeral home, the “small family gathering” was of 80, 60 men and 20 women dressed in black. I told them that I was honored to be with them in their time of grief and loss and that my job as a minister was to tend to the needs of all people in the heart of Stamford. They were relieved and the service went well.
          My point is that it is the Easter story of the resurrection that is the lynchpin of our Christian religion. Judaism is wonderful and we are deeply indebted to it for our Judeo-Christian heritage. But we part company in our narrative, in our history, in our imagination, in our expectations and in our philosophic/theological worldview as a result of the Church’s experience, of your and my experience, of the empty tomb.
          My third story is more of a reflection. On Tuesday of the following week, I gave the homily at the funeral of a woman I had known for 25 years. She was the same age as I am and we shared the same tart sense of the absurdity of life. We also shared a deeply felt reliance upon God and thankfulness for the salvation, which we found in Jesus as the resurrected Christ. We will meet in heaven someday and have a great time comparing our observations and experiences. Following her funeral, I had two other funerals in the upcoming weeks. One woman I’d known for 45 years. The other woman I knew not at all.
          In each of these funerals, my job was to articulate the Easter message of the resurrection. It was to affirm that in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ you and I have a personal promise that says that life is purposeful, is meaningful, is positive, creative, recreative and full of redemption and hope. It is the message of the resurrection. The Easter event that you and I celebrate is the affirmation of that which is mysterious and imponderable. It speaks to our own hunger for victory and triumph in life. It speaks to our own instincts and consciences, to the image of God within us, which recognizes the truth of an unimaginable triumphant act of a miracle – of the resurrection event, which is the focus and pulsating signal of our life and our hope.   
          Brothers and sisters, the old Book of Common Prayer has it nailed when it proclaims, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
          I know that my Redeemer liveth, and he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.” BCP     
          Tonight you and I celebrate the victory of love over cruelty, mortality and despair. We celebrate that triumph because it speaks to us collectively and individually and because it also speaks for us. You and I exalt in the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil, sin and death. And that’s an amazing victory and triumph! That brothers and sisters, is our triumph. Jesus Christ is risen. Brothers and sisters, let me hear it; Christ is risen. The Lord is risen in deed. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Amen. – Fr. Gage


Saturday, April 15, 2017

I promised to share, but have not always

MAUNDY THURSDAY
          It is funny how the ceremony of foot washing seems to be kind of embarrassing to us. It seems so intimate and personal. We are hesitant to bare our feet. And yet in our current culture people bare their souls on television and their torsos on the stage and on the beach.
          A number of years ago I worked closely with the manager of one of the Union Trust branches. She literally kept me solvent while I was in business. She taught me to hoard my cash and to work the interest rates, etc. One day she told me that she would be away for six weeks. “How so?” “I asked. I am going to have my feet operated on,” she replied. She then kicked off her shoes and showed me her feet. They were so misshapen that I marveled that she could walk. Six weeks later she was back at her desk. “How are the feet?” I asked. She kicked off her shoes and showed me the most perfectly formed feet you could think of. “Now, I can really walk,” she exclaimed.
          You see, when your feet are in good shape, you can walk.
          Years later I started going to a podiatrist. Every ten weeks I have a whirlpool bath and the nails clipped. I leave with “happy feet.”
          We think of Andronocles and the lion, where the lad removes the thorn from the lion’s paw. For years I had to tend to my Black Lab’s feet. Over the years I tended to my children’s feet and even to my wife’s.
          Several times during Lent we have read passages in which Jesus’ feet are washed by one or more women. The act of foot washing was at the time seen as an act of hospitality and civility. But there is more to it than that. In the act of foot washing the host becomes the servant. There is a certain humility (even if it is done by a servant) that is intended. When Jesus’ feet are washed by the women, it is an act of devotion and a foreshadowing of His kingship and His death.
          When at the Passover meal Jesus washes the feet of His disciples, He is taking upon Himself the role of servant hood. The Lord becomes the servant. He admonishes His disciples to emulate His behavior. Thus their role is to be one of servant hood and humility. Their souls are to be tended to by such humility and service to one another and to Christ.  
          You see, when your feet are in good shape, you can walk. Or to put it differently, when your soul has humility and is in good shape, you truly live.
We tend to our souls through acts of genuine humility and devotion. They prepare our souls to walk through the events of Good Friday and to approach the empty tomb, and later, while walking, to meet the risen Lord.
          Through the practice of humility, and through emulating Christ’s washing of His disciples’ feet, you and I prepare to have, perhaps, on the Day of Resurrection not “happy feet,” but “happy souls.”  - Amen-                              


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

a healer and a cousin

my cousin cooking
i just finished, two weeks with an amazing person,
my cousin on my dad's side, from France.
I have never met her in person,
tho we communicated often by all technologies current means.
She is easy going and her presence was soothing to my soul.
I missed her as soon as she had left.
French, with French sensibilities,
my health responded to it.
Now to get better, so i can visit her!

a bit mixed up

i seem to be saying that,
a lot lately.
My heart begins with the older penitential rite
of the Anglican church:
"I acknowledge and bewail my manifold sins...
There is much going on,'preparation for a move
and i am finding those who drew close to me,
are sorrowful,
at my impending absence from their lives.
i have never been sure of such things,
i do not feel "worthy" of such love,
though i have always desired it.
My body has suffered many losses
and it is recovering,
faster and faster each week.
It was time for my heart,
which has also suffered greatly,
to heal also.
The hard shell that was built around it,
is softened
and so i feel more now.
The healing process,
is the same,
time.