Searching for words

The following is what I shared with my parish in our weekly Epistle:

Beloved in Christ

It may be hard to imagine, but there are actually times in my life as a minister of the Gospel where I just don’t know what to say. Witnessing the events from Wednesday at our nation’s capital has brought me to that place again. I am sure you know what I mean. That sickening feeling, that “can this really be happening” moment when your brain tries to convince you this is not possibly real. I know I cannot stay stuck there, but honestly it is hard not to.

And then I remember my ordination vows, which include these words:

As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing…In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of his grace and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.

“Strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.”

I said yes to those vows almost 20 years ago. I am certain I have fallen short in fulfilling them on many occasions. For this occasion, I am asking God, just how do I do this? And God responds, “you already know the answer. You can’t, except through me. It’s time to pray.”

So, I am calling us to pray. Pray fervently, pray often, pray with words and with silence. Let us seek God’s face, God’s will, God’s grace, God’s wisdom, for ourselves and all others, to truly “care alike” for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor; and especially for all those without words. Will you join me? We can start with this prayer from our prayer book. And remember my friends, God loves you and I do too. It’s Epiphany. The light has come.

For the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Fr. David+

Shortly after writing this and sending it to my parishioners, we received this message from our Bishop, The Rt. Reverend Russell Kendrick. It amazed me how closely connected our thoughts were. Maybe the Holy Spirit is in the midst of this after all? Click the link to read his excellent post:

Christ the King

I am not sure what led me to try this. Perhaps a great lack of sleep? Insomnia ruled last night. Some of these words were buzzing in my head so I thought I would offer them. I don’t write poetry, but here goes…


It is Christ the King Sunday

or so we are told

by some while

others mock and scream Papist

Yet does the calendar deserve the blame or the fame

Is Christ the King

the better question

what is a king who is the Christ

We are told of a two edged sword thrusting

from his holy mouth

Riding his white horse

Ah! The horses the horses come

other ones displaying proudly their colors

Some shriek death and pain and war

Is this the king we deserve

And is that what matters with this king

The King of Love my Shepard is

Or perhaps. Mayhap. 

The Shepard of Love my King is

In this I hope

And cling

And scream

And wish the horses away

All Souls

All Souls Day

While I know the attention of most of the nation is on Election Eve, a reminder today is All Souls Day, when we reflect, remember, and pray for those who have made the transition from this life to the next.

Today I spent some time in our chapel, thinking and praying about those close to me and my family whom have died. Of course the death of Jennifer’s mother, Jacquie Forrester, in July, is fresh on my mind and heart. I had the enormous privilege of officiating and preaching her funeral. 91 years old, suffering from Alzheimer’s and then a broken hip, her last days were not what anyone would have wanted. Basically she was alone in a long term care facility with COVID restrictions. The terrible impact of this pandemic is far more reaching than just those who have suffered from the disease itself. I am grateful several of us were able to spend time with her at the end, but forever disappointed in the circumstances. Jacquie was a hero of mine, someone I loved dearly and who will impact the life of many for a long time to come.

Jacquie died almost 4 years to the day we lost my father. They are buried in the same cemetery in Hattiesburg, sacred ground for the Knight and Forrester families of course. As my grandchildren grow I really miss them knowing my dad, his humor and advice stay with me always.

I also thought of my dear Aunt Sharlie, who died in 2006. She was my mom’s younger sister and the closest thing to a female sibling myself and my brothers had. She was so funny and so dedicated to helping others. She visited us often at seminary in Chicago, and my kids, along with all her nieces and nephews, adored her. Today I could hear her wonderful laugh echoing in the chapel.

We also lost this summer my Daughter Mackenzie’s father-in-law, David Taylor Sr. He died very unexpectedly just after Jennifer’s mother died. His loss is heavy and real, an unassuming man who gave and gave and gave. Multi talented, funny, and we shared grandpa duties for Juby and Mills who adored him. Big O they called him. His loss will be felt forever but his legacy continues in his two sons and their families.

Sitting in a church chapel led me to think of a tradition in the Diocese of Mississippi we had at Clergy Conference every fall – the Dead Priests Society. Without going into too many details (they are fun and moving), what I miss the most about it is what we would do on the last evening of Clergy Conference each year. We would gather together around a make shift grave and pass a candle around the circle. As we held the candle each of us would take the opportunity to name a priest who had died and who was important to us and our vocations. It would be passed several times around the circle as we offered these blessed names. This year I would have loved the chance to say The Rev. Arnold Bush’s name. Arnold died this past January. He was my first Episcopal Priest, a man of amazing energy, intelligence, passion, and grace. I think of Arnold often and the influence he has been on my life. Arnold Bush, I raise a candle to you my dear friend and mentor.

These are the things that are lasting and important. Don’t forget them in the noise of the next few days. God is ever with us, life is short, and we need to spend our time loving and learning and serving God and each other. To Dad, to Jacquie, to Sharlie, to Arnold – bless you and thank you. May you Rest In Peace and rise in glory.

St. Simon’s post-Sally Update

I write especially to the people of St. Simon’s.

My friends, I hope you are doing ok under these trying conditions. The church still does not have power and we are unsure when Gulf Power can get to us. Consequently we cannot host services this weekend. I will live stream from my home at 9:30 Sunday morning.

The lack of power also means the phones are out. My cell, if you need it, is 561-400-6428.

Saturday morning at 9am we will meet to clean up the grounds. It is a mess! Bring a mask and WEAR CLOSED TOE SHOES! We’ve already had someone step on a nail. If you have gloves and any tools like rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows that would help.

At 11am on Saturday we will pause briefly for prayer and a simple Eucharist. This will be our only “in person” service this weekend. If you are unable to help with cleanup, you are still most welcome to come for this service. We will be socially distanced and wearing masks. Parking is limited but I am hoping we can use next door if needed. You cannot park in the back or use the drive around the building.

Inside, there is a lot of water intrusion in walls and baseboards. We are working on that now but due to the lack of AC due to power, it is not safe inside for anyone with breathing issues. We have the inside under control, minus the water cleanup, demo, and restoration efforts. We will only be working outside Saturday unless some demolition happens before then and we need to remove materials.

Stay safe everyone and I pray you have power! God bless.

It’s Pentecost Y’all

This Sunday, May 31st, the church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost. 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, his followers have done what he asked when he was about to ascend to God the Father – gather together and pray. Pray they do and on that first Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descended in wind and sound and flame – the church of Jesus was born, the disciples of Jesus empowered, the world never to be the same.

It has been over 10 weeks since we could gather together for in-person worship. We are steadily working towards the day when we can do so again. But we will not do so until we are as certain as we can be that the situation in our community warrants the attempt.

Even when we do, church will be very, very different. Precautions we must take will make it so. We will have detailed information for you when that time comes of course. Also, OF COURSE, no one should feel obligated to attend in-person worship until they themselves are ready and comfortable doing so. We will do our best to lower the risks, but we all know that no plan is full proof and we cannot completely eliminate risk. I am counting on each of you to make mature and safe decisions which are best for you.

But it IS Pentecost this Sunday, so we will do something different. As you probably have seen in Wednesday’s email, last Sunday’s announcements, and elsewhere in the Epistle, we are encouraging a Pentecost parade to the church via cars, where you will be able to receive communion for the 1st time since the Covid shut down took affect. Those details are in the Epistle and on our Facebook page and website. I am greatly looking forward to seeing many of you, masks on of course, and sharing communion with you. I too have fasted from receiving all this time. I could receive, following the prayer book rubrics, but it felt very wrong for all of you to fast from communion while I did not. So I chose early on not to. There are those who believe the Eucharist is not “valid” unless the priest, at least, receives. Since none of us are receiving I am not sure why that would matter anyway. As we have heard over and over – we are all in this together, and I decided that would apply to clergy receiving communion as well. It is a heart breaking act on Sunday when we consecrate a little wine and bread and then immediately place it in the aumbry. Something is missing in our lives, in our souls. But fasting from communion does help us want it all the more, so we are attempting a way to share the body of our Lord this Sunday.

So with the Bishop’s permission, we will consecrate extra wafers this week, the people present in person for the live streaming (all 3 of us!) will receive and then you will too, if you desire to drive down and join the parade. This offering may stretch the bounds of sacramental theology a bit, but I think going straight from the altar to you as you drive up, having participated in the Eucharist via live stream and prayed as those first disciples did for the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ, this distribution is certainly valid. I cannot tell you if we will do it this way again, but I can tell you – I can’t wait!

There is a wonderful Orthodox theologian, now deceased, named Alexander Schmemann who wrote a great book about Eucharist, called For the Life of the World. In it he declares the procession at the beginning of church actually begins when each of you get in your cars and back out of your driveway. You, by that action, are making a public statement about your faith. Let’s do that Sunday, all who are able. Watch the live stream first (that is quite important to all this actually). Wear Pentecost red and take pics and send them to my wife, Jennifer ( for future slide shows. Then from noon to one, arrive at the church for communion, and maybe even a little Holy Water. Some of you may want to decorate your cars, feel free! Cause it is PENTECOST Y’ALL! Time for a parade. Time for the body of Christ to receive the body of Christ. Hope to see you in procession. I love and miss you all.

Fr. David+

Itinerant: noun. a person who alternates between working and wandering.