Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Thinking about my July 4 sermon

I'm preaching at Trinity, Milton on July 4.

It is also my first official day as Priest-in-charge there.

A big day all around.

And I've been thinking about my sermon.

I'm not going to use the pulpit--I'll use the mike the soloist uses and stand on the floor. I want to be on their level because some of what I say might make some of them uncomfortable.

It's going to make me uncomfortable!!!

I want to say that patriotism is not 'love it or leave it'--it's 'love it AND fix it'.

We live in the best country in the world (though some of the Scandinavian countries attract me) but we have a myriad of problems--racial, economic, educational, socially--and we are deeply divided.

I'll be spending the next few days trying to put all that into a gospel frame.

Wish me luck.

Pray for me.

Pray for our nation.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Devil is beating his wife

That's an old West Virginia saying for when it is raining and the sun is out.

Bern was removing cushions from chairs on the deck and I felt the rain on my face and head and the sun was shining like crazy.

The Republicans in Congress are like the Devil beating his wife.

They are opposing bills that would help their constituints  left and right.

The sun is shining on the Biden administration.

But the Republicans are raining negativity at every step.

Remember when Congress worked together to serve us all?

I long for those days to return.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Mimi and Eleanor

 Mimi and Eleanor are here with us!

It's so great to see them. I love them so.

But on the second day of a  four day visit, I truly understand why we have children when we're young!

Bern does most of the play-time and I do book reading and TV watching with her.

It's very hot today so outside time was in the morning.

Mimi is doing her work most of the time. She'll go into NYC on the train tomorrow to go to the office.

Then Eleanor can truly run us ragged!

But it's 'fun' exhaustion....

Saturday, June 26, 2021


 Tomorrow I'm going to preach and celebrate at Christ and Epiphany Church is East Haven.

I've never been there but have Mapquest directions.

I'm doing it as my last supply priest job before becoming the priest at Trinity, Milton (1/4 time).

My good friend Mary Ann Osborn is the priest at C & E, so I'm filling in for her.

We'll see how it goes.

I know next to nothing about the congregation. But my sermon isn't political, so it should be ok.

I'll let you know what happens.


Friday, June 25, 2021

Mimi and Eleanor are coming to visit!!!

 Eleanor is off from pre-school so she and Mimi are coming to visit on Sunday.

Tim will stay home, getting a break from family and Mimi will take the train to work one of the days they're here. She's worked from home since Covid came, but goes into her office in NYC for a day ever two weeks or so.

Having them here will be a joy! Bern and Eleanor do Face-time several times a week--but 'in face time' is better.

They'll be here on Sunday.

We had invited John and Sherry and Jack for a BBQ that night even before Mimi told Bern she'd like to see them.

The three of them go to the beach with Bern and Mimi and Tim and Eleanor and I. We're going in late August this year after missing last year.

I can't wait for them to arrive.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Sunday's sermon

JUNE 27, 2021 _”Talitha, cum…”


       Desperate times, I’ve heard it said, call for desperate measures. When nothing else has worked and all seems hopeless, people are pushed to the last resort and to wishing for miracles.

          And nothing is more “desperate” than a terminally ill child. Nothing else calls for such desperate measures.


          First of all, we meet Jairus.

          Jairus is not one of the typical folks who followed Jesus. He is, Mark tells us, “a leader of the synagogue”. Jairus is so troubled and upset that he throws himself on his knees at Jesus’ feet and begs him for help. It is the action of a desperate man—and especially desperate for a man like Jairus.

          Remember, Jairus is a leader of the synagogue—a proud, respected member of the Jewish leadership. He is an educated, orthodox man. And Jesus is an itinerate teacher just over the edge of respectability—viewed with suspicion, if not outright distain by the Jewish authorities. Jairus risks everything—his position, his influence, his respect in the community—to throw himself at the feet a rabble rouser, a man with no credentials who associates with sinners and outcasts.

          It’s not hard to understand what would drive Jairus to such desperate behavior—his “little daughter is at the point of death.”

          For Jairus, everything else has ceased to matter. Only his child is important—nothing else. He implores Jesus to help him…he begs for his child’s life. Nothing else is important.

          So Jesus sets off with him—pressed upon and jostled by the crowds that follow him every where.  Jairus is a desperate man—he is pushing through the crowds, clearing a path for Jesus. Jairus has hope again. The strange, powerful, unorthodox ‘rabbi’ has agreed to help him.

          (But the woman with hemorrhages touches Jesus as he walks through the crowds and is healed. Jesus felt the power go out of him, but when he hears her story he tells her to ‘go in peace, and be healed of your disease. Another case of desperate times calling for desperate measures!)

          But Jesus is apparently off on a fool’s errand—the cause is hopeless, already the little girl has died…and the messengers meet them on the road.

          “Do not trouble the teacher further,” the people from Jarius’ home tell him, “your daughter has died.”

          Desperation is replaced by despair. Hope dies. Jarius is crushed, defeated ultimately.

          But above the wail of mourning beginning in Jarius’ soul, Jesus whispers to him: “Do not fear, only believe.”

          (BELIEF isn’t intellectual—in the head. It is more akin to TRUST and TRUST comes from the heart.)

          But Jesus may be asking too much. How can Jesus expect Jarius to put away his fear and pain and suffering and loss? How can Jesus expect a parent who has just gotten word that his child is dead to maintain hope, to have faith, to trust? And yet, somehow, Jarius keeps walking. His heart is surely breaking within him, but he puts one foot in front of the other and goes on, leading Jesus through the crowd, directing Jesus to the bedside of his dead daughter….


          This is what St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth: We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

          Did we hear that correctly? “During a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part….”

       AFFLICTION and JOY are not terms we associate with each other. POVERTY and GENEROSITY don’t go together in our thoughts. Paul must be confused and mistaken in saying the Macedonian churches found “joy” in their “affliction” and “generosity” out of their poverty.

          Yet we know it was true. Paul had been asking the churches that he had founded to take up a collection—to raise money—to support the poor Christians of Jerusalem who were suffering from a famine and recession. The churches of Macedonia were, if anything, worse off than the church in Jerusalem and Paul had exempted them from making a contribution. Yet, they insisted and their contributions were the largest of any!

          The Macedonians “did not fear, but believed.” They gave to the church in Jerusalem, not out of their circumstances but out of their trust in God.

          GIVING brings joy out of affliction. Giving brings generosity from poverty. Trust conquers all fear.



          Jarius was broken-hearted and hopeless. But he put one foot in front of the other and took Jesus home to see his dead daughter. Somehow, in all his pain, Jarius “trusted” the strange, somewhat dangerous Teacher.

          When they arrived, the household was full of tears and wailing and Jesus said to them—“Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”        

          The people were stunned by how heartless and cold that was. To make fun of Jarius’ grief. They laughed in scorn at Jesus. And somehow Jarius still trusted this man and led him to his daughter’s death bed.

          Then he simply handed the little girl back to her parents…Talitha cum—“little girl get up”, he said. And she did.

          Never was such joy born of affliction. (generosity of poverty).





Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Caro Ramsay

Bern and I have been reading the novels of the Scottish author, Caro Ramsay.

She writes police dramas and her two main characters (male and female) are Anderson and Costello.

Reminds me of Abbot and Costello, but I don't know if she knew about them--people younger than me might not.

There's lots of Scots stuff--some of which I have to look up on line--but also lots of wondrous detective drama.

We haven't read them in order but when we get them all (9, I think) I may read them again, beginning at the beginning.

If you like mysteries and Scotland, you should read Caro--she's a gem.


Monday, June 21, 2021

Good News for a change!

 I got my car back today. It was the serpentine belts, whatever those are, both had broken. Less than $300.

He had told me the worse case would be repairs would cost more than the car is worth.

Thank goodness for blessings.

But I still may look for a new car--a small SUV so we won't have to rent one to go to the beach in August.

But on the bad news side, why are Senate Republicans united against the Voting Rights bill that would open the polls to all who are qualified?

Oh, I know.

Stopping minorities from voting would help them and the states who are passing voter restriction bills would be easier for them to win.

Jesus, how divided is this country???


Pray for unity in some way, shape or form.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

West Virginia Day

Today is West Virginia Day.

I've written about my birth state lately--some not so good.

But June 20 in 1863, West Virginia divided with Virginia to be a free state and stay with the union.

Something to celebrate!

Bless them for doing that.


I feel like homemade s***!

When I got to Trinity, Milton today, my car was running a little hot and the battery light was on.

After the service, Mark, who lives in a different part of Cheshire from me, offered to follow me home.

My car died and I pulled over and told him I would have to wait for a tow truck and since he had an event to attend, he should go on.

I got back in the car. It started and made it another 4 miles or so before dying again.

I put some coolant I had in it, waited 15 minutes and it went another 4 miles before dying again.

I was outside Watertown and called AAA.

They said someone would be there in 30 or 35 minutes, so I set out to find someone to come and get me. Three misses--even Bern wasn't home and doesn't usually travel with her cell.

Triple A gave the driver the wrong directions so it was almost an hour before he got there.

Route 8 is a pretty busy road, so an hour of cars whizzing by at 80 or so was disconcerting and concerning.

In all that time only one person pulled over to see if he could help. He gave me a bottle of water and wished me well. His name was Brian--I always like people named Brian! 

It reminded me I should stop when I see people in trouble on the road--like Brian.

I wasn't supposed to ride with the tow truck driver but he wasn't going to leave me on a busy highway, so he took me to the shop. As I was with him I finally got Bern on the phone and asked her to come to Watertown and get me. She put the address in her phone and came to a McDonald's next to the shop.

I hadn't eaten anything all day and it was 1:40 when she got there.

A few weeks ago, I decided I'd give up my cell phone and Bern talked me out of it.

Praise God for her doing that. I don't know what I would have done today without it.

When we got home I got 'Father's Day' calls from Mimi and Josh that lifted my spirits.

But I still feel beat up and like what I mentioned in the title to this blog. That was a saying where I came from, don't know about CT.

Happy Father's day....


Saturday, June 19, 2021

If I ever eat McDonald''s again... will be too soon.

    I took some really bulky items to the laundry mat for Bern the other day--things she didn't want to put in our washer. It was just after noon when the wash cycle started so I went up the road to McDonald's--though I hadn't for years--and got a cheese burger and a milk shake. The cheese burger made me feel a little queasy though I only ate half of it.

    I came home and told Bern. She said she hadn't eaten anything from McDonald's in 20 years.

    I don't blame her.

    So, why was it so popular in my youth?

    Going to McDonald's was like going to church--something good for you and to raise your spirits.

    Has it gotten worse or has my taste changed that much?

    I'm glad I didn't get a fish sandwich because I love fish so much (fixing Cod loin for dinner tonight) and would hate to be put off fish.

    I may not ever have a hamburger that Bern or I didn't fix again--although I had a Wayback Burger not long ago and it was wonderful.

    What where and what you eat.

Friday, June 18, 2021

I'm still a Mountaineer

 As upset as I am with the politics of West Virginia--I'm still a West Virginian.

After over 40 years of living outside the Mountain State, I can still do my West Virginia accent if you ask me.

Accents in the wrong places and every sentence ending at an upbeat--like a question. I can do it. It will make you crazy.

My life in West Virginia was full of wonder.

I met Bern in high school. I wandered the mountains alone. I loved the people I knew. I was kept safe there.

I went to college at W.V.U. and loved every moment of being in Morgantown. Both our children were born in Charleston.

So, in spite of the Republican take over of my once Democratic state and in spite of my home county going from 100,000 in my youth to 24,000 today, in spite of the poverty and right-wingness of it all--I'm still a Mountaineer.

I miss the West Virginia of my youth and young adulthood. 

It will never be back.

Alas and alack.

But I'm still a Mountaineer!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sunday's Sermon

(if you go to Trinity, Milton, DON'T READ THIS!!!)



Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads here.

          I’m thinking today of my son and son-in-law who are the fathers of my wondrous four grand-daughters.

          And I’ve been thinking all week about my father, Virgil Hoyt Bradley, who grew up on a turkey farm in Monroe County, West Virginia.

          When he moved to McDowell County, West Virginia to be a coal miner, he told the cook at the boarding house for miners that she had given him the best chicken he had ever eaten, she told him it was turkey. He wouldn’t believe her until she took him in the kitchen and showed him the carcass.

          He had never tasted turkey—you don’t eat the cash crop.

          He had an eighth-grade education, but was one of wisest men I’ve ever known.

          He was a life-long Republican in what was then a deep Blue state. How things change as time passes.

          He enrolled in the army and was a corporal in the engineering battalion of General Patten’s troops. He spent the war building bridges for Patten to drive his tanks across rivers and then blowing the bridges up.

          He once told me, when I asked why they blew the bridges up: “General Patton told us we weren’t coming back!”

          There’s lots more I could tell you about him, but we need to get to the Sea of Galilee.


          The Sea of Galilee was not a ‘sea’, it was a lake and not a big one. 46 square miles of water very susceptible to sudden storms.

          Imagine being on a first century boat on a lake when a tropical storm came up.

          Imagine waking up the only passenger who was asleep and telling him they were all going to drown.

          Imagine that person calling out to the elements of nature and calming the storm.

          Wouldn’t you, like the disciples, wonder “who that guy was that the forces of nature obey him”?

          Who is this? Who was Jesus?

          That, by the way, is the name of this sermon—Who Was Jesus?

          I typed, “Who Was Jesus?” into Google and got—are you ready for this?—266 million responses!

          I only read one of them—about eight pages—but it had 566 footnotes!

          People have been wrestling with Who Jesus Was? Since the 2nd century.

          Scholars and theologians have struggled for centuries to distinguish between “the Biblical Jesus” and the “historic Jesus”, without much success.

          The Jesus we know from the New Testament and from the early Christian writing that are called ‘the Sacred Gnostic writings” that didn’t make it into the canon of scripture established by the Council of Nicea in 325 a.d.

          I brought a copy of the Gnostic writings to show you how much we know about the Biblical Jesus.

          The ‘historic Jesus’—we don’t know much about him.

          There’s a joke about how the archaeologists of Pope John 23rd came to him with bad news—they had found Jesus’ body.

          “This terrible,” the good Pope said, “we must tell the world, but first I’ll call the Protestant Theologian, Paul Tillich in Chicago and tell him.”

          The Pope and Paul (who called God ‘the Ground of Being’) were on the phone, “Bad news, my brother,” the Pope said, “we’ve found Jesus’ body.”

          There was a long pause and then Paul Tillich said, with a sigh of relief, “My God, he really lived!”

          So, “Who Jesus Is?” cannot be answered with any certainty. It all comes down to ‘belief’.

          In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus asks his disciple ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they answer that some people say, John the Baptist, but others say Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

          Then Jesus says, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answers, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God”—and Peter becomes the Rock the church is built on.

          It all comes down to ‘believing’.

          “Believe”, literally translated, means “to live as if…”

          So, in the end, “who Jesus is” depends on who we ‘believe’ he is—who we ‘live as if’ he is.

          That puts a lot of pressure on you and me.

          “Who do WE say that he is?” What do we believe about him? How does he help us to live our lives?

          That is what we must always be asking ourselves, “Who do I believe Jesus is?”

          And how do I live ‘as if’ he was my brother, my friend, my savior, my Lord and my God?

          That’s the question we must always be asking.

          Always asking.

          Always believing.

          It’s up to us.    



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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.