Volume 23, November 2, 2020
From the Rector
The Bishop’s Institute for Ministry and Leadership was established in 2015 in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida to provide opportunities to develop lay and clergy leadership in the Diocese; to prepare candidates for ordination to the vocational diaconate and the local priesthood; to prepare candidates for licensed lay ministries and to be a focus for the continuing education for laity and clergy alike.
FOR ALL THE SAINTS
I say of the holy people who are in the land, "They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight." Psalm 16.3

I love this verse from Psalm 16. It speaks of all the real life good people we meet here in our earthly pilgrimage. Some may be outgoing and lively, others more inward yet calming and peaceful but each in his or her way has helped us on our way. In times of difficulty or despair, one can look to them and feel encouraged and strengthened to carry on. In times of transition their encouraging word or example can be just enough to transform for the better our life. My observance of All Saints Day would be incomplete without remembering the individuals who have supported me over the course of my life.

I love what the poet W.H. Auden once wrote about real life saints who inspired him:

I have met in my life two persons, one a man, the other a woman, who convinced me that they were persons of sanctity. Utterly different in character, upbringing and interests as they were, their effect on me was the same. In their presence I felt myself to be ten times as nice, ten times as intelligent, ten times as good-looking as I really am. (W.H. Auden, A Certain World.)

We should not under-estimate the influence others have on our lives. Even the quietest word, example or gesture can be transformative. Someone has said that when we invite God into our lives, He never seeks to change what we are but he transforms us into what we have the potential to become. And so it is with the Christian saints who are our teachers and mentors in life. There is a little story about the artist John Constable that illustrates this beautifully. I am ever grateful to an older priest I knew, Ron Lloyd, for sharing this story.

John Constable (1776-1837) was one of the greatest artists that England has ever produced, and is considered one of the greatest landscape painters in the history of art. On one occasion, at the height of his fame, while staying at a resort on holiday, he met a young girl of eleven staying at the same resort with her family. She spent most all of her time absorbed in painting.

One day Constable came across the girl trying her best to paint a landscape scene but with no apparent success and with much struggle. He stood quietly by and watched her. He smiled as he watched her try to make the paint behave itself and he saw her become more and more frustrated.

The great man went over and stood by her and asked her for her brush. The girl handed it over. With a few quick strokes, Constable, without in any way altering what the girl had done, transformed the painting into a thing of beauty.

The Lord is glorious in his saints. O come, let us adore him. Amen.
Bishop’s Institute e-Newsletter original:

How to Listen to a Sermon
by the Rev. Dr Earl Palmer
As an outstanding expository preacher Earl Palmer has taught pastors and priests a lot of good things about preaching. Here, for the Bishop’s Institute e-Newsletter, Dr Palmer offers words of encouragement and advice to lay men and women on how a Christian sitting in a pew might open heart and mind to receive the Word of God through listening to a sermon. His article is attached and I strongly encourage you to read and enjoy it.
But first, it might be helpful to explain a little about Dr Palmer’s commitment to what is called expositional preaching in contrast to thematic preaching. The latter is what we more often hear from the pulpit and I confess, personally, the category of preaching in which my sermons usually fall.

In an interview Dr Palmer gave to Seattle Pacific University’s Response journal he explained how he came to read the Bible and how that led further to his commitment to expository preaching. He came to Christian faith and to know the Bible by accepting an invitation to a men’s Bible study group while an undergraduate at the University of California-Berkeley. Of that encounter he writes:

I saw men my own age looking at the New Testament and reading it through adult eyes... I had to go out and buy a Bible.

This led to “three renaissance years” at Princeton Seminary, where he gained experience as a Bible study leader. Of leading a Bible study he writes:

I wasn’t trying to be an evangelist. I was just opening the text. … I became convinced that if I could get someone to look at the text, sooner or later the text would win their respect, and it would always point them to its living center: Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ has your respect, that’s not very many inches away from faith.

In the Response article Dr Palmer goes on to explain what bothers him about thematic preaching:

When a preacher proclaims his views on a theme, bolstered with Scripture verses, the congregation misses an opportunity to experience textual revelation...

If you just tell them something, that doesn’t mean they’ve got it. Rather than trying to steer the text toward an issue, Palmer recommended that leaders let the text steer.

He defined expositional preaching as:

The task of enabling the text to make its own point, within the whole context of the gospel, and then affirming that message with persuasiveness and joyful urgency to the people in today’s language.

According to Dr Palmer:

Once congregations understand the Bible in its original context, then they can explore what it conveys to them today.

This dynamic encounter with the text, he says, may help listeners:

See it before you [the pastor] say it … and that’s the most electric moment in preaching. When a pastor allows listeners to make their own journey to revelation--- the gospel becomes personal.
  
 
Excerpt from the article: Remember always that there is a mystery that can happen at the heart of every genuine affirmation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – when the Holy Spirit completes and fulfills the sermon by a human preacher with communication of the good news of faith, hope and love. That becomes the amazing grace – the very best, “ah ha” moment!

A WORK IN PROGRESS
There is after all something in Christian saintliness which eludes analysis. For saintliness is the partial expression, the reflection in the external life, of the hidden man of the heart, who is not fully known even to the saint himself; and it is always imperfect, because it is always going on to perfection.

I will not have my portrait painted, said a holy man; for which man do you want to paint? One of them is not worth painting, and the other is not finished yet.

W.R. Inge (1860-1954) sometime Dean of St Paul’s London and author of many books on Christian spirituality including Types of Christian Saintliness from which the quote above is taken.

All The Leaves Are Brown
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed
Psalm 102.26
November is glorious in the celebration of All Saints but it is also a period of transition to winter. Watching the leaves turn and fall and then, suddenly, the bare trees--- always reminds me of the 1960s song ‘California Dreamin’: All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey . . . California dreamin on such a winter’s day.

I am reminded too every Fall of some words St Cyprian (c. 200-258 AD) wrote to a friend of his, Demetrianus, from Carthage, where he was Bishop. St Cyprian wrote at a time in history when men and women were conscious, as some of us may feel now, that they were coming to the end of a whole way of life in the world. The Roman Empire would exist in some form or another for another two centuries yet the ancient world was moving toward what we have come to call the “dark ages." St Cyprian wrote:

The world itself now bears witness to its approaching end by the evidence of its failing powers. There is not so much rain in winter for fertilizing the seeds, nor in summer is there so much warmth for ripening them. The springtime is no longer so mild, nor the autumn so rich in fruit. Less marble is quarried from the exhausted mountains, and the dwindling supplies of gold and silver show that the mines are worked out and the impoverished veins of metal diminish from day to day. The peasant is failing and disappearing from the fields, the sailor at sea, the soldier in the camp, uprightness in the forum, justice in the court, concord in friendships, skill in the arts, discipline in morals. 

Can anything that is old preserve the same powers that it had in the prime and vigor of its youth? It is inevitable that whatever is tending downwards to decay and approaches its end must decrease in strength, like the setting sun and the waning moon, and the dying tree and the failing stream. This is the sentence passed on the world; this is God’s law: that all that has risen should fall and that all that has grown should wax old, and that strong things should become weak and great things should become small, and that when they have been weakened and diminished they should come to an end.
November Quiz
For this month’s quiz, Dr. Dupree suggested that the subject be centered around St. Margaret’s Church in Fleming Island. This coincided with a presentation based upon the recent publication of the book The Fleming’s of Fleming Island (Florida Historical Society Press: Cocoa, Florida, 2019) by Dr. Scott Ritchie. Scott married into the Fleming family, now in its 7th generation in our Diocese, with a legacy that includes former governor of Florida Francis Fleming, many descendants and one of our most charming chapels, St. Margaret’s-Hibernia. It is to Scott that we turn for questions for the November and December history trivia quizzes, and hopefully a live lecture to follow in May 2021. His book is highly commended in the meantime. Thanks, Scott, and see you next year.

Allison+

SCOTT RITCHIE’S QUIZ QUESTIONS

1.    True or False

During the Civil War, Union military leaders believed Margaret Fleming was a spy for the Confederacy.

2.    True or False

George Fleming built a plantation he named Hibernia in the raw wilderness of what eventually became known as Fleming Island.
     
3. Fill in the blank.

L. I. Fleming Sr. and his son L.I. Fleming, Jr. died in Jacksonville within two days of each other because of _____________________________.

4.    Lewis Fleming supervised construction of the beautiful “Fleming Mansion” on Fleming Island in 1858 because:

a.    A natural disaster destroyed their previous
b.    Indians destroyed their previous home
c.    An arsonist destroyed their previous home
d.    None of the above

5.    George Fleming married Sophia Fatio. For most of their lives together they lived in ___________________.


6.    Margaret Seton Fleming is responsible for the construction and creation of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Hibernia. The first official service at St. Margaret’s was for:

a.    The wedding of her son, Frederic, to Margaret Baldwin, making his bride the next Margaret Fleming
b.    Margaret Seton Fleming’s funeral
c.    A celebration of Margaret’s ancestor, Saint Margaret of Scotland
d.    None of the above

7.    True or False

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church was built immediately adjacent to the Fleming family graveyard.



THE RECTOR'S BOOK PICKS

Books for Advent
We all grumble about the ‘commercialization’ of Christmas and the distractions of the season that leave us so brain and spirit addled we can not think straight and certainly not think on those things of the Spirit that are the solid hallmark of Advent and Christmas. One sure antidote to this restlessness is to select something good to read from daily during Advent. Here are just a few possible choices you might like to consider. I try to decide on what I will read in advance and have it in hand before the first day of Advent (that this year will be Sunday, November 29.)

A Light Has Dawned: Meditations on Advent and Christmas (Best of Christianity Today), (Hardback, October, 2020).

God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
(Paperback, 2010).

Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship, encyclical letter 2020, Pope Francis (Our Sunday Visitor publisher and release date November 4, 2020.) This edition on Amazon includes a group study guide with the text.

The Art of Advent: A Painting a Day from Advent to Epiphany, Jane Williams (Paperback, 2018).

I Witness: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmas, Kate Moorehead, (Paperback, 2017).

Walking Backwards to Christmas, Stephen Cottrell, (Paperback, 2015).

Dying and the Virtues, Matthew Levering, (Hardback, Erdmans, 2018).

Wake Up to Advent!, John Sentamu, (Paperback, SPCK, 2019).
Happy Thanksgiving
A table grace found inscribed on the wall of a medieval monastery (recorded by Alcuin, c.735-804):

He who makes a feast of dew1, drink from a rock2,
Turned flowing water to Falernian wine3,
And walked dry-shod across the waves of the sea4—-
May he in kindness bless his gifts to his servants.
1’a feast of dew’: Exodus 16.13-15. 13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.
2’drink from a rock’: Exodus 17.6: Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
3’turned flowing water into Falernian wine’: John 2:7,9-10: Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. . . When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
NB: Falernian wine from Mount Falernus in Italy was considered the most renowned wine produced in ancient Rome and was considered so throughout the Empire.
As part of the ruins of ancient Pompeii, a price list on the wall of a bar establishment notes
For one as you can drink wine
For two you can drink the best
For four you can drink Falernian

(The Pompeii citation is from, where else, Wikipedia.)
4 ‘And walked dry-shod across the waves of the sea’: Isaiah 11.15: The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dry-shod. Matthew 14.25: And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Gathering Manna by Dieric Bouts the Elder, c.1464-1468