Sunday, December 31, 2006

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

The tail end of the year is as interesting as the tail end of the buses here in Panamá. Actually, I've always found the end of the year to be kind of anti-climatic. I'm getting ready to head over to the church for the Watchnight service, and realized that this is my last chance to post this year. The Dance Party has only been around since the end of October, but there are already people who visit every day. I want to thank those who have become part of the community here: Matty Boy, my friend for the past twenty-odd years (and some of those years were odder than others), the kings of the Global Center, Leonardo and Luiz, Madpriest for his advice and music criticism, the Susans: Sue S. and Tía Sue, la Reverenda Caminante, my daughter Tara Mobley, el Almirante, ePiscosours, Eileen the Episcopali-fem, Faddah Kurt, Faddah John Kirkly, Father Jake, ALL the lurkers (my favorite being the lurker from "unknown country") and the Lovely Mona who is very patient and a great photographer, too. Thanks to everyone for your comments here. To anyone whom I have forgotten, perdóname ¡Feliz Año Nuevo a Todos!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Padre In A Funk (And Not The Good, James Brown Kinda Funk)

Cute Overload, as always!
I haven't done any blogging today because I've been upset about the execution. I'm surprised that it bothered me so much. I guess it's because they (the Iraqis and U.S.) were in such a damn hurry to kill the man. That really troubled me. However, the life of a priest is a busy life, so I haven't spent a lot of time stewing. Mona and I went and rehearsed with the Coro de Jovenes. We practiced the Christmas Carols for tomorrow morning's service, and then Stille Nacht in four languages, which they will sing at the Watchnight Service tomorrow night. I have spent a great part of this week focusing on the Watchnight Service; it's a pretty big deal here. I really like it because the majority of the folks attending usually go to a party after church, so they are really dressed-up! I think I'll bring the camera tomorrow night and grab some fótos of the great outfits. It's a bilingual service, and our Assistant, Revdo. Luís Cáceres will preach. This is his first opportunity to preach at the Watchnight Service. The real challenge of this service is planning everything just right so that Luís and I are behind the altar for the post-communion prayer exactly at midnight. The entire city of Panamá just explodes with fireworks at midnight, and once I give the benediction and we sing the final hymn, we all go out the door to watch the fireworks. Mona and I learned our first year here that no one in Ciudad de Panamá goes to sleep before 5:00am on New Years, and with the amount of firework activity which took place in our neighborhood on Christmas Eve I don't think we will have any luck getting to bed before 3:00 am! What are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed

Well, they did it. I know that he was a bad person, but I'm a Christian and I simply can not support capital punishment. I'm not sure what they (both the Iraqis and Estadoünidense) think this will accomplish. In fact, I think that things are going to get even more dangerous in Iraq now. I have two parishoners fighting there. That's right, two Panamanians are in Iraq fighting with the U.S. military in this stupid mess. I believe that Saddam should have been tried in the Hague. I think that the Bush Administration better hope that none of them end up in the Hague, because they, too, are guilty of war crimes. I am disgusted with all of this. I guess it doesn't pay to be in cahoots with the likes of the guys in the second photo! Wait, didn't that one guy just get fired?

Padre Mickey's Dance Party Holiday Random Friday Top Ten (Well, Top 11, Actually)

Tara will like this one!

1. Christmas Night BBC Welsh Chorus
3. Past Three O'Clock The Chieftains
4. The Innkeeper La Boca (Panama) Alumni Chorus
5. Christmas In L.A. The Bobs
6. F*** Christmas Fear
7. Let's Unite The World At Christmas JAMES BROWN! JAMES BROWN! JAMES BROWN!
8. Santa Dog The Residents
9. Still, Still, Still Theatre Of Voices
10. Silver Bells The Platters
And Bonus 11. Christmas In Jail The Bobs

A Presidential Request

I'd love to!

Nacimientos, Or, As They Called Them In My Family, Manger Scenes

Nacimientos are a very popular part of Christmas here in Panamá. When I was in the U.S. there were many discussions about whether it was proper (or even legal) to display a nacimiento on public property. It doesn't seem to be a problem here. Also, people love to display nacimientos in front of their homes. I've seen Santa Clause and his reindeer standing next to the Holy Family in Bethlehem. At the Machitazo (a large department store) in Caledonia there is an enormous nacimiento. We have been collecting pieces for the nacimiento for years. In the past a parishioner, Sybil Phillips, would assemble the nacimiento with some of the kids. We have also had a teacher from Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal, the parish school, come and set-up the nacimiento. Sybil passed away last year, and no one from the school came to assemble the display, so members of the ECW did it this year. Well, we had so many pieces, and they didn't know which ones to use, so they used all of them! As a result, we have some interesting problems with perspective. As you can see, the Holy Family towers over Bethlehem, which puts me in mind of some of the stories in non-canonical gospels.
Here en la Rectoría, we have two nacimientos. The one made of bamboo and straw comes from Korea and has been in my family for some forty years. I'm really surprised it hasn't fallen apart, but Mona knows how to care for such a fragile display. Our second nacimiento is from Panamá and is made of stone. I think that it is very pretty. I've included a photo of Rosamari from Hogar de Niñas standing next to the nacimiento at the Hogar.

Friday Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging: The Boys Return to Belén

On Christmas day Tía Sue asked me if the boys were going to return to Belén once the Santo Niño appeared. The answer is "yes." I think I see the Magi coming around the corner. (Well, he's a little hard to see; you may glimpse part of his robe there on the extreme left of the photo)
Everybody sing:
I see the Magi comin'; they're comin' 'round the bend.
And I ain't seen el Santo Niño since, I don't know when.
I'm stuck in Belén Stables, and I don't know why.
But when I see that star shine, I hang my head and cry.

Friday Random 10 (or maybe 11?)

1. She Sells Roxy Music
2. What Keeps Mankind Alive? (Kurt Weill) William S. Burroughs
3. Morpha Too Big Star
4. Easter Theatre XTC
5. W.O.R.K. (No Nah No No My Daddy Don't) Bow Wow Wow
6. Missa Sicut Lilium Inter Spinas (Palestrina) The Tallis Scholars
7. Here Is My Number Makin' Time
8. No More Neil Young
10. My Back Pages Ramones
Bonus: 11. Forgive Them, Father Lauryn Hill

Forgive us, Father; there is some terrible stuff here! But #9 makes up for everything!
And no, #8 is not a statement regarding a former member of Buffalo Springfield


AP-AOL News Poll Reveals: America Perplexed by George W. Bush

U.S. President Ranks as Top Villain and Top Hero of 2006

America in No Doubt of 2006’s Celebrity Role Models – Oprah Regaled as the Best; Britney Declared the Worst

DULLES, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new poll from The Associated Press and AOL News has discovered that Americans are torn in terms of their perception of President George W. Bush and his performance in 2006. When asked to name the past year’s biggest villain, Bush was far and away the #1 choice, commanding 25% of the vote, distantly trailed by Osama Bin Laden (8%), Saddam Hussein (6%), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (5%), North Korean leader Kim Jong II (2%) and Donald Rumsfeld (2%). Satan only took in 1% of the vote, as did Hugo Chavez, Tom Cruise, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Rosie O’Donnell, among others.

On the flipside, Bush also claimed the top spot when Americans were asked to name the year’s biggest hero, but with only a trifling 13% of the vote. The troops in Iraq came in second (6%), followed by Jesus Christ (3%), Barack Obama (3%), Oprah Winfrey (3%), and rock star/philanthropist Bono (2%). Other “do-gooders” of 2006, receiving 1% each, included luminaries, business leaders and politicos such as Warren Buffett, George Clooney, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Billy Graham, Angelina Jolie, Colin Powell, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Condoleeza Rice.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

President Jimmy Carter Visits Panama

Fótos: Left: Visiting Miraflores Locks;D.Angél- La Prensa
Right: VP Navarro with President Carter; Jihan Rodríquez-La Prensa
While the Worst President Ever is holed up in his fake ranch in Crawford, Texas with that bunch of losers he calls a Cabinet, and the United States gets ready to bury President Gerald Ford, President James Earl Carter visited Panama today. He and Rosalyn were at the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal with President Martín Torrijos. President Carter said that he would love to visit the Canal again after the new locks and the amplificación takes place.
Vice-President Samuel Lewis Navarro saidtoday that the President of Brasil, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, will visit Panamá on the ninth of January, 2007. All the cool guys are coming here! When the Dim Son visited here earlier this year, the entire city was practically on House Arrest. But when the cool guys are here, everything remains normal (or what passes for normal here).

The Holy Innocents

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the kind of feast to which the proper response is: "ewwwww!" According to the story in Matthew's gospel, Herod ordered all the boys under two years old in Bethlehem to be slaughtered because he wanted to prevent the arrival of the Messiah. There are no accounts of this event in non-biblical literature of the time, and one would expect that such a traumatic event would appear somewhere; Flavius Josephus doesn't mention it, and he spent some time on the abuses of Herod.
Whether Herod had children massacred or not, there are still many innocents being slaughtered here in our own time. Children die of starvation all over the planet, and innocent children die in the war zones our our world, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Darfur. Innocent children die of abuse and neglect in developed nations and in developing nations. Innocent children die of neglect and abuse in the United States of America, too. Innocent children die every day on the streets of our cities. The leaders of these nations are even more guilty than Herod, because we have actual proof of these atrocities taking place in our time.
So today, let us pray and remember the innocents massacred in this day and time around the world, and let's remember who is responsible for these modern-day atrocities.
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's Time For Your Favorite Christmas Game: FIND THE KITTY

From Cute Overload
Who wants to read about saints when they can look at photos of animals?

Feast of John, Apostle and Evangelist

John, son of Zebedee and Salome and younger brother of James, grew up along the shores of the sea of Galilee. Both John and James were followers of John the Baptizer, and John and Andrew were present when John the Baptizer saw Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John was probably one of the earliest disciples of Jesus. Jesus called John and James “Boanerges” which means “Sons of Thunder” and they, along with Peter, where in the Inner Circle of the disciples. These three were blessed with the experience of seeing Jesus transfigured and talking with Moses and Elijah. When the women returned to tell the disciples of the empty tomb, both Peter and John ran to check out their story and John reached the empty tomb first. It was John who recognized the Resurrected Jesus sitting on the beach when they were fishing. According to the gospel attributed to John, Jesus gave the care of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to John as they stood at the foot of the cross. It was either James and John or their mother who asked Jesus if they could sit at his right and left when he entered his kingdom. We have no idea if they sit on either side of Jesus, but we do know that they shared the same cup as Jesus, the cup of persecution. James died the death of a martyr, but although John died in Ephesus at a very advanced age, he did suffer persecution. Tertullian and Jerome claim that during the persecution of Domatian, John was dipped in a cauldron of boiling oil outside the Latin Gate of the city of Rome. He was unharmed and was exiled to the island of Patmos to work in the mines. It was there that he received the vision which he wrote down and is named the Apocalypse of John the Divine, or the Book of Revelation.

John was the most prolific writer of the Twelve who followed Jesus; only the Apostle Paul left us more writings. John has a gospel attributed to him, the vision of the Apocalypse is attributed to him, and three letters to the Church in Ephesus are attributed to him. According to bishop Eusebius of Cesarea, the fourth century historian, John wrote his gospel because the other three gospels did not deal with the deeds of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry. Eusebius said that John’s gospel was accepted by the Church from the earliest days, as well as the first epistle attributed to him, but that the other two epistles are not accepted by everyone. There was still disagreement as to whether the Apocalypse should be accepted as scripture in the fourth century; Eusebius writes: “In regard to the Apocalypse, the opinions of most men are still divided.” As I mentioned earlier, John moved to Ephesus upon his release from Patmos, and he became a very important part of the Church in Asia. St. Jerome writes that towards the end of John’s life in Ephesus, he was so weak that he could no longer preach or even stand. His young disciples would carry him into the church and, with great difficulty, the Apostle would say: "My dear children, love one another." Some of those in the congregation once asked him why he always said the same thing, why he repeated the same words, and the Apostle answered, "Because it is the precept of the Lord, and if you comply with it, you do enough " He finally died in peace in Ephesus, at about ninety-four years of age. As far as we know, John is the only one of the Apostles who died of old age rather than receiving the crown of martyrdom.

I want to finish by relating a story about the Apostle which Eusebius credits to Clement of Alexandria. This story gives us great insight into the nature of John: "Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant's death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit. When he had come to one of the cities not far away, and had consoled the brethren in other matters, he finally turned to the bishop that had been appointed, and seeing a youth of powerful physique, of pleasing appearance, and of ardent temperament, he said, 'This one I commit to thee in all earnestness in the presence of the Church and with Christ as witness.' And when the bishop had accepted the Charge and had promised all, he repeated the same injunction with an appeal to the same witnesses, and then departed for Ephesus. But the presbyter, taking home the youth committed to him, reared, kept, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he relaxed his stricter care and watchfulness, with the idea that in putting upon him the seal of the Lord he had given him a perfect protection. But some youths of his own age, idle and dissolute, and accustomed to evil practices, corrupted him when he was thus prematurely freed from restraint. At first they enticed him by costly entertainments; then, when they went forth at night for robbery, they took him with them, and finally they demanded that he should unite with them in some greater crime. He gradually became accustomed to such practices, and on account of the positiveness of his character, leaving the right path, and taking the bit in his teeth like a hard-mouthed and powerful horse, he rushed the more violently down into the depths. And finally despairing of salvation in God, he no longer meditated what was insignificant, but having committed some great crime, since he was now lost once for all, he expected to suffer a like fate with the rest. Taking them, therefore, and forming a band of robbers, he became a bold bandit-chief, the most violent, most bloody, most cruel of them all. Time passed, and some necessity having arisen, they sent for John. But he, when he had set in order the other matters on account of which he had come, said, 'Come, O bishop, restore us the deposit which both I and Christ committed to thee, the church, over which thou presidest, being witness. But the bishop was at first confounded, thinking that he was falsely charged in regard to money which he had not received, and he could neither believe the accusation respecting what he had not, nor could he disbelieve John. But when he said, 'I demand the young man and the soul of the brother,' the old man, groaning deeply and at the same time bursting into tears, said, 'He is dead.' 'How and what kind of death?' 'He is dead to God,' he said; 'for he turned wicked and abandoned, and at last a robber. And now, instead of the church, he haunts the mountain with a band like himself.' But the Apostle rent his clothes, and beating his head with great lamentation, he said, 'A fine guard I left for a brother's soul! But let a horse be brought me, and let some one show me the way.' He rode away from the church just as he was, and coming to the place, he was taken prisoner by the robbers' outpost. He, however, neither fled nor made entreaty, but cried out, 'For this did I come; lead me to your captain.' The latter, meanwhile, was waiting, armed as he was. But when he recognized John approaching, he turned in shame to flee. But John, forgetting his age, pursued him with all his might, crying out, 'Why, my son, dost thou flee from me, thine own father, unarmed, aged? Pity me, my son; fear not; thou hast still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for thee. If need be, I will willingly endure thy death as the Lord suffered death for us. For thee will I give up my life. Stand, believe; Christ hath sent me.' And he, when he heard, first stopped and looked down; then he threw away his arms, and then trembled and wept bitterly. And when the old man approached, he embraced him, making confession with lamentations as he! was able, baptizing himself a second time with tears, and concealing only his right hand, But John, pledging himself, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness with the Saviour, besought him, fell upon his knees, kissed his right hand itself as if now purified by repentance, and led him back to the church. And making intercession for him with copious prayers, and struggling together with him in continual fastings, and subduing his mind by various utterances, he did not depart, as they say, until he had restored him to the church, furnishing a great example of true repentance and a great proof of regeneration, a trophy of a visible resurrection."

John is also called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue which is very much on our minds at this time of year. I will leave you with these words from John’s first epistle, which remind us why we remember him today:"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light, that we, being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of your truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Our New Plant

Elizabeth Leigh gave us this beautiful plant for Christmas, but the flower was closed yesterday. I came outside this morning to go on my walk and the flower was in bloom. So, now I must decide whether it is a St. Stephen's Day flower or a Boxing Day flower! Or, we could just call it That-Yellow-Flower-Out-There. Vote in the comments.
Thanks, Lizzie!

Our Christmas Day celebration

We spent Christmas Day with our friends the Leighs in Gamboa. The Leighs are with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute here in Panamá, and have been here for over thirty years. Tía Sue was there, too! We had Indian food for Christmas, per Bert's request (which is great since I love Indian food). Mona made samosas, and I made saag. I wanted to have lamb in the saag, but there was no lamb to be found in the supermarket, so I used puerco liso. The only way the saag could be less kosher was if I had given it a crab and shrimp garnish! With the pork and cream, I should have just offered it to an idol and got it over with! The saag had a nice slow burn to it, which caused us all to break-out into a sweat midway through the meal. We also had brown basmati rice and naan, not to mention salad. Lots of wine, and whiskey for me and Bert. I was so full when we got home around 5:00 pm I just collapsed on the couch for several hours. Here is a picture of Natasha, whom you remember from the cute scruffy dog wars. She napped the entire time we were there! She has one brown eye and one blue eye (as does her sister, Olivia) and sleeps with her blue eye open, but her brown eye closed. She finally got up to bid us good-bye!

Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and Protomartyr

We don't have much information on St. Stephen, the Protomartyr. All the information we have comes from chapters 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostles, the second volume of the work attributed to St. Luke. One of the first disputes in the early Church involved the assistance programs for needy widows, and this dispute fell along the lines of language, as the Greek-speaking members of the community in Jerusalem complained that their widows were being ignored in favor of the widows of the Aramaic speakers (I can relate to the situation, being the Rector of a bilingual parish). I'm sure the division was along much more than language and had to do with culture and class. The apostles were fed-up with the dispute and realized that they couldn't go out and preach the Good News and take care of administrative and financial matters, so they told the community to select seven persons from the group, persons who were respected and of sound judgement and filled with the Holy Spirit. Seven men were selected, and among them was Stephen. Stephen was quite a preacher. His sermons brought folks to repentance and to seek baptism, but his sermons could also really anger those in authority. One day he went too far and was stoned by a mob who had become enraged by his sermon. I guess they didn't like being called "stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, forever opposing the Holy Spirit." They dragged him outside of the city and stoned him. leaving their coats with one Saul, who approved of their killing him. Stephen didn't hold their anger against them, saying, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" just as he died. I guess that's one reason not to call people names when preaching.
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Ow, guys, stop it! And where are your cloaks?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Rest in Peace, James

I was shocked to awake this Christmas morning to the news that James Brown passed away last night. He is the Godfather of the Dance Party, and now he will be the Hardest Working Man in the Great Beyond.
The title of one of the songs on my favorite holiday (as opposed to Christmas) album, "James Brown Christmas" is "Christmas In Heaven." I guess that's where he is spending Christmas this year.
Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord: And let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

¡Feliz Navidad a Todos!

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Map From Hell

I thought this map was going to be a banner on the side and then we would click and see where everyone was located (as if I didn't already know!), but instead it be actin' up and, well, we'll see how this works out. Thanks to Sue, Leonardo, and Anonymous (if that's your REAL name) for placing pins!

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

I really like this album of Holiday Music. Since tonight is the night before the night before Christmas, I thought I'd share these poignant lyrics. Have you ever been to a party where this was going on?

It's the night before the night before Christmas
old friends together the same time every year
she's leaving him, but he doesn't know it
to everyone else it's perfectly clear

Their holiday party has secrets in the air
something that he doesn't share
she's found another
she's movin' on
the day after New Years she'll be gone

The guests are uneasy they don't know how to act
should they tell him or keep it hushed?
take a drink and a snack
talking behind his back
soon everyone's getting lushed

It's the night before the night before Christmas
old friends together the same time every year
she's leaving him but he doesn't know it
to everyone else it's perfectly clear

She said promise you won't spend a lot on my present
just give me something small
a little reminder is more than enough
it's the thought that counts after all

The gift that she's giving he can't foresee
a gift that begins with a "D"
When he gets the papers
Things will look grim
Why ruin Christmas for him?

It's the night before the night before Christmas
One year later together as friends
they moved apart but the party's still going
a holiday spirit that never will end

Friday, December 22, 2006

Red Mr. Peanut Bank and Gallito Mescalito Blogging

Today the boys went to Belén, but they are several days early, so all they found were some shepherds, an unusually tall angel, and Mary and Joseph all waiting for the arrival of el Santo Niño. If only they could have waited until late Sunday night! Well, who know, perhaps they will return at a more opportune time.

Christmas Chaos

This is my favorite photo that Mona took today. Total Christmas Party Chaos!!!

Padre Mickey's Dance Party Holiday Random Friday Ten

As always, we actually have eleven, because our top ten goes all the way to eleven!
1. Please Come Home For Christmas - James Brown
2. O The Holly She Bears A Berry - The Chieftains
3. Too Many Santas - The Bobs
4. Hark The Herald Angels Sing (ELTHAM) - Theatre Of Voices
5. Away In A Manger - The Platters
6. The Bells Of Dublin/Christmas Eve - The Chieftains
7. While Shepherds Watched (Sherburne) - Daniel Read
8. Christmas In Heaven - James Brown
9. All I Want For Christmas - The Bobs
10. Susser die Glocken - Theatre of Voices
And Bonus: 11. De Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy - BBC Welsh Chorus

Feliz Navidad con Tía Sue y el Hogar de las Niñas

Photos by the Lovely Mona
Today was the Diocesan Christmas party for el Hogar de Niñas de las Capital, where my dear friend and fellow Panamanian Missionary Blogger, Tía Sue ministers. Mona was there and took many fótos.
1. Tía Sue plays Santa
2. A Happy Young Lady with the Nacimiento
3. Waiting for Presents
4. A festive lunch
5. Tía Sue and Yasuri (You can read Yasuri's story at Tía Sue's blog)
6. The Rt. Rev. Julio E. Murray, Th., Bishop of Panamá

Friday Random 10 (or maybe 11?)

1. I'm Gonna Love You Too - Thirteenth Floor Elevator (Live)
2. Ouvertüre BWV 1066 (J.S. Bach) - Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
3. Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me? - White Stripes
4. Dame, que je n'os noumer - Anonymous 4
5. There's A Moon In The Sky (Called The Moon) - B-52's
6. Blank Expression - The Specials
7. In The Midnight Hour - Roxy Music
8. Cemetery Polka - Tom Wiats
9. In nomine (Thomas Tallis)- Theatre of Voices & The Kings Noyse
10. My Bird Performs - XTC
And Bonus: 11. Best Friends - Red Rat

Of all the Roxy Music I have on the iTunes, it had to pick THAT! I can't remember the last time I heard Red Rat.
I think I'll do a holiday version of Friday Random 10 later today; the iTunes on the home computer has a better selection of holiday material.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Spiney Norman - Hedgehog Buddha

Cute Overload, as usual
Om ma-ni padme hummmmmmmm

I Guess She's Ready For Solid Food. . .

Photo by either Tara or Chris Mobley, except, of course, for the photo at the bottom. I think Yasuri took that one.
I wonder where she got the idea to do this? This chubby thing is my darling little granddaughter, Evie, last seen on this blog staring down her cat. I'm not sure if her folks aren't feeding her enough or if she has decided that she wants to start yoga classes. Well, at least her feet are clean!
While we're showing pictures of the grandchildren (Gawd, is this disgusting, or what? How the hell did I turn into one of THESE guys?), here's a photo of my lovely Panamanian granddaugher, Alejandra, participating in a wedding last year. Alie and her mom, Yasuri, and her aunt, Ingrid, are very good friends of our daughter Anne, and all lived with us for several years in Paraíso. Alie has always called us "abuelos," so I consider her my granddaughter, too. When we told her Tía Tara was going to have a baby, she told us it was okay because she would still be the eldest! ¡Qué Bonita!

Padre's Xmas List



Felicidades and Many Blessings to Prior Aelred on the anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. May God continue to bless you and work through you to bring about God's Reign. Also, saludos to the Brothers of the Priory.

Feast of St. Thomas

Everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

St. Thomas is my favorite apostle. I was ordained a priest on his Feast Day (well, it fell on a Sunday that year so I was priested the next day, Dec. 22. Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of my priesting.) and that was no accident. I think that he is the coolest apostle. Peter used to say anything that popped into his head; James and John, the Thunder Boys (thanks, Robbin!) were in the Inner Circle with Peter; Simon was either a Freedom Fighter or a Terrorist, depending upon your point of view; Andrew was the First Called and served as a liaison between Jesus and the other disciples; Matthew's gospel insured his fame, and the rest (and especially Mathias) were so boring that we don't know anything about them except that their names appear on lists. But Thomas, well, Thomas was kind of modern, in my opinion. He needed some proof before he was going to believe something. When Jesus appeared to the others in the Upper Room while Thomas was away, he didn't accept their story. He said he would believe when he touched Jesus' wounds. I've always thought that Thomas was treated unfairly by the Church, with them calling him "Doubting Thomas." He didn't really doubt; he didn't say "You guys are lying! I don't believe a word!" He just wanted some proof before he accepted the story. He spent a lot of time with those guys so I expect he knew them pretty well. Maybe he thought that they were inclined to jump to conclusions without thinking things through; we know Peter had that tendency. Maybe they used to play tricks on him. While the others were all locked away in the Upper Room, Thomas was away. I don't know what he was doing, but he certainly wasn't hiding in fear of the authorities. When Jesus appeared to those present in the Upper Room, they didn't recognize him until he showed them his wounds. Then they rejoiced. When Thomas showed up, they told him what happened and he delivered his famous line. A week later, Jesus appeared while Thomas was present. This time Jesus showed Thomas his wounds and even had Thomas touch them. What did Thomas say? Did he say, "I don't know, this all seems a bit strange"? Did he say, "Yuck! Wy did you have me touch your wounds?" Did he say, "Are you really Jesus or is this some kind of sick joke?" No. He said, "My Master! My God!" Those don't sound like the words of a Doubter, of a Skeptic. No, those are the words of one who recognizes who Jesus is, those are the words of one who truly believes. Thomas was a good and faithful person; the fact that he wasn't cowering behind locked doors with the others says something about his character. It was Thomas who was willing to follow Jesus to Judea when Jesus wanted to see his friend Lazarus. The others were worried that Jesus' enemies would try to kill him. Thomas said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." It was Thomas who, in John's version of the Last Supper, interrupts Jesus for some clarification, to ask: "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" It isn't that Thomas didn't want to believe, he just wanted to believe for the right reasons, he didn't want to simply "jump on the bandwagon." I think that it is important to remember that nome of the others believed that Jesus was resurrected until Jesus showed them his wounds; they just saw Jesus before Thomas, it doesn't make them any better or more faithful.
I love the "Acts of Thomas" and that wild story about Thomas' time in India, even though I'm sure it's a bunch of hooey. I like the idea that Thomas went to India and started the Church there, but I doubt the veracity of most of those stories. I think that the example of Thomas is an important and worthy example to Christians, because he didn't just accept things without looking in to them. We all know people who think that blind faith is important, but blind faith, a faith which is not based upon reason, will lead one into trouble. Way too many false Christs have ld people astray because their followers refused to question, because they were afraid of their doubts. During my wayward youth, I spent some four years in a psuedo-Hindu meditation cult with a guru. We were told "never leave room for doubt in your mind" and "never question the purity of the master," but the "master" was a fraud and needed to be questioned! A true Master does not need to tell his followers not to doubt, because he does not see doubt as a threat to faith, but as a normal part of the spiritual process. Thomas wasn't hard to convince; when Jesus appeared to him and showed him his wounds, Thomas didn't debate with Jesus, he said "My Master! My God!" Peter and the Beloved Disciple didn't believe the women when they returned from the empty tomb and said that they had seen the Lord, and none of the disciples believed until Jesus showed them his wounds. God gave us large brains capable of reason and thought, and God expects us to use these brains even in spiritual matters. Questioning and study are all part of loving God with all our minds. Thomas and the women and the others all believed because they saw the Resurrected Jesus. The believed because they saw the and touched the nail marks. They believed because the Resurrected Jesus appeared in their midst and talked with them. Jesus said that we who believe without seeing are blessed, and Christians throughout the centuries and millennia have held on to the promise of that blessing, because we have no choice, really. We have believed without seeing. But I must admit, if I was given the choice of being blessed in that manner or actually seeing the risen Christ and touching the nail marks and putting my hand in his side, I would exchange places with Thomas in a heart beat!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Love Basket Day

Paques ready to go!
Today we distributed the Love Baskets after the Holy Eucharist and Healing service. We distributed 100 paques. Each paque contained:

1 can fruit juice; 1 can mixed vegetables; 1 can tuna; 1 bottle vegetable oil; 1 bag lentils; 1 bag macaroni; 1 box tea; 1 lb. coffee; 1 pkg. mayonnaise; 2 lbs sugar; 1 lb. corn meal; 2 lbs. rice; 1/2 dz. eggs;
1 bag containing onions, garlic, potatoes, (and I think some apples, but I’m not sure) 1 small cake; and one whole chicken (I believe that I have listed the contents correctly), all the necessary ingredients for a great Christmas Dinner, Panamanian Style! I think we did quite well! We raised some $1200.00, and all of it came from the congregation; we didn’t receive any donations of food from groceries stores and food distributors as we have in the past. Our parish serves the neighborhoods of Rio Abajo and Parque Lefevre, and there is quite a lot of poverty surrounding us, due to the economic depression in Panamá since the revision of the Canal to Panamá. Most of the members of our congregation are retired Canal Workers, so they are on fixed incomes, but they are all so generous and never refuse any request to help others. I want to congratulate Ms. Roxanna Olton, Ms. Elfrida Beckford and all the women of the ECW, as well as all the folks who helped pack and distribute the paques. I also want to congratulate and thank the youth who participated this year packing and distributing paques. This is the 29th year of the Love Basket Program, and it is an outreach project of which our parish can be quite proud. I was ready to take many photos of the participants and recipients, but the batteries on the camera expired after three shots. Oh well, better luck next year!

Some folks in this group will distribute paques, and others will receive paques.

I See You!

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