Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's That Flag?

This Tuesday we celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew, of which more may be read on The Coracle that day,  Since he is the patron of Scotland, the "lion rampant" will fly from the Rectory this week.

Also, if you're bored with your own sports teams [as am I, rather typical for a fan of the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers, not to mention the Princeton Tigers football team], I would strongly recommend following the travails and triumphs of the "Old Firm", information about which may be found here and here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Week In History

December 1, 1170: Banished earlier by king Henry II because he sided with the church against the crown, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket returns, electrifying all of England. Henry orders his former friend's execution, and Becket is slain by four knights while at vespers December 29.

December 2, 1697: St Paul's Cathedral in London, designed by Christopher Wren, is dedicated. It replaced a medieval cathedral at the site that had burned in the Great Fire of 1666.

December 2, 1859: Militant messianic abolitionist John Brown is hanged at Charles Town, (West) Virginia, for his attack on Harper's Ferry. He was convinced that only violent action could end the horrors of slavery. [Brown was born in Torrington. -ed.]

December 2, 1980: Three American nuns and a lay churchwoman are killed by death squads in El Salvador. Some 70,000 Salvadorans are estimated to have died because of terrorists or civil war during the 1980s, including many Catholic clergy. [One of the victims, Sr. Dorothy Kazel, was a nun whom I knew and with whom I worked. Coincidentally, I had just started reading a letter from her when I was told of her death. -ed.]

December 3, 1833: Ohio's Oberlin College, the first coeducational college in the United States and one of the first to offer education to blacks, opens. Its unique character was formed as a result of the revival movement of Charles Finney, who later served as president of the school.

December 4, 749: Greek Orthodox theologian and poet John of Damascus dies near Jerusalem. The last great doctor of the Greek church, he wrote comprehensively on the theology of Eastern Christianity and fought against those who wanted to rid the church of icons.

December 4, 1093: Anselm, called "the founder of Scholasticism" and the greatest scholar between Augustine and Aquinas, is consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury.

December 4, 1930: In response to the Anglican Lambeth Conference [that's us, folks], which cautiously approved birth control, Pope Pius XI issues the encyclical "Casti connubii." Though the document condemned any human effort depriving sex of "its natural power of procreating life," it tacitly legitimated the "rhythm method".

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The First Sunday Of Advent

Due to historical experience and the realities of life in the desert, the Jews of the First Century were extraordinarily prepared to "read water". Of this, and of other seasonal realities, we shall hear tomorrow along with an appreciation of Scottish and Japanese fishing techniques.
The lections may be found here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Phytoplankton Bloom Off The Coast Of Namibia

This is the natural color of the bloom, as captured by a NASA satellite.  More here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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, since Princeton isn't playing on Thursday.  [Besides, Princeton's own mama doesn't watch Princeton play football these days.] Or maybe that DVD of Endless Summer I or II.  [If you use one the links below to access your Amazon.com web page, your subsequent purchase will result in a donation to Christ Church representing 4%-6% of the price.]

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

[Today in Huntington Beach, California, the high temperature will be 56 degrees with cloudy conditions. The surf forecast is poor/fair.]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Work Continues On Roxbury Field

The coaches, yes, the coaches, of our local Cal Ripken team were busy placing the Christ Church Sod on the field this past weekend.  Every step takes up closer to spring.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christ The King

This week Jeremiah notes the importance of David's lineage, the Colossians learn of spiritual inheritance, and Jesus re-defines kingship.  All this plus pray for the poor guy to whom I gave driving directions last time I was in Cleveland.

The lections may be found here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Altar Guild Annual Meeting

Carolyn runs a tight meeting.  She was, by the way, "pleased".  We also had twelve members of the Altar Guild in attendance.  Hmm, I wonder why?

A compelling discussion on candle wickcraft.

The mystery box.

The mystery box revealed:  It's our new Advent blue set for altar and clergy adornment.  Just wait until the last Sunday in November.

And now, lunch and conversation on an unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday afternoon.  What could be better?

The Altar Guild has done everything well during the past year plus two months and I'm grateful.  A luncheon is the least I can do for such devotion and care.  Thank you all.

A Scottish Blessing

Be ye our angel unawares
If after Kirk ye bide a wee,
There's some would like to speak to ye,
If after Kirk ye rise and flee
We' all seem cauld and still to ye.
The one that's in the seat with ye
Is stranger here than ye, maybe.
All here have got their fears and cares,
Add ye your soul unto our prayers,
Be ye our angel unawares.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Now This Is Real News

The 19-foot wooden surfboard

[Photo courtesy of Surfer magazine.]

Archaeological News

Robot used to explore ancient tunnel at Teotihuacan ruins, 1st for Mexican archaeology

Mayans converted wetlands to farmland

[Sorry, but there is little news from the world of Biblical Archaeology this week, so I thought I'd post a couple of articles relating to what was once my field in Meso-American study.  Also, robots!]

We're Now On Facebook

Well, I am and that's where I've been spending the bulk of my Internet time [all thirty minutes a day] lately. If you follow this link, you'll find some information and insouciance from time to time.

Sorry about the fewer postings in this medium, especially as the diocese now reads it on a regular basis, but the world of electronic communication keeps evolving and we keep pace with it to the best of our ability.

For fun, though, check out cousin Annie Clements playing bass with Sugarland on the Country Music Awards the other night [she's the young woman on the far right with the big cream-colored Precision Bass with tortoise shell pickguard]:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Obituary Of Note

Barbara N. Crocker of Brookfield passed away peacefully on November 1, 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Born in Brockton, MA, Mrs. Crocker was the daughter of the late Elmer B. Nelson and Marie Pepin Nelson. She graduated from Brockton High School and the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene at Tufts University in Boston , MA She is survived by her husband The Rev. Dr. George N. Crocker of 34 years; three children: Karin Face of Wilmington, DE; Joan Bengtson of Boston, MA; and David Bengtson of Bridgewater; two step sons; Darin Crocker of New Milford, and Drew Crocker of Durham; son-in-law Dean Face of Wilmington, DE; daughter-in-law Dorothy Wyant Crocker of New Milford; three grandchildren: Kyle Crocker, Stephen Face and Caroline Face, a sister Susan Holmes of Tampa, FL; first husband Paul J. Bengtson of Weston; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by a brother, Alvin Nelson. Mrs. Crocker worked as a dental hygienist in Father Panic Village in Bridgeport and later in Danbury for many years. An avid quilter, gardener, and reader, she was an active member of the Scraps Quilting Group, The Brookfield Garden Club, and The Purple Circle Book Club. She attended the Bible Study Fellowship for many years. She was a devoted mother who cherished her children and grandchildren and loved to spend time with them whether at family gatherings at home or vacationing with them in Maine. During her first marriage to The Rev. Paul J. Bengtson, Mrs. Crocker was an active member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Brookfield and made many lasting friendships there. Later she worshipped at St. Paul’s Church in Brookfield for 32 years. Since 2004 she attended Christ Church Quaker Farms in Oxford, where Fr. Crocker is currently serving as Priest-in-Charge. She was genuinely loved and known by her many friends for her kind and generous spirit. Barbara had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. In each church she attended, she found a ministry.  Altar Guild, choir, first communion instructor for children or various women's groups and was a significant part of the spiritual direction of her church. Her unique gift was to "welcome the stranger." She always made newcomers feel accepted. While on retreat, she received ministry for Baptism in the Holy Spirit and manifested gifts of the Spirit in her work for the Lord. A Vigil will be held at Saint Paul’s Church from 3 to 5 pm and 7 to 9 pm on Friday, November 12, Route 25, Brookfield. Friends are invited to attend. A Requiem Eucharist will be celebrated for Barbara on Saturday, November 13, at St. Paul’s Church at 10:30 am. Interment will follow the service in Saint Paul’s Memorial Garden.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Work Continues....

While more photos may be found on Facebook, I ask you to behold the new corner of the rectory's living/dining room, reclaimed as it was from a disintegrating bookshelf and some tenacious mold.

All Saints' Sunday

This week Daniel is not quite in the lion's den, the Ephesians learn of spiritual estate law, and Jesus introduces the nature of paradox to the earliest, not-quite-yet Christians.  All this plus "Fiddler on the Roof".

The lections may be found here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Traditional Celtic Blessing

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine upon your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near to you and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Some Community Events This Coming Week

A [gourmet] pizza dinner is being offered at the Senior Center this evening beginning at 5:30pm.  Call for reservations.

A meeting for parents concerning the Christmas Pageant will be held on Sunday in the parish house at the conclusion of the 10am liturgy.

A luncheon for veterans will be held on Thursday [which is Veterans' Day] at 1pm at the Senior Center.  I am told that approximately 180 veterans live in Roxbury; if you know of one, please pass on the invitation.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls' Day

We actually now refer to this holy day as the Feast of All Faithful Departed, in part because Anglicanism does not carry a theology of purgatory as does the Roman theological foundation for this day. I regret that I have lost the source for the quotation below, coming as it does from an old notebook, especially as it is the most succinct appreciation of today's theology that I've ever found.

"Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God's presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death."

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints' Day

In the faith's early days Christians solemnized the anniversary of a martyr's death at the place of his or her martyrdom. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. By the fourth century, neighboring dioceses began to transfer relics and join in a common feast. In the persecution of Diocletian, the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each so the Church, determining that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all.

This practice originally began in Antioch. At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honored by a special day. Other saints were gradually added and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established.

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.