Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Simon Says "Remember the Little Woman"

In today's lectionary readings from Luke 4:38-44 we read about the
healings at Simon’s house:
"After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them."

The untold story of Simon Peter's wife is left to our imagination, although there is at least one legend written by Clement of Alexandria. This is hinted at in the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Simon settled in Capharnaum, where he was living with his mother-in-law in his own house (Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38) at the beginning of Christ's public ministry (about A.D. 26-28). Simon was thus married, and, according to Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, III, vi, ed. Dindorf, II, 276), had children. The same writer relates the tradition that Peter's wife suffered martyrdom (ibid., VII, xi ed. cit., III, 306). Concerning these facts, adopted by Eusebius (Church History III.31) from Clement, the ancient Christian literature which has come down to us is silent. Simon pursued in Capharnaum the profitable occupation of fisherman in Lake Genesareth, possessing his own boat (Luke 5:3).

Concerning the manner of Peter's death, we possess a tradition — attested to by Tertullian at the end of the second century (see above) and by Origen (in Eusebius, Church History II.1)—that he suffered crucifixion. Origen says: 'Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer'."

I have not been able to find in Clement's Stromata the legend of Peter's wife's martyrdom although the Catholic Encyclopedia references it. This may be because I speed read through the Stromata and I may have missed it, but here is what was posted at Bible Path
"Concerning the last hours of his life, it is said that when Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, 'O thou, remember the Lord.'"

We can only imagine her life with the Apostle, and I will not speculate as to any possibilities of what that life was like, but as with many of the untold stories of the Bible, she should be remembered as a real person.

"For all who have died in the communion of your Church, and those whose faith is known to you alone, that, with all the saints, they may rest in that place where there is no pain or grief, but life eternal, we pray to you, O Lord.

Lord, hear our prayer."

Litany for Ordinations p 550 BCP

B(ishop) S(earch)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Reality of the Resurrection

Yesterday I watched "I Married a Monster From Outer Space" (1958) on TCM. You may remember the story line. Aliens come to Earth seeking women and a new home, but oxygen is poison to them and they hide their bodies in human forms, mere shells that can be easily pushed over once the creature strips down to its original form.

What does this have to do with church?

Stay with me on this one.

This Sunday's sermon was delivered by the Rev. Mary Cat Young (she admits the new name will take some getting used to). After briefly touching on her collection of Jesus "Kitsch,"

(Available via link at Ship of Fools)

She based her homily on Luke 24:36-48.
"While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'"

The reality of this event was clearly noted by Mary Cat. It is clear that she believes this and is a "witness" to us in the "congo." Her last question, "And what do you believe?" should be a signal to all of us to go back and read the testimony in the scriptures and decide once and for all if we believe in a physical Resurrection. And I'm not talking about the resurrection fern,

but in the hungry risen Lord, showing himself and asking for a bite to eat. Not a mere shell or outer covering as in the movie "I Married a Monster From Outer Space." The real event was terrifying, but comforting, startling, but true, and we are wedded to this resurrected Jesus.

Let me rephrase Mary Cat's final question to read, "What have we gotten ourselves into?"

Jesus Shaves (Also at Ship of Fools)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Story of Shadrach

Found in Daniel 3 is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego which was the assigned daily reading for today.

Daniel 3.19-30

Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace to be heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counsellors, ‘Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?’ They answered the king, ‘True, O king.’ He replied, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.’ Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!’ So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counsellors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics* were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

One of my favorite songs as a youth was this version of the story by Louis Armstrong.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Christian Maintenance

"If words are to enter men's minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men's defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds."
- (From Here by John Bertram Phillips)

I attended a meeting the other day, and one of the attendees made the comment that when we are caught up in the passion of current events that we should not forget our first love. This being a group of concerned Episcopalians, he was referring to our love for God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that love that was given to us by God. When someone surrenders to Christ and is "saved," what happens next? How do they maintain that initial passion and keep the flame going for the rest of their life? This love, if true, can never be "lost." The human experience of a lost "first love" suggests that the desire, the yearning, remains present, and can be rekindled even after decades of separation (although sometimes with disastrous consequences when people reconnect with their first human lover). Similarly, I think that the love of God we first experience upon our conversion may be laying dormant in many of us as we live our lives out in the day to day "maintenance phase" of faith.

This maintenance phase of faith is not unlike many long marriages. The Church probably has more people in this phase of life than any other. How do we nurture these folks? We (Our Saviour) are not a church that holds tent revivals or such events to gin up the congregation (although we did do the "Faith Alive" thing a few years back).

Can we ever expect to be so in love again as to relive that conversion experience on a daily basis?

If you need advice, you might consult with J.B. Phillips' advice for the lovelorn like I did.

Due to it's length I have shortened the following from J. B. Phillips on Christian Maintenance , but in the spirit of J. B., read the whole thing.

"In order to live a life of New Testament quality, we shall find it necessary to work out some kind of practical plan to keep us alive and sensitive to the Spirit of the living God, which will keep us supplied day by day with the necessary spiritual reinforcement, and which will help us to grow and develop as sons and daughters of God. It is unfortunately only too easy to slip back into conformity with our immediate surroundings, and to lose sight of the supra‑human way of living, except perhaps as a wistful memory... It is quite simply because we are surrounded by unreal and false values, by a pattern of living divorced from and unconscious of spiritual realities, that we have to take time and trouble to maintain supra‑natural life, even though that life is in the truest sense the natural one. Experience shows that Christians whose lives are illuminated by the new quality of living, only maintain that inner radiance by taking certain practical steps.

The first essential need is for quiet... It is imperative that somehow or other we make for ourselves a period of quiet each day... if we see the utter necessity for this period of quiet, our ingenuity will find a way of securing it... daily quiet we simply must secure, or the noise and pressure of modem life will quickly smother our longing to live life of the new quality.

Prayer has so many aspects that it requires much longer treatment than I can give it here, and I will only mention three which seem to me the most important. The first is the value of worship...
The second important point I should like to make is that in our prayers we should not merely confess our sins and failures to God, but claim from Him the opposite virtue...
Thirdly, I should like to stress the value of intercession for other people...

It is very noticeable in the New Testament records of the early Church that Christians existed in fellowship... Even though, judging from the evidence of Paul's letters, it was not very long before factions and "splinter groups" arose, yet the overall picture is of the Young Church standing firm...

...All this means that a very large part of our Christian maintenance will consist of joining in with the fellowship of the Church, in its prayer and worship, in its work and service. Many people who profess to be Christians are very irregular worshippers. I do not think they can possibly realise how they weaken the cause of the Church, and in addition starve themselves of Christian fellowship. Many people appear to be convinced that they can lead good lives without committing themselves to Church attendance or the fellowship of the Church.

Again, if the Church is to make any worth‑while impact on the surrounding community, if it is even to speak with a voice worth hearing, it must have the active committed support of all true Christians. I repeat, I do not think that the many delightful casual Christians whom I know have the slightest idea how they sabotage the power and witness of the Christian fellowship by their haphazard attachment to the Church.

Sharing our inward lives, then, and joining in the fellowship, worship, and service of the Church, are essentials for Christian maintenance.

Very close to them in importance lies the habit of regular Bible reading. Countless men and women throughout the centuries have found their inspiration and nourishment for the Christian life in reading the Word of God. Now, I am not at all sure that our modern way of living is suited to the old‑fashioned methods of Bible study...

...This intelligent reading, particularly of the New Testament, will keep alive and alert our inmost spirits. The sacred pages are truly inspired, not, I believe, in any "verbal inspirational" sense, but because they contain the Word of God or, in case that is a meaningless cliché, they contain truths of the Real World in the language of this. Again and again we shall find ourselves challenged, convicted, inspired, or comforted by truths that are not of man's making at all, but which are bright shafts of light breaking through into our darkness.

Closely allied to intelligent Bible study lies Christian reading... There are many Christians today who from one year's end to another never read a Christian book. They have little or no idea, for example, how Christianity is spreading throughout the world, of the triumphs and disappointments of the world‑wide Church...To be brutally frank, they are very ignorant both of the history and of the implications of their Faith. In other departments of life they may be highly competent, efficient, and knowledgeable; but over this, the very heart and centre of their true life, they are frequently abysmally ignorant. These are, I know, harsh words, but the Church could be infinitely more powerful as God's instrument for the establishment of His Kingdom if its members were better informed in their minds as well as more devoted in their hearts."

How I long to rekindle that lost love, for then I will be forever loving God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul. It won't come quickly, it may take a long, long, long time.

"It's been a long long long time,
How could I ever have lost you
When I loved you.

It took a long long long time
Now I'm so happy I found you
How I love you

So many tears I was searching,
So many tears I was wasting, oh. Oh -

Now I can see you, be you
How can I ever misplace you
How I want you
Oh I love you
You know that I need you.
Ooh I love you."

"Long, Long, Long"
George Harrison 1968

Ignoring the "be you" line in Harrison's song, there is such a Love that is dear in so many ways that it bears reliving over and over again.

This love comes at a dear price, but the price has already been paid for us without our even asking. So why do I feel guilty about accepting His gift of love? Perhaps it is pride, the pride that won't accept something unearned. Pride interfering with Love's free gift. Part of the price we have to pay is the giving up of our selves, our pride, in order to regain our first love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bishop Search 6

This week the people of the EDUSC will be completing a survey. This will help the Bishop Search Committee in making a profile with which to compare with the profiles of the candidates for Bishop. I have just completed the survey. This survey is not like the namby pamby open ended survey presented by the Dio of Rio Grande which I will summarize here:

What works well in our diocese?
What does not work well in our diocese?
What skills/experience should our new bishop have?
What personal attributes should our new bishop have?
What personal attributes should our new bishop have?
Where is God calling our diocese?
What challenges do we face in answering that call?

Instead, we were asked a range of questions including some on how important it was to have SSBs or SSMs. Questions on how important it was to have a Bishop committed to the Windsor process may have been over the heads of some of those surveyed. It is an amazing sign of the times that we would have to ask if a Bishop should be monogamous, undivorced, and committed to the creeds and liturgy, but recent results from other Episcopal dioceses point the need for these questions as I noted in a previous post about the selection of the Rev. Thew Forrester in Northern Michigan.

The survey is an important step in the process of calling our next Bishop, but there will be further steps along the road. So if your favorite question was left on the cutting room floor like mine was, you might get another crack at it when you meet the candidates.

The Rev. Mary Cat Young

At the 10:30 service today we were honored to participate in the marriage of the Rev. Mary Catherine Enockson and Mr. Chad Robert Young. The church was packed with friends and visitors for what was a wonderful service. A reception followed in Lumpkin Hall.

In Christ's name we humbly pray that the Lord bless them and abide with them always.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Love... (fill in the blank)

From Nova Scotia Scott via Transfigurations comes this article from Discover Magazine The lead title says "The End of Divorce, Growing numbers of people marrying inanimate objects." The article then describes two happy marriages, one between a woman and the Berlin Wall and another between a woman and the Eiffel tower. The article goes on to explain this attraction (Objectum sexuality),
"Objectum sexuality affects mostly women, who develop affection for objects ranging from computers to national monuments to model space ships. The cause of OS—or the psychology behind it—is not understood: Some medical experts believe it is a type of paraphilia, or unusual sexual interest or disorder; others believe it may be indicative of a history of sexual abuse.

According to certified sexologist Amy Marsh, however, it could be a new sexual orientation. Marsh has surveyed a community of people with OS and said, 'What I’m finding is not much history of sexual abuse, and actually not much in the way of psychiatric diagnoses either. I’m finding they’re very happy, and they don’t want to change. I am also finding out that quite a few of them have a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome or autism, but not everybody.'"

Hey, they even have a web site that I love, "Objectum-Sexuality Internationale." This site contains some helpful information such as,

What is OS?

NOTE: There is little known about OS other than data our community has gathered from our personal relationships with objects. So we are not claiming to have any clinical basis, only the practical knowledge gained from each other. We welcome and currently seek professional input and study in regards to OS. We are not looking for a cure but more comprehension into our make-up as an emerging part of society.

Objectùm-Sexuality is an orientation to love objects.

Sexual orientation is defined as the nature of sexual preference while the prolific definition stands as: the direction of someone's sexual desire toward people of the opposite gender, people of the same gender, or people of both. This does not include objects.

However, orientation itself is defined as: a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways. This does include objects as we see it.

We love objects and many of us in an intimate way and this feeling is innate. Objectùm-sexual love comes for most in a similar awakening as other sexualities at the start of puberty. This is often followed by an acute awareness that we do not relate to peers due to the source of the projected feelings. Often objectùm-sexual people feel outcast or pressured by mainstream sexuality with a helpless feeling that we cannot change what comes so naturally.

What is the natural feeling of OS?

Just as mainstream are attracted to certain types of people, physical/intellectual, objectùm-sexuals feel a strong attraction towards objects possessing, in particular, certain geometry/function. Often this attraction is regarded as an obsession to a degree that provokes criticism.

What makes OS different from an obsession?

Truly there is not much difference. Love is a feeling that preoccupies one's thoughts. This in its own right describes a degree of obsession where all focus is on the one desired. An obsession is based on an extreme keenness for an object and that defines the significance. However, the difference for objectùm-sexuals is our love and attraction for the object is what devotes our interest to a level that appears merely obsessive.

"How can one love an inanimate object?

Indeed, the meaning of love comes into question. However, there is no single definition because this feeling has many levels and crosses every part of the spectrum. Virtually every one and every thing can be loved. Love does not have any rules that requisite to whom or to what we express this multifaceted emotion, as long as it causes no violation or harm to the subjected.

The spectrum of love is so vast; one may relate it to a bell curve. In the middle will certainly appear the majority of those whose relationships can be characterized by the similarities to whom and how they love. And at one end of this curve, that is where Objectùm-sexuality finds its place. While we have no firm numerical data, we are clearly a minority which facilitates the criticism of our way of love and life. But none-the-less, we still fall under the curve of the enigmatic emotion known as love.

OK, so the question isn't answered for those who strongly believe that love must be reciprocated to be in and have a relevant relationship. Naturally, if one sees objects as inanimate, then objectùm-sexual love and our relationships would undeniably be scrutinized. Indeed, there are cases of love being one-sided as with any orientation, but in general we do feel love in return."

The natural question for this blog is, "When will the O.S. people be brought into "full inclusion" in the Episcopal Church?

And, "How is this supposed to end divorce?"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Running Jesus

The long period of Lent and Holy week is over and Easter Morning reminds us, as Fr. Foss pointed out in his sermon today, that the one person absent from today's Gospel lesson is Jesus. Charlie used the expression "running Jesus" and then described the Rev. Ronal King's ministry. The Rev. King is someone whose motor is always running, and he is not afraid to tell you what brand of gas he uses to fill up his tank, "Praise the Lord!" One minute he is there, and then after an hour or so he is gone, most times with some of the rector's discretionary fund. I wonder if Fr. Foss was suggesting that Jesus is always in the lead, leaving His followers guessing where He will be going next. We know where to find the Rev. King, out finding the poor and feeding them, and he sure knows where to find us, sitting in our pews, hopefully doing our own little ministries. No we can't all be Ronal King, but I sure am glad he touches us up every now and then.

Happy Easter and Praise the Lord.

Click on the cartoon for the full view.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Judge Not

In a recent announcement, President Obama has appointed Emily Hewitt to be the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The announcement from 03/23/2009 reads,

"Judge Hewitt has served on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims since her confirmation by the Senate in 1998. At the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Judge Hewitt has handled cases in all areas of the Court’s jurisdiction, chaired the court’s Rules and Building and Space Committees and served on its Management Committee. In 2006, she was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve on the Financial Disclosure Committee of the United States Judicial Conference. Prior to her appointment to the Court of Claims, Judge Hewitt was appointed general counsel to the General Services Administration during the Clinton Administration. Judge Hewitt, born May 26, 1944, in Baltimore, is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B. 1966), Union Theological Seminary (M. Phil 1975) and Harvard Law School (J.D. 1978). Before entering government service, Judge Hewitt practiced from 1978 to 1993 with the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow, where she chaired the firm’s real estate department from 1987-1993. A leader of the effort to open Episcopal ordination to women, Judge Hewitt was one of the first eleven women ordained to the Episcopal priesthood on July 29, 1974."

An earlier post on this blog briefly referenced the "Philadelphia 11" as being held up by today's Church as a shining example of how the Episcopal Church allows culture to lead the Church and settles disputes by breaking rules rather than by taking the path of humility and patience required to change rules. That path would have wound through careful study of scripture and tradition and led to true discourse and resolution, a path that may have wandered in the desert for forty years. No one wants to keep hearing that the promised land is just over the horizon. It is far easier to revolt, and that is what happened on July 29, 1974.

What was the big deal back in 1974.
("Suzanne Hiatt was the chief architect of the Episcopal women's ordination movement.")...

"Hiatt says that the Philadelphia ordination was intended to make it more trouble not to ordain women than to ordain them. 'In retrospect, to have been ordained 'irregularly' is the only way for women to have done it,' reflects Hiatt. 'Our ordination was on our terms, not the church's terms, it was not accepted as a gift from the church but taken as a right from God.'"

(Taken as a right from God!!!)

The Philadelphia eleven's ordination was not authorized by the Episcopal Church. Two years later, the General Convention accepted it as a "fait accompli" and moved on.

Now this is not the only rule that the Hon. Rev Hewitt chose to break because she is reportedly,
"...married to attorney Eleanor Dean Acheson."

And where did her ordination lead her? Not to a lifetime of ministry. Straight to law school it seems as she graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978. And, according to The Living Church,

"She is canonically resident in the Diocese of New York, but served in parochial ministry for only a few years as an assistant at St. Mary’s Church, Manhattanville, after ordination."

It sounds like she was really serious about the W.O. thing.

All right, this is all just ancient history isn't it?

I wonder, how can a nefarious rule breaker such as the Hon. Rev. Emily Hewitt make judgements against rule breakers brought into her court? Will she be consistent in her modus operandi and tend to rule in favor of the unlawful?

Recently we have seen rulings in favor of the "hierarchical church" in "property disputes" of churches pulling out of T.E.C. see the Anglican Curmudgeon's pages coming out of several courts. Oh, but that one of those cases could go to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. What a tortured decision for the Hon. Rev. Hewitt. I mean, would she recuse herself because she disdains the Church's authority and might side with the departing church, or would she recuse herself because she is an ordained Episcopal priest in which case she might be biased and favor her Presiding Bishop? Applying the Anglican Curmudgeon's principle of the use of fuzzy logic to the religious left, the Hon. Rev. Hewitt would simply stick with her M.O. and let the end justify the means.

Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Passiontide Passiontune

This Sunday was another blessed Sunday without a sermon. In its place we read the passion narrative according to Mark. This day always leaves me with that strange sadness mixed with hope. Hope for the love God has waited to share. I apologize if I get sentimental, but I heard the words to an old song in a new light as I noticed the colors draping the cross changed from purple to red.

(Chicago, Essen Germany Feb. 1977)
"As time goes on
I realize
Just what you mean
To me
And now
Now that you're near
Promise your love
That I've waited to share
And dreams
Of our moments together
Color my world with hope of loving you"

James Pankow

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Suspension of Disbelief

Press Release-TECNEWS-UP 04/01/2009

In an surprise move, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, Katherine Jefferts Schori, will announce her resignation today. In a letter to the House of Bishops Jefferts Schori outlines the rationale behind her decision.
"After much reflection and discernment, the Holy Spirit has decided to once again redirect me into areas that would never have seemed possible to the unenlightened mind. I hereby announce my formal resignation to be effective April 15, 2009."

In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Jefferts Schori stated,
"It was during the preparation of my upcoming Easter message on 'Jonah, Darwin, and the Incredible Mr. Limpet' that I was overwhelmed by this incredible feeling of longing to return to the sea. Just like in my earlier career as an oceanographer that I first felt the call to walk on dry land, it is now in my role as Presiding Bishop of the most important Protestant denomination in America that I am blessed to receive this new call. I am naming it the 'call of the deep.'"

Balancing a beach ball on her nose she continued,
"One of the great joys I have experienced as Presiding Bishop has been the wonderful sense of progress in unity towards the Church Universal Triumphantly Trumpeting Her Royal Ornaments And Tridents."

After reminding her that critics of her goal had labelled it by its acronym C.U.T.T.H.R.O.A.T. , she tossed her head back adroitly propelling the beach ball into a basket and said,
"In every healthy body there must exist the many parts. It is through the love of Christ that we are held together, so that when the hand tells the fin to cut off the tail, the head intervenes and says, 'No you don't, you evil hand, you may be part of this body, but I can cut you off and replace you with a fin.' In this way I myself have been evolving like the Church itself into a new creation. My evolution is nearly complete and the time for my return to the sea draws near."

I asked if there was any unfinished business that she would like to complete before her departure, and why did she choose April 15, 2009.
"I have been asked to perform one more official act as a minister of the cloth before I shed those human vestments. As you are aware, the Bishop V. Gene Robinson has announced his resignation. This was a surprise to all of us, but he says he was called by the Spirit to abide by 1 Timothy 3:2 and I reluctantly accepted his version of the truth. The bigger surprise was his engagement to marry the Rev. Susan Russell, and they then informed me that they wished for me to be the officiant of their marriage. I told them that I was honored, and I have chosen to preach from Psalm 69,
'Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.'

I will be sure to include verse 34," she added.

"Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them."

"But why the date?" I inquired.

"The couple chose the night of April 14, which I am sure will be a night to remember, for historical reasons which escape me right now, but I believe you can find suitable references on the Internet.
I shall be doffing my robes and slipping under the waves myself shortly thereafter."

Thanking her by tossing her a smelt, I flew to the nearest cyber cafe to be the first to post this exclusive story.