Monday, July 1, 2013

friends say the meanest things....good for them!

I was getting out of my car at the Veterans Cemetery in Middletown where I was going to inter the ashes of a woman I never met but her family told me so much about her that I loved her.

I wear sandals all summer but an interment seemed to me to demand shoes. So, I got out of my car and took off my sandals and reached down to get some loafers out of the well of the back seat and saw something that looked like a guest book under my back seat. I pulled it out and it was, in fact, a guest book that has been under the driver's side front seat of my car since September 19, 2009. It was the guest book for my 'roast' after 20 years as Rector of St. John's on the Green in Waterbury, CT. The program was a "Playbill" like you get at Broadway shows, with my face, looking appropriately disheveled, as I normally look, with my face surrounded by the words "Roast of the Rector".

It was an amazing night and I've wondered for almost 4 years where that stuff got to but only found it because I had loafers in the back seat of my car for an internment.

I read the list of names with great interest and was pained to see that perhaps 10 of those people have shuffled off this mortal coil since then. I miss them all.

But, besides the program and a news article from the Waterbury Republican that was an interview with me and others about the Roast, there was the script for one of the speakers--the first, in fact--to 'roast' me that night. It is the only night since my son's wedding that I wore a tux and I had a yellow vest just to draw attention to my odd dress.

So, I have the text of what Steve Minkler (who was Sr. Warden, Treasurer, all around major domo of the parish for the 21 years I was there. I retired, ironically, in April of the next year since I had 30 years in the Pension Fund and had decided that would have to be the reason I retired since I would have never left otherwise.

I wish I had a copy of what others said, especially what my wife, Bern, said, since she brought down the house several times and what Bishop Smith said. But Steve's is all I've got.

I want to share it with you because it is so mean and so funny and I'm glad I found it after these years. I will, from time to time, put in an aside {that will look like this} to explain some of the stuff  he said that might not be obvious.

So, here it is. Welcome to it.

It's an honor and a privilege to begin tonight's festivities by paying tribute to a man and  his many accomplishments at St. John's. This man is an outstanding individual whom I  am proud to call a friend. He is one of the best in the business and he's brought a lot of class to our parish and he inspires us every week through his work in God's church.

But enough about Bob Havery. {Bob was, and is, the Music Director of St. John's and very classy.}

Instead, we are roasting our beloved Rector, the Rev. Dr. Jim Bradley. And I'm her to ask THE question of the hour: Why are we giving this man a dinner, when some of the best-known men in church history never got a dinner?

Adam--who said to Eve, "Whaddya mean you got nothing to wear?".....never got a dinner.

Cain, whose wife divorced him because he wasn't Able....never got a dinner.

Simon Peter, who embarrassed the other disciples at the Last Supper by asking for seconds.....never got a dinner.

St. Paul, who said to the Corinthians, 'And now abideth faith, hope and charity; but the greatest of these is charity, because at least you can get a tax dedcution'....never got a dinner.

St. Peter, who died, went to heaven and had nobody there to meet him at the Pearly Gates....never got a dinner.

Nostradamus, who predicted he would never get a dinner....never got a dinner.

Ben Him, who said to Ben Hur, "If I do, I'll be Ben Gay".....never got a dinner.

Martin Luther, who, after putting the 95 theses on the door of the church, proudly said to his friends, "I think I nailed them!".....never got a dinner.

King Henry VIII, founder of the Anglican Church, who said to his second wife, Ann Boleyn, "Keep your head about you."......never got a dinner.

Rev. Dr. John Lewis, the Rector of St., John's from 1901 to 1940--(hey, Jim, come to think of it, that's 40 years, he should have gotten TWO dinners)--Dr. Lewis, who said on his deathbed, "How come I never got a dinner?".....never got a dinner.

Scott Moore, our Senior Warden {who is 6'7" or so} whose mother said to him, "stop looking down on your parents!".....never got a dinner.

Jay Anthony, our emcee--who had to leave the funeral home business because all his clients stiffed him....never got a dinner.

Bishop Drew Smith, who is retiring because, as bishop, he's tired of walking in a diagonal line....never got a dinner. (What, no chess players in the room?)

But seriously, we are here to give Jim Bradley a dinner because of his 20 years as the Rector of a remarkable urban ministry here in the city of Waterbury. St. John's is all about building community--16,000 or so people who come to worship services each year, 300 souls a day finding a good meal and much more in the Soup Kitchen, the countless baptisms, weddings and funerals, Americares, Outreach, our growing Hispanic congregation and yes, our famous 'bathroom ministry'--Jim continues to remind us that the Church is here to serve us 'where we are'. Jim, we are blessed to have you among us and blessed to have you as our Rector. Happy 20th anniversary!

{The 'bathroom ministry' was that there was, from time to time, concern about the street people and Soup Kitchen guests who would often trash the bathrooms of St. John's. At some point, I agreed to clean up whatever no one else was willing to clean up. And I did, more often than I like to remember....plumber's helper and mop in hand...I did my ministry, proud and humbled by it all....}

Thanks, Steve, for the memories....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.