Monday Musing for 4.12.21


Dear Friends,

A couple of weeks ago I sent you a humorous list of ten good things about the Episcopal Church. Little did I know I had set in motion a chain of events that would lead to today’s Monday Musing.

David Peterson, in Anthem, Arizona, read what I wrote and told me he was enjoying the autobiography of the controversial Episcopal Bishop, John Shelby Spong.  I immediately ordered that book from the library, and in it is mentioned another Episcopal Bishop, Neff Powell (see picture below).  I knew Neff when he was just getting started (as was I).  He was vicar at the tiny St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Forest Grove, Oregon.  I still have a Book of Common Prayer he had given me, but we hadn’t talked in 41 years.  I looked him up (not hard to do these days) and we had a delightful telephone conversation on Saturday.  I told him that I still use his book and I still have a copy of a sermon I preached in his church when he was on vacation.

Here is the introduction.  This was preached on June 1, 1980.

It was in my second year in seminary when my roommate and I decided to have a telephone installed in our room. Always before I had considered a telephone a luxury that I could do without. But circumstances had changed. That summer I had met the girl I was eventually going to marry. She was going to school in Vancouver, Washington. I was going to school in Denver, Colorado.  A telephone was no longer a luxury. It was a necessity. So my roommate and I agreed to split the cost (although with my long distance bills it was never a very even split) and we had a telephone installed in our room. My first phone call was, not surprisingly, to Helen.  I told her our phone number and she promised to call me back at an agreed upon time.  Finally, our agreed upon time came.  I sat anxiously by the phone waiting for it to ring — and waiting — and waiting.  It never rang.

What I didn’t know was that when our telephone was installed, the bell was not hooked up.  We could call out, but when other people called in, the phone would not ring and we would have no way of knowing we were being called.  So there Helen was in Vancouver waiting impatiently for me to answer the phone.  And there I was in Denver waiting impatiently for the phone to ring.

Eventually my patience ran out and I called Helen.  I said, “Why didn’t you call?”  And she said, “I’ve been calling you continually for the last 15 minutes!  Why didn’t you answer?”

God is continually calling us.  But sometimes we don’t pick up the phone.

The sermon goes on from there. Be thankful I never preached it here. The introduction was the best part.

In Christ,