Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Crazy, It HURTS!!!

These guys never stop! Now some right-wing nut case named Frank Gaffney believes that the new logo for the Missile Defense Agency's website is part of a "nafarious plot." Here's the logo:

I find the colors to be similar to those used in the Obama campaign's logo, but the thing that drives Our Frank crazy is THE CRESCENT SHAPE, which looks more like a circle broken by the red missile fumes to me, but what does a terrist-lovin' guy like me know?

Lawdy, lawdy, I wonder what that man thinks when he sees the following?

Killer Muslin's is everwhere!!!

A Nice Photo

The Lovely Mona and Padre en Iglesia Jesús Nazareno, Tortí, República de Panamá, playing an offertory anthem.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Random Top Ten

Ya pushes "shuffle" and ya takes yer chances . . .

1. War Dance XTC
2. The Cherry Tree Lord Kitty
3. Excellent Birds Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel
4. Lucky Day Tom Waits
5. Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head Elvis Costello and the Attractions
6. Lindo Sientamiento Manuel de Jesús
7. Stay Free The Clash
8. Tell You Why Tomorrow Hüsker Dü
9. England's Glory Max Wall
10. Yachting Types The Yachts

Lotsa good stuff, including two Panamanian artists, who aren't covered on YouTube, of course. However, we make it all up to you by showing the song featured on today's illustration. Unfortunately, we don't get to see him Do The Charanga. Yes, Merv Griffin had a Dance Party before me, but he probably had lots of things before me. But he's dead and I'm not. At this moment. Also. Too.

Friday Toles

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catching Up

Lent is a very busy time, as you are all aware, so I can get behind.
Last Monday (Lunes de Carnaval) I attended a workshop at the Diocesan Center, led by the Rev. James Cooper of Trinity Wall Street. It was a good session, and we worked in small groups and all that kinda stuff.

We had two services at San Cristóbal for Ash Wednesday, English at 7:30 am and bilingual at 6:00 pm. Here is a photo of the morning crowd looking appropriately penitent.

Padre reminding everyone that Jesus said to wash your face.

An energetic discussion after church.

Friday we started our Lenten series and then had Stations of the Cross around 6:30 pm, but we didn't take any photos of that. Now I'm all caught up for a little while.

Things Are Moving Along Nicely!

The Rectory Restoration Project is moving along nicely. The contractors gave us an estimated time of two months, which sounded impossible at the time, but I think they may pull it off. They began work on January 11 and haven't stopped since!
Here are photos covering a thirteen-day period: February 10th through February 23rd.

February 10

February 17

February 19

February 23

We will be installing accordion walls to make separate classrooms, and, as you can see, we will have space for larger events. I am very pleased with how things are coming along.

Feast of Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today is the feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and martyr. Smyrna was a city in Asia Minor, in the nation we now call Turkey. Born in the year 69, Polycarp was a student of John the Apostle and Evangelist, studying under him during his time in Ephesus, after his exile on Patmos. Polycarp was one of the bishops actually consecrated in the Apostolic succession since he was ordained by an Apostle. He was a well respected bishop; when Ignatius made his journey to Rome for his own martyrdom, he wrote letters to various churches along the way, and one of the letters was addressed to Polycarp. Polycarp wrote an Epistle to the Philippians which was read by many early Christian communities, although it was not included in the canon. In this epistle he reminds the Christians in Philippi of the importance of holding on to the promises of God, of the importance of keeping the faith, and that the clergy must be self-disciplined, righteous, humane, and hard working. He was very clear that clergy must not be "in love with money" and live lives of holiness as examples to the flock. He also wrote that it was important to remember that Jesus had two nature, human and divine, in opposition to the Docetists.

The account of Polycarp's martyrdom may have been written by Irenaeus of Lyons, and it is the earliest account of a martyrdom after the story of the deacon Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles. One in the year 155 or 156, a crowd was at the stadium in Smyrna watching the spectacle of several Christians being thrown to the wild beasts. The Christians stood firm and died noble deaths, but the crowd, upset by the martyrs' heroism, broke into cries of "Down with the infidels!" and "Go find Polycarp!" When the bishop learned that the crowd wanted him, he was all for staying in the city and facing the music, but members of his church took him out of town and to a hiding place in the hills. He spent his entire time there, day and night, praying for those who were being persecuted. One day while praying, he had a vision in which his pillow ignited and burned to ashes. He went down stairs and told his companions, "I seems that I will be burnt alive." They kept moving him from one farm to another with the authorities hot on their heels. Soldiers arrested two servant boys at one location, and, under torture, they told the police where Polycarp was. When the police appeared at the farm, Polycarp surrendered rather than continue on the run. He asked the police for just a little time to pray, and, seeing that he was rather elderly and not much of a threat, they agreed. He prayed so full of God's grace that two whole hours passed before he could stop praying. Several of the police began to feel some remorse for having to arrest such a saintly old man. Polycarp was brought to the Police Commissioner, who took him into his carriage and said, "Come on, what's the harm in offering some incense and saying 'Caesar is Lord?' It will save your life!" Polycarp said, "No, I won't take your advice." Many people tried to convince him to offer incense to the honor of the Emperor but he would not budge. They finally arrived at the stadium, where the crowd was waiting for the day's entertainment and all worked up. When he walked into the stadium, a voice from the heavens said "Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man." Standing in front of the crowd, the police gave him one more chance to recant, saying, "Think of your years. Swear by the luck of the Emperor, or at least say 'Down with the infidels.'" The Governor finally said, "Take an oath and I'll let you go. Revile your Christ." Polycarp said, "I've served Him for 86 years and he had done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme and deny my King and Savior?" They threatened him with wild beasts, and he said, "Bring on the animals, because I will not trade a good way of thinking for a bad one. It might be a good idea for you, however, to switch from the wrong to the right!" Like most men in power, the Police Commissioner didn't appreciate smart-aleck answers, and he hollered "I'll have you burned with fire since you think so lightly of the beasts!" Polycarp responded "The fire you threaten me with won't burn for very long; it will eventually go out, but are you unaware of the eternal flames of judgment and eternal torment that wait for the ungodly? Come on, stop wasting time, do what ever yo are going to do!" The crowd shouted, "Polycarp has admitted to being a Christian!" (Duh! Ever notice how intelligent large crowds in stadiums are?) and started gathering wood to burn Polycarp. When the pile of combustible materials was ready, Polycarp took off his tunic and sandals and stood next to the stake. They fastened his feet with irons and were about to nail him to the stake when he said, "Let me be; He who gives me strength to endure the flames will give me strength not to flinch at the stake without your making sure of it with nails." So they tied him to the stake, instead. Polycarp looked up into heaven and prayed: "Almighty God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, you are the God of angels and power and of the whole creation, and all the generations of the righteous live in your sight. I thank you for granting me this day and hour that I might be numbered amongst the martyrs, to share the cup of your Anointed and to rise into life everlasting. May I be received this day into your presence, a sacrifice rich and acceptable, for you are the God of truth and in you is no falsehood. I praise you, I glorify you, and I bless you, through our eternal high priest in heaven, your believed Son, Jesus, Christ, by whom and with whom be glory to you and the Holy spirit, now and for all ages to come. Amen." As the "amen" soared up and the prayer ended, the men lit the fire and a great sheet of flame blazed out. It enveloped Polycarp like a ship's sail and formed a wall around him, and he was in the center of the fire, like an ingot of gold being refined in the furnace. Then everyone smelled a wonderful fragrance, not the odor of burning flesh, but of fine incense. Finally, when they realized the fire would not destroy him, two tough-guys went up and stabbed him. As they did, a dove flew out of the fire and there was such a rush of blood that the flames were extinguished! And with that, the great Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, student of the Beloved Disciple, went to his reward, to a robe of white, standing with a palm branch in front of the throne of the Lamb, saying "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb."

Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." The witness of brave Christians like Polycarp has been an example to Christians for centuries. When I read of Christians in the U.S. claim that they are being persecuted because their children can't pray around a flag pole at school, or those in TEC who claim persecution because gay and lesbian Christians are being ordained, I think of someone like Polycarp, someone who knew real persecution, someone who stood up to the authorities, someone who braved the wild beasts and burning at the stake, and I think, "aren't we blessed that we don't know real persecution?" May Polycarp's witness be a model for us all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ayer en Tortí

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Lent, so I chanted the Great Litany (in English) in Solemn Procession at the 7:30 am Eucharist at San Cristóbal. I also preached, but as soon as my sermon was finished and the Nicene Creed was being recited, I sneaked out the side door, grabbed my guitar, and the Lovely Mona and I met up with Walter Smith, Revda. Glenda McQueen, Bishop Murray and Kelly, the bishop's driver and we headed east for Iglesia Jesús Nazareno in Tortí for their Patronal Festival (yes, the first Sunday of Lent is the Feast Day of Jesús Nazareno here in Panamá). We made good time and arrived about two hours later in Tortí. We all got out of the car and were greeted by Padre Román Morán, priest in charge in Tortí.

The piety of the churches in Panama City, Colón, and Bocas del Toro is different than that of the churches in the Interior. This is because the churches in Panamá, Colón and Bocas del Toro were founded primarily by Afroantillanos, or Panamanians of West Indian heritage, while the churches in the Interior are Latino Panamanians. So the piety of the churches in the major cities is High Church Anglican, while the piety of the churches in the Interior tend to be border-line Roman Catholic (Panamá is a Roman Catholic country). This being the case, we started the Patronal Feast with the Procession of Jesús Nazareno through the main street in Tortí. We would walk and sing and then stop at some point, where Padre Román and Bishop Murray would offer prayers. Then we would continue walking and singing, while a couple members of the Vestry marched along side of us, setting off very noisy sky rockets. The first one they set-off frightened a man in a pickup, who backed into a stack of concrete blocks, breaking several blocks and scratching up his pickup!

About an hour later everyone returned to the church, where we began the Blessing of the New Building. The bishop stood outside, knocked on the gate and said "Que sea abierta la puerta." Once inside, he said, "Paz sea a esta casa, y a todos los que entran en ella; En Nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo. Amén." and then walked around sprinkling holy water all over the place. The the Holy Eucharist began. I was the musician for the service, and the Lovely Mona and I performed a duet for the Ofertorio. After Communion we had lots of blessings for birthdays and anniversaries and all kindsa stuff. After the service we all enjoyed holadres y salchichas o sancocho (fry bread and hot dogs in a red sauce or típico chicken soup). We had many conversations and then headed back for the city around 3:00 pm. Along the way we stopped at a river between two indigenous communities, Kuna and Embara. The Lovely Mona was able to snap a photo of the Kuna canoes on the river. We breezed through all the Police stops and didn't have to show our identification, which was different than my trip to Bocas two weeks ago. We got home around 5:00 pm and took a showers (it was really hot and we were soaked) and then enjoyed dinner. All in all a wonderful day! And, of course, we have photos!

Iglesia Jesús Nazareno

Parish Hall

Rectory (in center of photo)

Padre Román

The Altar. Note the bottle of water in front of the altar, wrapped in a rosary. People put water near the altar so that it will become holy water during the epiclesis and then they use it for medicine.

Jesús Nazareno

The procession

Padre's perspective

Setting-off sky rockets

The Bishop says "Let the doors be opened!"

Some guy playing guitar

Blessing the new building

Bishop Murray preaching

The congregation

¡Muchas bendiciones!


Kuna end of the river

Kuna village

I See You!

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