Friday, March 4, 2011


5Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
   '6Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:  7And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.   8Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
   '9And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.   10Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
   '11Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate..." (Isaiah, 6)

I promised you some examples of real, live, everyday people who are economically comfortable and are living lives outside their country, away from their kindred and outside of their fathers' house.  Just like Abraham.

The 40+ year old parish secretary
The 80 year old factotum (general gopher)
The 72 year old Internet epistolier

The 40 year old secretary
A widow with three children.  Very pretty lady.  Was given a clerical job at the church when she was really at her wits, and dollars ends some 9 or 10 years ago.  Has gone for continuing and polishing education.  Has taken some serious Canon Law courses at the diocesan headquarters.  Has had a chance to get more lucrative work but has opted to serve God.  She discovered that she can help people by participating in the county's "alternative sentencing" program.  She screens people who are referred by the court to work off light sentences by doing social service work.  Those who fit the profile, she accepts by writing to the court and offers them general labor work in and around the church for the duration of their sentence.  I wish I could get her to talk in public about her "ministry."  The stories that she has would make a stone cry.  She tells me that she is not ready for marriage.  She likes being married to God and His community.

The 80 year old factotum
Truly away from his country, far away.  Retired military.  Loving wife also a "send me" disciple.  Always present.  Always moving.  Always self-effacing while being gently assertive.  Respected by all, including the inhabitants of the rectory.  Has done it all, and is still doing it all.  He is the living proof that God has a sense of humor.  He is a person who has been able to perform no matter who the pastor has been.  He serves God, not the pastor.  There are pastors who could take lessons from him.  He is the John the Baptist of the place.  Fortunately for us, he hasn't met his Herod yet.  Nor his Salome.

The 72 year old epistolier
This is a guy whom I know fairly well.  50 years married to the same woman.  I think about half that time he had his mother-in-law living in the same house.  He loved it, and not just because he had a handy-dandy baby-sitter at hand.  He and wife have five children, one with special needs.  The rule in their family is "don't hope for miracles, expect them."  Not only do they expect them, I have known them to make them happen for some of us who haven't learned God's ways as deeply as they have.  He left the seminary, physically, but never left the mission.  He never took back his "Send me!"  He has had more spiritually meaningful "gigs" (he's an actor!) than I can enumerate.  More than I have.  Over the last few years he has maintained a daily column of reflection and meditation for a fairly extensive online mailing list.  He's always writing, and he's always writing under the unblinking eye of the Word.
Last year, he was the God-sent sacrament of Divine Presence in our house, helping me to recuperate from a challenging illness.  He didn't take the pain away, he moved it from general agony to split sides and sore nostalgic muscles.  He hastened my ability to stand, yes stand again, like a real man, while using the ceramic depository for kidney waste.  After celebrating that great moment, he went back home, but not without leaving the Spirit of The One Who sent him in the house.

See, there are some of those around.  I could keep you here for a long time, but you get my drift.  It is not the money, it is knowing that love is for God and His people, not George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton ( I think I forgot one).  Remember what Jesus said to the emissaries of John the Baptist, "...the blind see, the lame walk and the deaf hear."  That's where it is to be found, Discipleship and You can't take it ($) with you.
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