The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Pentecost 15 :: Keeping up Appearances

Hyacinth not sit down at the place of honor...

Our Gospel passage from Luke today seems hand-written for Hyacinth Bucket [that’s Bouquet]. Oh, you don’t know who Hyacinth Bucket is? Well, lemme tell ya.

Hyacinth is the lead character and matriarch—of sorts—in the English sitcom “Keeping up Appearances.” As the title implies, she desperately tries to come off as being something she is not: a very high-class, hoity-toity type of woman. Everything in her world is impeccably arranged and proper as she struggles to rise above her middle class lifestyle and present herself, her husband and family—and her home—as something other than middle-class. Hyacinth has a sister, Violet, who actually is upper class, and two sisters, Rose and Daisy, who decidedly are not. Daisy is married to a slob, Onslow [my favorite character], who goes around in a dirty undershirt and while at home always sits in front of the telly smoking cigs, drinking beer, and eating crisps.

Pentecost 13 :: Burn, baby, burn!


Fire is a common symbol of holiness and protection in Holy Scripture. It can represent God's action in the world and quite frequently is used to describe God's Word, "a consuming fire." While sometimes seen as a sign of God's destructive action against the sinful, fire is also descriptive of the purifying work of God's holiness. In the same way that fire is used to purify precious metals, God's purifying fire cleanses people from their sin.

It may seem somewhat odd that, in our Gospel message from St. Luke today, we hear Jesus say, "I came to bring fire to the earth." Isn't Jesus supposed to bring love and mercy and forgiveness? What's all this, then, about bringing fire? Well, that's where we have to see fire as a metaphor for purification and cleansing. Fire may, of course, be destructive, but it can clear out the old underbrush of sin, strife, enmity, pride, greed, etc., etc., that clutters human life. Forest management personnel use fire to clear out dead vegetation and old growth in order to help trees and new vegetation to flourish. Such use of cleansing fire can mitigate the damage done by uncontrolled fires resulting in widespread destruction and possible loss of property and life.

Pentecost 12 :: Hurry up and wait!

Razorback Band

“Hurry up and wait!”

That was the hidden motto of the Razorback Band back in my college days. After hours of rehearsals and marching in formation and honing our halftime routine to perfection, all 260 of us would meet at the Band Hall in the early morning darkness waiting for the buses which would take us to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock for the big game that Saturday.

“Hurry up and wait!”

We were to be at the ready by 5am, in order to board the buses and leave promptly at 6am so that we could arrive at our destination in plenty of time to get in a quick practice before the nationally televised game was to begin. 6am came and went. No buses. 630. No buses.

“Hurry up and wait!”

We’d been through this all before. Whether it was waiting for a bus to arrive or waiting for the football team to get off the field so we could rehearse on a Friday afternoon, or just waiting for the drum major to blow his whistle, it was always, “Hurry up and wait!” We were ready. Why weren’t they? Let’s get this thing going. All this rushing around just to get there on time, and nothing. We could’ve taken an extra fifteen minute break!

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