25 December 2013

Get the kid his peaches...snagged from Fiat Lux!

A wonderful story.  Well-worth a few minutes of your time.  I snagged it from JimR at "FiatLux" Blog

A Christmas story: Get the kid his peaches

Here, friends, is a Christmas story worth telling. This is an old column that ran in the Los Angeles Times by Al Martinez, who I think is one of the greats for a lot of reasons. I love this column every time I read it and I hope you will, too.  And explains why a lot of us went into newspapers back in the days before cell phones, the internet and focus groups. And if you want to know why I think the priesthood and journalism are closer than many people think, this has something to do with it. My newspaper buddy Bob Schmidt sent this around again tonight, so thanks Bob!  Here goes. Enjoy:

Christmas Story
By Al Martinez

IT happened one Christmas Eve a long time ago in a place called Oakland on a newspaper called the Tribune with a city editor named Alfred P. Reck.

I was working swing shift on general assignment, writing the story of a boy who was dying of leukemia and whose greatest wish was for fresh peaches.

It was a story which, in the tradition of 1950s journalism, would be milked for every sob we could squeeze from it, because everyone loved a good cry on Christmas.

We knew how to play a tear-jerker in those days, and I was full of the kinds of passions that could make a sailor weep.

I remember it was about 11 o'clock at night and pouring rain outside when I began putting the piece together for the next day's editions.

Deadline was an hour away, but an hour is a lifetime when you're young and fast and never get tired.

Then the telephone rang.

It was Al Reck calling, as he always did at night, and he'd had a few under his belt.

Reck was a drinking man. With diabetes and epilepsy, hard liquor was about the last thing he ought to be messing with, but you didn't tell Al what he ought to or ought not to do.

He was essentially a gentle man who rarely raised his voice, but you knew he was the city editor, and in those days the city editor was the law and the word in the newsroom.

But there was more than fear and tradition at work for Al.

We respected him immensely, not only for his abilities as a newsman, but for his humanity. Al was sensitive both to our needs and the needs of those whose names and faces appeared in the pages of the Oakland Tribune.

"What's up?" he asked me that Christmas Eve in a voice as soft and slurred as a summer breeze.

He already knew what was up because, during 25 years on the city desk, Reck somehow always knew what was up, but he wanted to hear it from the man handling the story.

I told him about the kid dying of leukemia and about the peaches and about how there simply were no fresh peaches, but it still made a good piece. We had art and a hole waiting on page one.

Al listened for a moment and then said, "How long's he got?"

"Not long," I said. "His doctor says maybe a day or two."

There was a long silence and then Al said, "Get the kid his peaches."

"I've called all over," I said. "None of the produce places in the Bay Area have fresh peaches. They're just plain out of season. It's winter."

"Not everywhere. Call Australia."

"Al," I began to argue, "it's after 11 and I have no idea . . .”

"Call Australia," he said, and then hung up.

If Al said call Australia, I would call Australia.

I don't quite remember whom I telephoned, newspapers maybe and agricultural associations, but I ended up finding fresh peaches and an airline that would fly them to the Bay Area before the end of Christmas Day.

There was only one problem. Customs wouldn't clear them. They were an agricultural product and would be hung up at San Francisco International at least for a day, and possibly forever.

Reck called again. He listened to the problem and told me to telephone the secretary of agriculture and have him clear the peaches when they arrived.

"It's close to midnight," I argued. "His office is closed."

"Take this number down," Reck said. "It's his home. Tell him I told you to call."

It was axiomatic among the admirers of Al Reck that he knew everyone and everyone knew him, from cops on the street to government leaders in their Georgetown estates. No one knew how Al knew them or why, but he did.

I made the call. The secretary said he'd have the peaches cleared when they arrived and give Al Reck his best.

"All right," Reck said on his third and final call to me, "now arrange for one of our photographers to meet the plane and take the peaches over to the boy's house."

He had been drinking steadily throughout the evening and the slurring had become almost impossible to understand.

By then it was a few minutes past midnight, and just a heartbeat and a half to the final deadline.

"Al," I said, "if I don't start writing this now I'll never get the story in the paper."

I won't forget this moment.

"I didn't say get the story," Reck replied gently. "I said get the kid his peaches."

If there is a flash point in our lives to which we can refer later, moments that shape our attitudes and affect our futures, that was mine.

Alfred Pierce Reck had defined for me the importance of what we do, lifting it beyond newsprint and deadline to a level of humanity that transcends job. He understood not only what we did but what we were supposed to do.

I didn't say get the story. I said get the kid his peaches.

The boy got his peaches and the story made the home edition, and I received a lesson in journalism more important than any I've learned since.

I wanted you to know that this Christmas season.

Al Martinez is a former reporter and columnist for The Oakland Tribune, from 1955 to 1971, The Richmond Independent and Los Angeles Times to now. Born in Oakland, he also has written several novels, for television and the movies. This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 25, 1986.

23 December 2013

The Greening of the Church at St. Paul's Memorial, Charlottesville!

The "Greening of the Church" yesterday at St. Paul's Memorial Church, in preparation for Christmas!  What a wonderful group of folks we have who did some amazing arrangements of greens all over our beautiful church!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

22 December 2013

To everything there is a season

To everything there is a season ...

I have decided to take some Sabbathtime away from SantosWoodcarvingPopsicles.  What started nearly 7 years ago as a place where I would write, reflect, and share about my thoughts and observations has gone through a few changes in focus.  From my years at St. Catherine's School to my years at Emmanuel Church, Greenwood, and now at St. Paul's Memorial I have found that I am writing less and less in this place, and am posting and reposting more and more of other people's writing and postings.  After these 6+ years I am considering beginning something anew, but have decided to take a bit of time away, and to do this intentionally, rather than let it flicker and wane.  I have enjoyed having this as a place to share my thoughts and as a place where I could share writing that didn't fit into sermons, newsletter articles or published essays.  For now, however, I will step back from SantosWoodcarvingPopsicles, beginning on December 24th I will close down the blog.  Perhaps it will arise in some new form, we shall see.

Blessings to all who have followed the blog from time to time over the last 6+ years.

With Love and Prayers,


"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." Exodus 20:8

"Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy." ~ Exodus 20:8

15 December 2013

Stir up your power

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

13 December 2013

Draw near

My heart cries out to you, O God. Please draw near to me. The moment I reach out for You, I find You reaching in for me. Circle us, Lord. Keep darkness out, keep light within. Keep fear without, keep peace within. Keep hatred out, keep love within. 

(From Celtic Worship Through the Year)

12 December 2013

Yours is the day, O God, yours also is the night

Yours is the day, O God, yours also the night; you established the moon and the sun. You fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. Psalm 74:15,16

11 December 2013

Confirmation Class in the New Year

Confirmation Class in the New Year

 If you are interested in being confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church when Bishop Gulick visits us in the Spring, we will be offering a confirmation class on Wednesday Evenings for six weeks in January and February. (January 8th – February 12th from 7pm-8pm.) This class will be taught by our Senior Associate Rector, Peter Carey and is open to young people 14 years and older as well as adults. The class will have some homework and participants should be willing to commit to the class for the entire six weeks.

If you are interested in taking the six-week class, please be in touch with Peter by January 1, 20014 by email at peter.carey@stpaulsmemorial.org or by phone in the Parish Office so he can speak with you about your interest and get you materials before we begin on January 8th.

09 December 2013

Five VTS professors honored with Endowed chairs

Congrats to my former professors who were honored by Virginia Theological Seminary with Endowed Chairs!  Wonderful!

Five Professors Honored with Endowed Chairs


Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: 703-461-1782
Email: cprather@vts.edu

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Upon recommendation of the Dean and President, the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., the  Virginia Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously appointed five members of the Seminary faculty to endowed chairs at their November 13 meeting.
“Without exception, all these professors have published significant works and served the Church with distinction. The Board was pleased to vote in favor of the resolution that authorized these chairs,” said Markham. “Please join me in congratulating these recipients on this appropriate recognition. Their contributions and accomplishments make VTS a strong and vibrant seminary.”
The Rev. Anne Katherine Grieb, Ph.D.  was appointed to the Meade Chair in Biblical Interpretation. Grieb came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 1994 and is Professor of New Testament.  After graduating from VTS in 1983, she earned a doctorate degree at Yale and taught at Bangor Theological Seminary before returning to teach at VTS. In her twenty years of service at Virginia Theological Seminary she has been a participant in the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, a member of the Anglican Communion Covenant Design Group and now serves on the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order. Grieb is the author of The Story of Romans: A Narrative Defense of God's Righteousness (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002) as well as co-editor for The Word Leaps the Gap (Eerdmans, 2008).
The Rev. James Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D. was appointed to the Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Chair in Pastoral Theology and Continuing Education. Hawkins came to VTS in 2000 as Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. Currently, he is Vice President for Institutional Advancement and oversees the Lifetime Theological Education office at VTS. Hawkins also serves as President of the North American Committee of St. George’s College, Jerusalem, and honorary associate at Immanuel Church-on-the Hill, Alexandria, Va. The author and editor of several books, including Episcopal Etiquette & Ethics: Living the Craft of Priesthood in the Episcopal Church (Church Publishing, 2012) as well as The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anglican Communion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), Hawkins has an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School and a Ph.D. in American Religious Studies from Duke University.
The Rev. Joyce Mercer, Ph.D.  was appointed to the Arthur Lee Kinsolving Chair in Pastoral Theology. Mercer came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 2006 after serving as a faculty member of Graduate Theological Union in California and Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Mercer is currently Professor of Practical Theology. She completed a doctorate at Emory University, earned a D.Min. from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago; a Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut; and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA for twenty-eight years, Mercer is the author of several books including GirlTalk Godtalk: Why Faith Matters to Adolescent Girls-And Their Parents (San Francisco, Jossey Bass, 2008) and Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2005).
The Rev. Katherine Sonderegger, Ph.D. was appointed to the William Meade Chair in Systematic Theology. Sonderegger came to Virginia Theological Seminary in 2002 and is currently Professor of Theology. In her eleven years of service at VTS, Sonderegger has published work on assessing the thought of Karl Barth and is currently writing the first volume of her systematic theology. In addition, she serves on the editorial board for International Journal of Systematic Theology, New Studies in Dogmatics. She completed her doctorate at Brown University; earned a D.Min. and STM from Yale and an A.B. in Medieval Studies from Smith College. Sonderegger is the author of several articles and papers, and the book That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew: Karl Barth's 'Doctrine of Israel' (Penn State Press, 1992).
The Rev. John Yueh-Han Yieh, Ph.D. was appointed to the Molly Laird Downs Chair in New Testament. Yieh serves as Professor of New Testament having joined the faculty in 1995. In his eighteen years of service, he has written and contributed to a number of books, articles and essays on the Gospel of Matthew, Johannine Epistles, Revelation and Chinese biblical interpretation. Yieh earned a Ph.D., M.Phil. and an M.A. in religious studies specializing in New Testament from Yale University;  an M.Div. from Taiwan Theological Seminary; and an M.A. from Fu-Jen Catholic University. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, Yieh is currently the President of the Ethnic Chinese Biblical Colloquium and is Moderator of the Chesterbrook Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, Va. An associate editor of the Chinese Union Study Bible series, Yieh is also the author of Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew (Morehouse Publishing, 2012).
With a combined seventy years of service to Virginia Theological Seminary, the five professors receiving an endowed chair join a distinguished history of Christian educators at VTS who have received this honor, including current colleagues Stephen L. Cook, Ph.D., Amelia J. Gearey Dyer, Ph.D., the Rev. Robert W. Prichard, Ph.D.  and Timothy F. Sedgwick, Ph.D.
"I would also like to extend my thanks to the Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D., our vice president for academic affairs,” added Markham. ”She spoke movingly about the ways in which faculty can be recognized by an institution and explained that beyond tenure and movement from assistant to associate to full professor, the highest accolade that an institution can bestow is the invitation to occupy an endowed chair.”
Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.

08 December 2013

Who makes these changes?

Who makes these changes?
Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
Chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
And end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
And fall in.

I should be suspicious
Of what I want.

06 December 2013

Bishop Mariann Budde on the death of Nelson Mandela

Bishop Mariann Budde on the death of Nelson Mandela:

By Mariann Edgar Budde
While we’ve known that Nelson Mandela has been near death for some time, still the news of his death is saddening. We have lived our entire lives with Mandela’s moral example in front of us. I remember as a seminarian standing outside the South African embassy listening to Bishop John T. Walker demand Mandela’s release from prison. I remember the joy I felt the day Mandela walked out a free man with dignity and grace, and how the whole world felt redeemed when he was elected president.

The good people of this diocese, who lived through and took part in the anti-apartheid struggle, now have partnerships and close friendships throughout South Africa. Today we join together in, holding Nelson Mandela’s family and the South African people before God in prayer.  We join the world in grief and gratitude, and we rededicate ourselves to the values Mandela demonstrated that we can, in fact, live by, even when it costs us everything.

Plans are underway across the globe to honor Nelson Mandela’s life. You can be sure our diocese will take part in the mourning and the remembrance. As soon as our plans are complete, I will let you know.

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, D.Min.
Bishop of Washington

Dear Friends,

Remembering a great day at Grace Episcopal School for Malcolm Lester's Installation last year

A year ago, I had the great privilege to help to "install" my old friend, Malcolm Lester, as the Head of School at Grace Episcopal Day School in Silver Spring, Maryland.  It was a homecoming of sorts for me because I served as a seminarian intern at Grace Church, Silver  Spring, while I was in seminary.  It was wonderful to see old friends and to meet the current bishop of Washington, The Rt. Rev. Marianne Budde.

05 December 2013

"Not bitterness, but joy!" ~ Nelson Mandela

Here's what Nelson Mandela said to Vermont's senator, Patrick Leahy in Washington in 1994:

"Patrick, because of my imprisonment I was able to lead my country out of apartheid. For that I do not feel bitterness, but joy"

hat tip goes to my friend Olivier Knox who posted this on his Twitter page: https://twitter.com/OKnox

01 December 2013

Cast away the works of darkness

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.