Monday, November 30, 2009

Hymns For The Second Sunday Of Advent

Processional 59 Merton

Gradual 7 Ratisbon

Offertory 324 Picardy

Recessional 416 Lucerna Laudoniae

The Feast Of St. Andrew

Most references to Andrew in the New Testament simply include him on a list of the Twelve, or group him with his brother, Simon Peter. But he appears individually three times in the Gospel of John. When Greeks wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip, who tells Andrew, and the two of them mediate with Jesus (Jn 12:20-22). Before Jesus feeds the Five Thousand, it is Andrew who says, "Here is a lad with five barley loaves and two fish." (Jn 6:8f]; and the first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus (Jn 1:35-42) are Andrew and "the disciple whom Jesus loved" [John].

Having met Jesus, Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Thus, on each occasion when he is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is instrumental in bringing others to meet the Savior. In the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Saint Andrew is devoted to encouraging personal evangelism, and the bringing of one's friends and colleagues to a knowledge of the Gospel of Christ.

Several centuries after the death of Andrew, some of his relics were brought by a missionary named Rule to Scotland, to what is now known as St. Andrew's, nowadays best known as the site of the world-famous golf course. Hence, Andrew's association with the jewel of the British Isles.

According to pious legend, Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross, as represented on the design of the official flag of Scotland.

For those interested, the flag of the United Kingdom, the "Union Jack", is a combination of the crosses of St. Andrew [white x-shaped cross on a blue field], St. George, the patron of England [red cross on a white field], and that of St. Patrick, the patron of Ireland [red x-shaped cross on a white field].

Sorry, Wales and St. David. You got left out.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The First Sunday Of Advent

This week we change seasons [yay] from Pentecost to Advent and from the green liturgical color to that of Sarum Blue or violet as we begin to prepare for the Incarnation. To aid us in that, Jeremiah reveals his prophecy, the Thessalonians get a pat on the head, and Jesus interprets the signs. All this plus what happened the day I got a new Jesus in my classroom.

The lections may be found here.

[A word about the blue color in use during this church season. That shade, generally known as "Sarum blue", is based on that in use by the Celts in the days before Christianity was brought to the British Isles. In times of war and in holy seasons, faces would be painted with a mixture of roots and clay. It was also a common color in Celtic art.

After the arrival of Christianity, Sarum blue was translated from Celtic religion to the Celtic Christianity that developed nearly 300 years before the Church of Rome became dominant. I appreciate there are those who state that the color is evocative of Our Lady, and certainly Sarum blue has been used in that regard, and others who feel it's a cynical ploy on behalf of church supply companies to sell more merchandise. But the reality is that it evokes our pre-Roman heritage and serves as a reminder of the Celtic roots of our worship.]

Rectory Flag

This isn't an easy one to recognize, especially as it's not the official flag of Scotland [pictured below], but the unofficial, and rather insurrectionist, "Lion Rampant". Why don't I use the official flag? Because I don't have one.

Why is any flag of Scotland being flown? Easy. Monday is the Feast of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland and one of the lesser feast days in the Episcopal Church. This is particularly significant since it was not the Church of England that consecrated the first bishop of TEC, but three bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. For all of our Anglican pretense, we owe our existence to the Scots and trace our independent lineage from them.

More about St. Andrew on Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Surfer Soul Food For Thanksgiving

Since people ask me what we do for Thanksgiving [I know you're just being polite, but be careful what you ask for], there is a particular dish that I like to prepare to either delight or horrify those with whom we share the holiday. [If you're looking for a turkey recipe, you've come to the wrong place. We never eat turkey at Thanksgiving. What are we, a buncha Congregationalists?] The recipe and preparation instructions follow:

Surf City Curbside Fish Tacos


1 lb of fresh swordfish steak
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 doz corn tortillas
Vegetable oil or butter (optional, depending on how you heat your tortillas)
Lime Mango sauce [see instructions]
1 ripe Avocado
Cabbage or iceberg lettuce
Cider vinegar

Prepare the sauce. This can be done either the simple or the complex way. The simple way is as follows:

1. Go to Stop and Shop
2. Buy some lime mango sauce in aisle 6

You may use it as a marinade for the fish and then, with the addition of some sour cream, use the remainder as the sauce for the finished dish. Naturally, don't use the sauce in which the fish has been marinating for the presentation sauce. At least, that's what Jenni always tells me. What she doesn't know won't hurt her.

The more complex way is to do the following:

Place two ripe, peeled and pitted mangoes and some lime juice [two limes or equivalent] into a food processor and blend until pureed. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of cold water. Stir in one diced jalapeno with seeds and skin removed [unless you like four-alarm sauce, like I do, in which case toss the seeds and skin into the whole shebang] and there you go. Save it until taco construction.

Prepare the cabbage and avocado. Thinly slice the cabbage and put it in a small serving bowl, sprinkle it with cider vinegar (about a tablespoon) and salt (about a teaspoon). Mix in the vinegar and salt. Peel the avocado and remove seed. Chop and reserve for later.

Heat the tortillas. There are two ways of doing this.
1. Simply heat them in the microwave for 20-25 seconds on high heat, on top of a napkin or paper towel to absorb the moisture that is released.
2. Or heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan or spread a half a teaspoon of butter on one side of one tortilla. Place tortilla in the pan (butter side down if you are using butter). As the tortilla sizzles, flip the tortilla with a spatula so that the other side gets some of the oil or butter from the pan. Continue to flip every 10-30 seconds until the tortillas begins to develop air pockets, after about a minute. You can always skip the butter or oil.

Remove the tortilla from the pan and place it folded on a plate. If the pan is large enough you can prepare two or more tortillas at once. Continue until all the tortillas (estimate 3 per person) are cooked. Set aside.

Cook the fish. Soak the fish fillets in cold water for at least one minute. Pat dry with a paper towel. Heat a large stick-free skillet to medium high heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet. Place fish on skillet. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets. A thin fillet may take only one minute on each side to cook. A thicker fillet may take a couple of minutes. Fish should be still barely translucent when cooked. Break off a piece and test if you are not sure, or give it to your cat and see what he does with it. Do not overcook the fish. When done, remove the fish from the pan to a separate plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the plate of tortillas, fish, the sauce, cabbage, and avocados on the table and let everyone assemble their own. You go to a separate room where it's quiet and watch a football game. Preferably, Ohio State. Or maybe that DVD of Endless Summer I or II.

The staff of The New Coracle will be off-duty on Thursday and Friday of this week. Please have a pleasant Thanksgiving.

[Today in Huntington Beach, California, the high temperature will be 67 degrees with cloudy conditions. The surf forecast is poor/fair.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Important Safety Video

And you thought all firefighters did was wash trucks, lift weights, and play a little pool around the firehouse. Nah, they also teach about safety by making things explode in flames. Namely, turkeys.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pentecost Last: Christ The King

This week we hear David's final words, learn from John of Patmos what we may find at the beginning and the end of creation, and see Jesus bring a new form of debate to someone with a very Greek education. All this plus what Harry Pedicord said on that fateful first day of class.

The lections may be found here.

Stop Meeping!

I spent twelve years of my professional life as high school teacher, teacher/chaplain, and teacher/chaplain/administrator. One of the most important things to learn when working with teenagers is what to take seriously and what not to. One should come to realize that the jocular enthusiasms of the student body tend to be transient and silly, rather than harmful. They generally don't last very long, certainly not past a school vacation. There is no point in letting adolescent absurdity turn one into a humorless, scolding martinet.

It appears that the administrators at a high school in Massachusetts are still processing this understanding. The tale, sad is it seems, is told here:

Mass. high school principal bans students from saying 'Meep!'

I'm trying to imagine what it must have been like to be a parent, coming home at the end of the long, busy day, to listen to a "robo-call" informing you that your child and his/her classmates may not issue the sound "Meep" without receiving a substantial, official punishment. If it were me, I'd check the wall calendar to see it were April.

The story gets better when an attorney, seeing this for what it is, decided to send the administrators a one-word e-mail. That tale may be found here. [It includes law enforcement!.]

Something All Too Familiar

When Lutherans split

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Cold And Flu Statement

The other day I received a call from reporter at one of the daily newspapers in Connecticut. I find that I am in a lot of reporters’ address books since I have worked in so many communities in New England. What she wanted to know was whether I was going to stop dispensing the Holy Communion during the cold and flu season. I was tempted to point out that a priest excommunicating his entire congregation is something that I don’t believe has happened since the Middle Ages but, instead, I gave a ponderous historical response that ensured that I would never be quoted in an American newspaper.

However, I did speak to a professional about what would be best for us to do, a physician who specializes in infectious disease, and he said the likeliest way that H1N1 would spread in a congregation would be if I were so infected and handled the sacramental bread without first using anti-bacterial solution on my hands. Although I am not carrying the H1N1 flu at this time, I can promise the congregation that, during the general exchange of the peace, I will be unobtrusively in the vestry washing my hands in anticipation of the consecration of the elements.

Also, I would remind the congregation that there are three ways in which one may receive the Blood of Christ. The first, and most traditional, is drinking from the proffered cup. The second is to practice intinction, touching the bread not directly into the wine itself but to the interior wall of the cup [and not directly and deeply into the wine itself]. The third method, viaticum, is generally used either by those who are in recovery for alcoholism or intubated in a hospital bed, but is no less valid for use by those concerned about disease. With viaticum, the communicant simply touches the chalice while the priest or lay minister issues the words of ministration [“The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation” or similar expressions].

The Holy Communion will always be offered “in both kinds”, that is, in bread and wine, as that is a key feature of our tradition that has remained inviolate for half a millennium. So serious are we as a church about this feature that we are reminded that many of those who delivered the sacrament in both kinds in the early days of our tradition suffered remarkable punishments, all so that would have both the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord as part of the liturgy. I would also remind the congregation that another feature of Anglicanism is that we respect individual choices in this matter, rather than make choices on behalf of those who join us in worship.

Friday Photo: Huntington Beach

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Of "Those" Stories

Every once in awhile I read a newspaper story that causes my Christian serenity to be shaken. Mrs. Rector usually suggests that I mention it on The New Coracle rather than yell at the newspaper or television set.

This is one of those stories:

Union troubled by Eagle Scout project in Allentown

Here's the quote that got me: "'We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails,' Balzano told the council."

If this kid needs a contribution to his defense fund, put me down for a pledge.

Hey, I Bought Some Guitar Wood From These Guys..., I didn't. Must be the shoulder pain medicine that confused me. Is the FBI reading this?

Gibson Guitar plant in Nashville raided by feds

Actually Eating One Would Have Been A Class A Felony

Cops: Woman Hit With Cheesesteak

Maybe I Could Replace The Skateboard With One Of These

Amazing footage of kite surfers flying over Worthing Pier

Looks like everyone is getting involved with it:

The Angolan Kitesurfing Association has been founded

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quote Of The Week

From NYC papers' circulation offices raided

"Calls to the newspapers seeking information on whether the news operations were involved were not returned."

In other words, newspapers refused to return the calls of newspapers about this story. That would really be news if a newspaper said "no comment" to itself. Samuel Beckett would have loved this.

Feast Day Of St. Hilda Of Whitby

Hilda was, for all intents and purposes, the spiritual head of the Celtic Church in the days before our tradition was consumed by the Church of Rome [only to be liberated 900 years later]. Ironically, she also played a large role in the synod that determined that our tradition would be a part of Rome; something that is debated with much passion to this day.

More of her may be read here.

Ce que l'enfer est en place avec les Fran├žais?

French hamster hotel lets guests live like rodents

Glad I Usually Take The Garden State Expressway

Turkey on NJ Turnpike causes havoc, evades capture

When I Was A Clevelander, I Found It Best To Live In Cleveland

Survey: Israel best country for Israelis

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

HIstorical Note

According to early church leader Clement of Alexandria (c.155-c.220), Jesus was born on this day in 3 B.C.

Medical Update

Good news: minor wrist injury. Bad news: shoulder tendon damage. However, the skateboard is up for the season. Too bad, as I had just made it non-stop from the Senior Center all the way to the tennis courts.

Looks like I'm going to have to learn to type with one hand for awhile, too.

Here's what I'm asking Mrs. Rector to give me for Christmas.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Archaeological News

Discoveries of Polish archaeologists in a Byzantine basilica in Egypt

[Actually, despite this oddly translated headline, what was discovered were remnants of Christian life in an area near Alexandria. As far as I know, no Polish archaeologists were discovered at the dig site.]

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Hannah reminds us that the best of prayer is also the best of poetry, the Hebrews learn of the new, and never to be broken, covenant, and Jesus speaks directly about the calamity that is to come. All this plus a kindergartner's hand-me-down and its relation to a bunch of old vets on their day.

The lections may be found here.

Princeton - Yale

Yes, today the Princeton Tigers will get beat like a gong by the Bulldogs. Er, I mean the Princeton geniuses will meet the Yale thugs to let them win and appease New Haven's feelings of self-worthlessness.

At any rate, the orange and black will fly one more time from the rectory. I will also be sporting my "Beat Yale" hat during the day. I guess that's why I'm often called "Mr. Fashion".

[Frantic Update: Clearly, the Tigers experienced some form of psychic shift and dominated the field during the first half, enough to secure a 24-17 victory. It's the new, orange jerseys with the built-in hand warmer pockets, I'm sure. Actually, I think there's another reason, but that one I'm saving for a sermon in the not-too-distant future.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Obituary Of Note

David Lloyd, 75, Dies; Wrote ‘Chuckles’ Episode

I didn't know his name until I read his obit this morning, but the "Chuckles" episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, if you never saw it, was not only hilarious but a great examination of how people grieve.

To be reminded, or to know what the heck I'm talking about, just click on the three parts of the episode that appear below. Ah, the power of the Internet.

Friday Photo: Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, California

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Obituary Of Note [And Of One Of My Early Heroes]

One of the first smokejumpers dies at 98

A very good book about smoke jumpers is Norman Maclean's Young Men And Fire. Maclean was also the author of the better known A River Runs Through It. Either may be purchased by clicking on the icons below with 4% of the purchase price donated by to Christ Church.

And It's Kosher, Too

Glowing report for gefilte fish

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Feast Of St. Martin Of Tours

I appreciate the recognition of Veterans' Day today, but the church calendar also marks two individuals who contributed mightily to the progressive work of Christians over the last seventeen centuries.

The Episcopal Church recognizes St. Martin of Tours. Martin, in addition to being a bishop, was also trained in medicine and law. In Christian art and iconography he is frequently pictured holding three bezels representing the three academic disciplines.

He is primarily noted for an action in which he engaged before his ecclesiastical career. When he was a soldier, upon observing a beggar freezing in the winter temperatures, he cut his own cloak in half with his sword so that it might be shared with the unfortunate man. At the end of the day, in a dream, Christ came to Martin wearing half a cloak. This vision encouraged him to become a Christian. He died on this date, it is thought, in the year 397, after working to establish a sense of Christian justice in the still largely-pagan area of Tours.

Our brothers and sisters in The Lutheran Church recognize the great existential philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, today. Kierkegaard, who lived from 1813 to this date in 1855, was loath to present in his philosophy a concrete explanation as to the mystery of life, and acknowledged that embracing mystery often lead to fear. Because of the absurdity of existence, rather than in spite of it, we find a way to abide with God. [That's the really, really short form.]

Unless You Have A Heart Of Stone...

...this will make you misty: a collection of videos of soldiers being welcomed home by their dogs.

The Episcopal Church's Press Release For Veterans' Day:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Maybe Reproductive Education Is Part Of The New Healthcare Bill

First Lady: People ask my mom, 'What did you do to create Michelle Obama?'

I Don't Often See Films These Days... I don't want to take out a bank loan to watch computer drawn images of destruction or chemistry-free young actors pretending that they're deeply in love by insulting one another for two hours or by inferior re-workings of plots from much better films. [Oh, yes, I can be opinionated. I learned it from St. Paul.]

But this one I just can't miss:


More like this please. Until then, I'll be in Ransom's Tavern [aka the rectory basement] watching Lawrence of Arabia for the umpteenth time.

For Those So Inclined

How To Help Fort Hood Victims, Families

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

This week, Ruth seeks a "kinsman-redeemer", Jesus' role as mediator is refined for the Hebrews, and I suspect that the disciples had a bad day at the giving bay. All this plus what happens when you don't have reservations.

The lections may be found here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today's Rectory Flag

It was a little hard to take this shot, as I was facing the sun and the wind is too strong to allow the flag to stay at rest. Still, this is to commemorate an important birthday this coming week, not to mention the introduction to another important date on Wednesday.

["Whatever It Takes"]

[BTW, if I had a US Army flag, given yesterday's events, it would be flying. This one will suffice to represent not only the gift of all veterans in the past, but that which they continue to offer; not just in foreign lands.]

Celtic Morning Prayer

Thanks to Thee, O God, that I have risen today,
To the rising of this life itself;
May it be to Thine own glory, O God of every gift,
And to the glory of my soul likewise.

O great God, aid Thou my soul
With the aiding of Thine own mercy;
Even as I clothe my body with wool,
Cover Thou my soul with the shadow of Thy wing.

Help me to avoid every sin,
And the source of every sin to forsake;
And as the mist scatters on the crest of the hills,
May each ill haze clear from my soul, O God.

[Above is the Lake Isle at Innisfree, made rather famous by the poem of the same name by Yeats, which appears below.]

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 10
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Archaeological News

Archaeologists find 120 coins from the Revolt era

[The second revolt era took place approximately a century after the Crucifixion and 60 years after the first revolt, the one which resulted in the destruction of the Temple and events at Masada.]