Thursday, April 30, 2009

Perhaps what we were thinking

but didn't have the gumption to say out loud. The Anglican Curmudgeon fisks Judge Lebous.
Here's a little taste:
For the latest example of such a judicial shortcut, see this decision by Judge Ferris Lebous in the lawsuit brought by the Diocese of Central New York against the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton. Earlier, Judge Lebous granted summary adjudication to the Diocese on its claim to own by forfeit the parish's real and personal property after the parish voted to leave the Diocese. (Never mind that there were not enough parishioners remaining to allow the building to stay open; it's the principle of the thing, don't you understand? "People may leave, but buildings stay put, even if they are empty. We can always sell them---but not to those who left, you understand---and put the cash to good use in suing other parishes for their property.")

By granting summary adjudication, Judge Lebous necessarily found that there were no facts in dispute that needed a trial to sort them out. No, all was clear from the respective affidavits submitted on either side.

A Great Comment over at SF, and a Request for Prayer

Chancellor, over at Stand Firm, posted this very helpful comment last night, concerning our current situation at Good Shepherd.

A propos of “turning my Father’s house into a market” (John 2:16, referenced in the good Bishop’s sermon), the recent decision by Judge Ferris Lebous in the case of the Diocese of Central NY against Fr. Matt’s Church of the Good Shepherd ( provides a textbook example of how to misconstrue motives. As I read the Judge’s rather cursory opinion, the parishioners of Good Shepherd are to be punished by further legal proceedings for having the temerity to decrease---nay, even withhold---their voluntary contributions to the Church while the Diocese sought to confiscate all of its property and assets in a lawsuit. The Judge says that he is “troubled” to find that parishioners stopped putting money into the collection plate beginning about April 2008, and that this decrease meant that the parish “was doing everything it could to spend down the assets, divert new income, and perhaps even actively interfere with the Diocese’s right of ownership.” (Bold emphasis added.)

Could any words more appropriately convey the sense of what Jesus was doing when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and ordered the dovesellers to get out? Notwithstanding the Dennis Canon, which expressly states that all parish property is to be used for the benefit of the parish while it remains in ECUSA, Judge Lebous (and apparently the DCNY, which asked him so to find) thinks that a parish has no right to spend down its assets if parishioners stop contributing because the Diocese is suing them to get all their property. Instead, the poor parishioners must continue “business as usual"---making their Sunday contributions as though nothing was wrong---all the while that the Diocese plots how quickly it can take over everything they have.

Under this view, a parish is nothing more than a local business which finds itself on the “market” once the Diocese sues it, and must continue with its “business” as though nothing was wrong (pending its confiscation by the Diocese). But this “market” is completely rigged from the get-go by the Dennis Canon: “heads ECUSA/the Diocese wins, and tails you (the parish) lose.” So by all means, suckers, keep putting your money in the plate, otherwise the Court will see to it that you have to spend even more money to explain why you weren’t overjoyed to do so while you were being sued.

Not only that, but we will find you blameworthy of even daring to think that you might have a right to take certain property which you donated to the Church when the Court orders you out on just a few days’ notice. For that property was not donated to the parish, don’t you see? No, it was donated to the people who were suing you---because you are a Christian, are you not? You are supposed to give the people who are suing you the shirt off your back, and then to be ashamed that you didn’t think to leave them your coat, too.

The problem with Judge Lebous’ thinking is that it requires Fr. Matt’s parishioners to live fully up to the Christian ideal while it rewards the DCNY for insisting on the terms of a very un-Christian, unilateral contract (once you join our church, all your property is ours when you leave) that the parishioners never knew about or assented to. (Cf. Bishop O’Neill in the recent Colorado case: “Oh, we don’t expect the average parishioner to know anything about the canons.") Well, Matt is fully up to the standard laid on him by Judge Lebous. If you want a perfect example of Christian charity while under siege for all that you have (and then some), you have only to read the letter Matt+ wrote to his parishioners ( explaining why they had to hand over all the things they thought were theirs to control, and to let the Diocese have all that it wanted. Blessings upon you and your parishioners, Matt+ --- you have set an example for all Christians to emulate, and have demonstrated the simple truth of our fathers’ adage: “A good example is the best sermon.”

I want to particularly ask for prayer that we as a church, and me in particular, would be able to maintain a steady calm in the ongoing roller coaster of this legal mess. After an unhappily cold winter, and the pain of sudden loss, and the difficulty of a complete move in a short time, we are settling in brilliantly and contentedly to our new house and church. The swing set is up, the older children are eager to study and learn, Romulus has stopped asking to go home every day, the baby is her cheerful exhausting self, and we need to keep our eyes fixed forward, on Jesus, and on the work he is giving us to do. I need a super natural miracle to maintain a steady spiritual life as daily we continue in this battle waged against us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For those of you who often forget to read the Good Shepherd Blog

Please go check out this letter that Matt has just written to Good Shepherd. We finally got word from the Judge concerning the Brennan Estate. Not surprisingly we lost. But the decision was troubling on other respects, and Matt deals with that in the letter. Please do check it out, and please also pray for the Episcopal Church, for the Judge, and for all those who so desperately need the grace and truth of Jesus in their lives.

Odds and Ends

Gladys has just gotten into my make up and made herself up into a garish and strange looking baby. Got most of it off, for which she was Very Angry with me.

Have my first appointment and ultrasound today.

Kitty much better, though not perfect. Still don't know what's wrong with her.

Been quietly freaking out about swine flu. So easy, while falling asleep, to imagine thousands of people falling sick in the streets of Binghamton. Trying not to be ridiculous about it.

Busy day. Probably not much time for blogging.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Something Catchy for a Monday

Stand Firm has posted this lovely and moving song which is super catchy to boot. I was having trouble with it loading all the way and began casting about on youtube and found the official video (not for very young viewers). You probably still want to watch in on stand firm for the words which are not on the video here.

The song is about a man who was gay and worked through it (with the help of a beautiful woman) and stopped being gay. What I particularly like is that he didn't seem to go in for the psychotherapy and all that (not that that's at all a bad or unhelpful thing) but rather was honest enough with himself to examine his past and present and find that he wasn't in a good place. And then, of course, the beautiful woman was a great help. It seems to be a classic case of homosexuality--domineering mother, distant and unavailable father equals sexual identity confusion.

Baby in a Box

Friday, April 24, 2009

And Because I Just Can't Stop Blogging

(What is my problem today!!!)
This is my new favorite thing ever.

h/t Et Tu Jen

Update on My Cat for those who care deeply

I took her to a different vet last night. They saw me the day I called and were very professional and helpful. They ruled out, pretty conclusively, the idea of a blood clot, and then I did spring for an XRay which came up normal (thank heaven) and some blood work, about which I will find out tomorrow. This vet suspects diabetes or some such something. Anyway, I spent a bundle but not the moon and came home a lot more cheerful. ALSO, she's really not in pain. She doesn't feel well, but she doesn't hurt which makes us all feel Much Happier.

And for clarification, this is my big white kitty (Siamese/calico I found out last night) and not the kitty who was lost and found. I really need to go take a picture of her. She has beautiful blue eyes and she's enormously fat.


for the election of the new Archbishop of Kenya going on today! Pray Pray Pray.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Note to my Mother

All my emails to you are bouncing back. ALL of them. Been emailing for hours.

Weekend in Review (many days late)

So, I think I had the flu. For a few days I thought it was the worse pregnancy ever (well, it still is that) but turns out I was actually sick. Couldn't even barely stand up. Wept piteously over my cat who has been lying in my closet looking at me with disdain as I keep trying to shove medicine down her throat. She's really not better at all. Think I'm going to try for a second opinion.

Anyway, I had Fully Intended to blog on Sunday evening as we had the most exciting weekend on record for some time.

First of all, on Saturday, we had two funerals. Its moments like this that we're delighted to live only ten steps from the church.
Saturday Evening, Elphine, Alouiscious, a very charming friend and I all went to the Symphony to hear Bram's Requiem.
Here are some of us all dressed up.

It particularly fitting to listen to this Requiem after two funerals. The music was wonderful, and I carefully followed the translation in my booklet and found Bram's exposition of the scriptures to be both moving and comforting. Unfortunately, we were in the very front row and so while the sound was Amazing, Elphine and Alouicious couldn't see barely anything. However, they were golden and quiet and only whispered very loudly a couple of times.

Saturday we celebrated Alouicious' birthday again along with his very good friend who also turned five this week.

An excellent time was had by all, and when the party was over at church, the Real fun began here at home, where several friends came over to play in the back yard. Funnily enough, as all the adults were sitting around catching up, we noticed a young man come out the back door of the church. Matt, without saying a word to anyone, leaped out of his seat, flew through the back door, jumped over the fence, and chased the young man back through the church, into the church parking lot (which was hidden from us and so we found all this out later), down the street to the river, back up onto the main road, where, with the help of two sensible quick thinking men from the church (one of whom helpfully had a motorcycle) apprehended the young man in someone's front yard. The police were called and arrived within minutes and promptly arrested the gentlemen (which is rather too nice a word) who had several outstanding warrants.

Matt walked back home and sat back down in his chair, slightly more rumpled, and resumed his glass of wine. We realized that he had removed his collar but was still wearing his jacket and black clericals and so the young man might not have known he was a minister but might possibly thought he was someone involved with law enforcement, heh. Turns out Matt had seen the young man Saturday evening, while we were at the Symphony, standing in our back yard gazing into someone else's house (a young woman, in fact, with whom he was already emotionally entangled and whom he had been calling obsessively). Matt chased him off then, but when he came back to do it again on Sunday afternoon, it was enough. We've so very grateful he was caught and this young woman will have a break from him. He begged and begged to be let go before the police arrived, but Matt and the other men said that wouldn't be possible, though they would certainly visit him in prison and hopefully minister to his many needs and problems.

Further excitement was had when a police officer came into our back yard to scope out the route and make contact with the young woman. It was certainly one of the Best Birthdays ever, themed and everything (Cops and Robbers or Police Officer Arrives at the Scene) and all the little boys especially were totally thrilled. Elphine now has a list of rules for her room pasted to her wall, number thirteen of which reads 'No Criminals Allowed in my Room'.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Everybody Else is Blogging

What is it about Fridays an blogging?
I've been up for hours, hours and hours. Gladys waddled her chubby legs into my bed with her large bottle, pressed her enormous head into my neck and proceeded to beat on me like one of those new fangled cage fights where everything goes and you have to tap out when you've had enough. Couldn't move because I had another child pressed squarely into my back, one on top of my feet, and a large cat sitting on my chest. Matt looked on in wonder and amazement and finally asked if I'd like some hot chocolate before he went to Bible Study (can you believe that I looked at the clock at 3:45am and then looked at his pillow and realized he was already up for the day-crazy). I persuaded them all to go watch Between the Lions while I vaguely read the Bible for ten minutes and then, in a fit of wickedness, abandoned it for an old battered copy of Anne of Green Gables. Finally got up and made everybody pancakes. Its only 9 in the morning, but Elphine has unloaded the dishwasher, she and Alouiscious have cleaned their rooms, everybody is dressed except for me, and they're all gazing at me expectantly, like I haven't done enough for them. I guess I will go clothe my increasingly hippo like body and take them all to the grocery store. By then I'll need a nap. And after that, if I can bear it, I'm going to move all the school stuff into the sun room and try to make a beautiful school space. Or whatever. Maybe I'll sunbathe on the lawn next to the church. Its that warm out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And There's More!

Would you like some tea with that?

I REALLY wanted to go. I so wanted to go. It is so disappointing to me that I couldn't, but my friends went, and had a marvelous time.
That's right, I have friends

About 300 turned out, from what I hear, and an excellent time was had by all. I, on the other hand, made various suppers, soothed the stormy masses and laid them gently to bed, listened with rapt and adoring attention to my brilliant husband, scrubbed my kitchen floor by hand, and took my prenatal vitimin so that this next baby will be really strong and smart and able to withstand the crazy politics of his (maybe her) day. In short, I upheld the conservative ideal in my own home. And on that note, I'm now going to go bake some bread and plant a garden (just kidding).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Showing Off

Happy Birthday Alouiscious!

He's Five Years Old Today!

At his own request, I'll be making Crepes tonight and probably we'll buy a fancy cake, and some other stuff. And then later, probably Sunday, we'll have a real proper party with hats and games.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The sermon I'll be preaching in three hours

As you know, we’ve recently been through a big move.
Most of the things from the church continue to be in storage,
as you would know if you were here on Good Friday
as we cast about for something black to wear—
all in storage—
come back next year and we’ll be wearing the right colors on the right days. And most of our household items are in storage,
which has been wonderful on the toy front,
and irritating when we remember that we have a jolly good blender
and the one I can find is not that one.
This has led me to complaining and sorrow.
I keep looking backward.
I’ve especially been thinking about the sunlight in our old house,
how it would flood in through the living room windows,
so bright and warm.
As I wrestle with my errant cat who isn’t using his kitty box as he should, and trying to tie up the curtains in my new living room to get some light, my mind’s eye casts back to the sun in that room,
and I find grief over take me like a wave.
So all week long,
beginning with my own husband saying wisely to me on Monday,
‘you must learn to be satisfied with this house,
you must exert yourself to be satisfied’,
and then on Wednesday as we read about the exile from Jerusalem, everybody having to go,
having to leave everything and go somewhere they didn’t choose to go,
but God provided for them,
and brought them back,
and gave them everything they needed,
to Thursday as we sang together Psalm 78
which hit me fairly like a spiritual brick of conviction.
17 But they went on sinning against him, *
rebelling in the desert against the Most High.
18 They tested God in their hearts, *
demanding food for their craving.
19 They railed against God and said, *
"Can God set a table in the wilderness?
20 True, he struck the rock, the waters gushed out, and the gullies overflowed; *
but is he able to give bread or to provide meat for his people?"
23 So he commanded the clouds above *
and opened the doors of heaven.
24 He rained down manna upon them to eat *
and gave them grain from heaven.
25 So mortals ate the bread of angels; *
he provided for them food enough.
They kept looking back.
They’d left slavery, for heaven’s sake,
and in the most miraculous and amazing way
God led them out in front of their enemies.
They pillaged their enemies.
All the people of Egypt gave them their gold and silver
as they ran away.
Their sandals and clothes didn’t wear out
the whole time they journeyed through the wilderness.
But still, they were in the wilderness,
they weren’t yet in the promised land,
and it was there that they sinned against God,
they were rebellious and ungrateful.
And so most all of them died.
The problem with the Exodus,
and with the whole Old Testament in general,
is that the people that God pushed through the red sea
and through the desert
and into the promised land,
whether they wanted to go there or not,
is that they had heard of the promise of God,
they knew something Good was coming,
but they never saw it.
Their hearts were still,
for the most part,
stone cold.
They saw God’s work with their eyes
but they did not perceive it,
they did not understand it.
They heard it with their ears but not with their hearts.
Those that hoped in the promise to come,
who sought after God with their hearts and minds
were few and far between.
They had real vision,
they saw into the future in hope
and knew that God was going to do something.
I always like to think I’d be that one person
with amazing foresight and faith,
like Hannah, or Esther,
or probably Isaiah’s mother.
But I discovered in the simple process of moving
from one end of Conklin Ave to the other,
that I’m really like the Israelites in the Wilderness—
not Moses and Caleb and Joshua—
all the other ones who don’t get their names mentioned
because they died before they reached the promised land.
Nearsighted vision,
short short memory,
low grade hearing,
dismal faith.
But all the time God was preparing for me,
for all of us deaf, blind, hardhearted, dead hearted complainers.
Turn, if you like, to Ezekiel 36, beginning in verse 24.
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries
and bring you into your own land.
All you with dusty feet and weary hearts,
wearied by the changes and chances of this life,
by the messiness of life that doesn’t order itself perfectly,
where problems are constantly rearing their irritating heads,
and there is either too much stuff or not enough.
God himself will take you, me,
from where ever we are,
he will gather us all up
and bring us into his own land.
He will sprinkle clean water on us.
We shall finally be clean from ungratefulness,
from looking backward,
from idols,
from clinging to things that don’t matter.
He will cleanse us and we shall be clean.
And he will give us a new heart.
The stone of a heart that we each have,
he will take from us and give us a soft heart,
a heart that can feel and see and hear
and understand who God is,
a heart that can be merciful and gracious,
even as God is gracious and merciful.
And he will cause you, me,
us to obey his rules,
to walk in his way.
He will cause us,
he will give us the great gift of gratitude
and contentment,
and forgiveness.
And in this new place,
this new life,
this clean new heart,
then we will dwell in the land
that God has prepared for us.
We will be his people,
and he will be our God.
I’m talking like this is all going to happen in the future.
Like we are still waiting around with Ezekiel, and Abraham and Moses, knowing what God is going to do,
waiting for him to do it.
Maybe some of you here tonight are still waiting for God to do something—knowing that he can,
but not being able to see and hear with your heart and mind
where he is
and what he is doing.
Its dark here tonight,
as we count away the minutes to the first day of the week.
That moment when the dawn rises
as the dark is giving way to light,
and the women,
stumbling forward in a wilderness of grief and exhaustion
from seeing their Lord die,
thinking that the hope for which they had hoped,
the promise they thought had come,
the messiah who was supposed to do for them
what was promised over and over again for thousands of years,
promised but never seen,
the women come to the tomb,
to the place of the dead.
And find that the waiting is over.
The waiting is over.
God did what he promised he was going to do.
He accomplished the salvation of all who believe and trust in him.
He came to do for us what we could not do ourselves—
to give us a heart that can feel,
eyes that can see,
ears that can hear,
and a place to dwell,
and place where all things come together,
a place where we are gathered together in beauty and peace.
Go ahead, look around.
That place is here.
That place is Jesus himself.
He is the place,
the hope,
the promise,
And as long as we dwell in him,
as long as we keep our eyes fixed on him,
as long as we walk in his way
and are his people
and he is our God,
we are very well indeed.
We dwell even now in the land that was promised.
as we go out from here into the dark,
into a town asleep to this Great Thing that has happened,
and stumble into our dark houses,
and back into the mess of life,
we might be confused into thinking that we are still waiting,
that maybe it was all a dream,
or that maybe it happened so long ago it doesn’t matter any more.
But our real heart of flesh puts those ridiculous thoughts to rest.
The Holy Spirit breathing and living in us will not let us remain blind
to the truth that Jesus died,
that he Rose again,
that he is even now alive,
living with us,
dwelling with us,
making us to be his people.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Here's what I've been listening to all day.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Maundy Thursday

The Easter clothes have arrived. Due to the great and extravagant generosity of Mimi, who knows a pretty dress when she sees one, my two little girls are twirling and dancing in their long twirly skirts. 'Eeeechaaaappeee' Elphine is singing as she twirls.

And I'm remarkably nauseated. I went to great lengths to go to the pharmacy yesterday to pick up a prescription for anti nausea pills graciously prescribed by my doctor, only to find that they made me very sick indeed. Fortunately, some other wonderful person is coming to watch the children this morning, so I will be able to sit here Very Quietly, not moving, not jostling, not, hopefully, throwing up, and working on some bulletins. Needless to say, I'm not even remotely considering cooking anything for the potluck tonight.

Most especially, on this beautiful sunny Thursday whereby we remember the new command of our Lord, that we love one another, I commend to your prayers one who has gone to be with that same Lord, last night, and who leaves behind a husband full of grief and sorrow. Her low and beautifully perfect alto voice in the choir I will always miss.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holy Week

The most important thing I have to do today is run my quarterly report over to the district which I was unable to do on Friday due to the shooting down town. I need to tie something around my finger, I think, because it keeps slipping out of my mind like an errant and forgettable marble.

But then, I have so many things to do I don't know which direction would be most efficacious. So I'm blogging. There are four sermons for the week total, four bulletins, five liturgies to work out in a new space, acolytes to call and encourage, Easter eggs to dye, an enormous pile of laundry to fold, and in the dimly lit recesses of my mind, I thought we might try to do some school. 'It won't be that busy' I said to myself last week. Hmm. Now I'm thinking that the children need some fantastical and wonderful project they can do independently every day while I grind out bulletins and maybe pitch in with a sermon.

Last year I seem to remember making a fabulous Indian Lentil dish last year for Maundy Thursday. This year maybe I'll boil a couple of potatoes and eat them by myself with nothing on them. Did you all know that there's a potluck this Thursday before the service? I didn't think so. So let me be one of the first to tell you that there's a potluck at 5:30 this Thursday before the service and I hope to see ou all there, even those of you who live no where near Binghamton.

Now I think I will vaguely wander off and consider which of all these things to do first.
May God make you more holy this week, and may you all be obedient to his suffering and go to church as often as you are able.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Not at all a Calm Friday

Matt was just on his way into town to turn in our home school quarterly report and was unable to get there as all the schools are in lock down and all of downtown is roped off due to this. If you have a chance to pray, please do.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Just a Calm Thursday Morning......

Crazed is actually a better word, Just a Crazed Thursday Morning. Every time I sit down to read the Bible pure chaos breaks out. Of course, when I sit down to the computer, everything becomes ominously quiet. Its almost as if Somebody doesn't want me to read the Bible! Well! I'm tougher than that. By gum, I'm going to get off the computer and read the Bible even if All Hell Breaks loose.