Sunday, December 31, 2006

We Pray for Those who Have Died, Especially... 

Did anyone else's congregation, in the Prayers of the People, include Saddam Hussein's name in the prayers for those who have died? Ours did and received no small amount of reaction, which seemed to have been turned into a teaching moment during coffee hour.

As I was saying to a friend yesterday, there is a part of me that is sad that Hussein was executed. It means, to me at least, that "retributive justice" is still being meted out via execution, which makes it less retributive and more vengeful. As long as executions are still going on, it means to me that we all have still lost. To quote Anglican Divine John Donne, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."

And did not Jesus instruct us to pray for our enemies?


[Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007 - To be clear, lest there be misconceptions, the "no small amount of reaction" involved primarily one individual. Other aspects of the "reaction" involved remarks made by parishioners during the coffee hour, most of which carried no positive or negative connotations, but were more inquisitive in tone. The "teaching moment" was not a public forum, but was the rector listening to the complaints of one individual and then explaining the reasoning behind praying for Saddam. I apologize for any confusion, but I realized how what I wrote could be blown out of proportion if one was not present.]

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tonight's Amazing Dinner 

I'm having some folks over for supper tomorrow and I was trying to decide what to cook for them: the main idea was between pork or fish. While talking to one of my guests on the phone, I ascertained that this person had only begun to like eating fish (and Mahi Mahi only, so far, at that) so I decided to relegate my fish idea to tonight and do an old (but delicious) pork favorite tomorrow night.

Too bad for them. I have just finished eating and may I say, y'all have missed out.

As some of you will know, I planted an herb garden in the Fall and they are just now beginning to be big enough and healthy enough to withstand me plucking stalks off of them to use in my kitchen. One of the herbs I was most curious to try was "Orange Mint", the result of a marriage of a peppermint plant with an orange tree, the mechanics of which I am nervous to know, so I'll not inquire. I decided when I planted it that I thought its flavor would go very well with fish. Tonight, I have empirical evidence of my genius.

So, here's what you do to cook what I think I'll call "A Christmastide Flounder".



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Friday, December 22, 2006

Some Ordination Pictures 


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Monday, December 18, 2006

Some Quotes from the Experience 

Before the service:

Fr. Bob McGee: "How are you feeling right now?"
Me: "There are so many people here from so many different areas of my life. To be honest, I'm confused."
Fr. Bob: "May you always be so."

Griffin: (says nothing, but taps the part of the service booklet that reads, If anyone knows of any impediment or crime... and then indicates he would like to be paid a significant sum of money.)

During the service:

Fr. Bob: (looking around at everyone) "You do not get such love without first having such love."

After the service:

Millie: "Ryan Whitley, you are totally ordained!"

Parishioner: "Do you feel different."
Me: "No, not so much different as more complete."


Parishioner: "And after this he's taking the kids to a camp! Can you believe it, he's crazy!"
Fr. Ed: "That's true, but that's not the reason he's taking the kids to the camp. His vocation is taking over."

Lauren: "You are ordained a priest now. We're going to have to discuss that."


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Home Stretch 

"...I tell you I've had enough of this stuff
I tell you what I'm gonna do
I'm letting all these animals out
And I'm gonna burn down this Ark
And I'm going to Florida somewhere
'Cause you haven't done nothin'

I'm sick and tired of all this mess
You foolin' around
And you haven't done nothing!

And you got it rainin'
It's not a shower is it?

Ok Lord me and you right..."

~Bill Cosby


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Making a Path in the Wilderness 

Like I said in my earlier post, I believe this is the best sermon I have delivered to date. I hope you enjoy it.

Make a Path - Advent II, Year C, December 10, 2006 - Delivered at St. Mark's, Tampa, FL


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


There is a story my father tells of two of his older relatives (not knowing most of them real well, they all tend to run together in my mind), in which the husband of this couple says to his wife, "I'm repairin' to go _____." She replies, "Don't you mean preparin'?" "No," say he, "I mean repairin'." "But honey," she retorts, "repairin' means to fix." He quipped back, "I know that. I'm fixin' to go ______!"

And so, I'm spending this week repairin' to be ordained a priest. One might rightly say that I've been repairin' to be ordained a priest for the past seven years, and maybe even before that. But this week, it seems, I'm focusing more on the logistics. There are a lot of plans that need to (and will) fall into place. I'm practicing celebrating the Eucharist, practicing the words and the manual acts - working out the best way to do them so that I can be both authentic to myself and this congregation. I'm practicing my singing and chanting (even taking official voice lessons, as I believe I've mentioned, from a parishioner). I spoke a bit about my own reflections on all of this (specifically on what my call means to me) in my sermon last Sunday, which, in all honesty, may have been the best sermon I've delivered in my entire life. As soon as it's available I'll point you to an audio file of it.

The gravity of what is about to happen is finally settling in a bit. I had a series of four dreams two nights ago, each of which involved death or the threat of death in a different area/aspect of my life. I've taken this to mean that a certain part of me is about to die, so that I may be fully reborn as a priest of Christ's one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. That doesn't make it any less scary, though in the final of the four dreams (which was the most direct and graphic), I had no sensation of fear or pain.

Last month sometime I had a neat ordination dream, too. In it I was walking across the lawn between my house and the church early one Sunday morning. I was to preach that Sunday. As I am walking I realize I am naked, but I am carrying a blue shirt on a hanger over my shoulder. I am not nervous or fearful that I am naked, it is just a matter of fact. I hear the voice of the Boss Man calling from behind me, "I see you." I turn and reply, "I know." I think to myself, "I know I'll get dressed once I get to church."

So God, repair/fix/prepare my heart and soul to hear those words, "...and make him a priest in your Church."


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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of SW Florida 

On the first ballot, by an overwhelming majority of both clergy and laity, the Rev. Dabney Smith was elected to the position of Bishop Coadjutor, and will assume responsibilites of the 5th Diocesan of SW Florida upon Bishop Lipscomb's retirement. May God be with you, Fr. Smith, and with our diocese.


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Friday, December 08, 2006

Anxiety: Fair to Moderate 

The confluence of events occurring in my life right now, or preparing to occur, is astounding. When one considers them, it boggles the mind; when one lets them slow cook on the back burners of the mind, one finds oneself grouchy, anxious, and quick lipped.

Tomorrow is the electing convention for my diocese. You may read that as: tomorrow is the day I find out if the Boss Man will be leaving us to become the Big Boss Man or not. If so, that presents a whole host of other issues and things to be anxious about. If not, things will get back to normal in a week or so.

Next weekend I am being ordained a priest. I'm starting to feel it - wondering if I will be prepared, or even if full preparation is even possible. Feeling the grace of Christ's abounding mercy ever-present, as there is no way I am qualified to do this, to become this, otherwise. And the logistics are driving me up the wall.

I'm preaching this Sunday and have my basic ideas worked out, but am pretty far from a full sermon.

Plans for all the Christmas-y services are underway and consuming.

Plans for taking my youth to Advent Camp, which the diocese cancelled but I said I was doing anyway, are shaping up. Instead of a Diocesan Advent Camp, it will be a St. Mark's Advent Camp. My kids seemed to relish the idea of just us at DaySpring.

But all of these are weighing heavily on my mind and soul. As a result I almost flipped my lid today over some minor slight and subsequent annoyance. The Boss Man called tonight and we talked about each of our anxieties together, agreeing that it was in fact such anxiousness causing our stress levels to bubble up.

And so, calling to mind the film Bad Boys...

Wooo-saa. Wooo-saa. Wooo-saa.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Got Paid Today 

No, it's not payday, at least not cash payday. I know I've talked before on here about how, in the service of God you get paid in sometimes unconventional (at least, to the secular world) ways. When I finished my youth group meeting tonight, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, I opened the door to my house (which is the other 3/4 of the building that we use as the youth house) and found slipped under the door three notes. This is what they said:

And my heart was not so strangely warmed.


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Waking Life, or Sleeping 

Now that the softball season is over (for a month or so until next season begins), my Monday nights are going to be boring. Last night was Monday, so I decided to watch a movie I'd gotten from Netflix. The movie was an animated one, and I typically don't go for animated films, but this one looked like it could have that independant, artistic flair that would make it worthwhile. It was called Waking Life, but as the film progressed and I dozed in and out of bored consciousness, I thought it might have been inappropriately titled. The animation styles employed were very interesting, but the movie was pretty boring. It was like sitting around in a coffee shop at a table of college students who had just taken Philosophy 101 and listening to them try and sound intelligent in their conversation, when all they were actually doing was quoting people like Sartre, Hume, Descartes, and Co. There was one scene in the movie where four young men, who appeared to be members of a politically oriented punk rock band, were walking along and talking when they happen upon an old man who had climbed a telephone pole. They call out to him, "Hey, old man, whatcha doing?" He yelled down, "I don't know!" They asked, "Do you need help getting down?" He said, glancing down, "Naw...don't think so." They walked on, one commenting to the others, "He's not so different from us. He's all action and no theory; we're all theory, no action.

I quickly remarked to myself, "And this film is too much theory, not enough understanding." It tried to be a treatise (usually these are best kept to the medium of writing, as they make for boring films) on existential philosophy, without really having a grasp on what the philosophers were trying to say. Now, I'm not saying that I do, but I would look for more engagement with them than simply watching people sit around and quote them. Anyone who can read can do that.

I gave the movie two stars, because it had so much potential, but, in my opinion, fell flat. Rent at your own risk.


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Amazing Weekend 

And I mean that in every sense of the word: fun, astounding, memorable, astonishing.

Friday night we had movie night for the Youth Group on the new big screen HDTV someone kindly donated to us. We watched "Elf" which was funny enough, but after the movie was over, an enormous pillow fight erupted and it didn't take the kids long to discover how to gang up on ole Fr. Ryan. I held my own, though. One of the other adults there chuckled, "I'm pretty sure that this was covered in 'Safeguarding God's Children'!"

Saturday morning we had Diocesan Convention. The convention voted to do something downright silly that promises to have nothing less than some negative impact in the future. But hey, don't blame me, I didn't get a vote. I also heard that the Boss Man did well at his Bishop Walkabout interview things. Good/not good.

Saturday afternoon: WAKE FOREST WON THE ACC FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP!!! WE'RE GOING TO THE ORANGE BOWL, BABY!!!!! Wake Forest is generally unsure how to play football in the month of January, so this should be interesting, but I think we will pose a fair threat to Louisville.

Saturday night was near-legendary. Not quite as legendary as other nights I've written about on here, but close. It was the softball team's cookout party and it was a blast. Everyone on the team is really cool and just all around fun people to hang out with. And I haven't played Flip-Cup in a looong time. We're gearing up for next season: the little bro has a spot on the team now, which was a great off-season addition. I'll soon be taking the glove expert on the team to Sport's Authority so she can help me get a more appropriate (read: one she likes better that's bigger than the baseball/softball hybrid I have now) glove. That'll be fun. Another of our members won't be able to play on account of a stupid work related move to NYC, so we were bummed by that news. We'll definitely miss both his bat and his glove. But hopefully the little bro can pick up the defensive slack at least, plus there's still a slim chance he won't have to go.

So, that's the news. The news that's fit to print, anyway.


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