Jazz Funeral in Key West

16 10 2010

Today was a powerful and moving celebration of the life of Edwar Riou “Tucker” Weech, a life-long parishioner of St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Key West. He is survived by his wife, Mary (who sings in our choir), children, grand-children and great-grandchildren. The family arrived to the accompaniment of a jazz band, and the family joined us in procession as Fr Don’s sonorous tones read from the Burial Office of the Prayer Book, “I am the Resurrection and the Life…”

Hymns were sung, family members and friends lent their offerings of song and anecdotes and spoken thanksgivings for the way Tucker laid an indelible mark on their lives. Following the recessional, we assembled in front of St Peter’s, family first in cars, followed by Jeffrey, who was Thurifer, then the Crucifer. The altar party lined up 2 by 2, Father Don and our Deacon, Sarah, in front, the subdeacon and myself behind them. Behind us were ladies from the Order of the Eastern Star, all in white, then the jazz band, the hearse, and others.

The band fired up, and off we went, to the tune of songs like “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Down By the Riverside,” and oh yes … “When the Saints Go Marching In.” As we turned onto Duval Street(!), the ladies behind us cut quite the figures prancing and swaying to the music, and those of us in the altar party could not help but join in the celebration. The cross was lifted high for all the world to see, and the fragrance of incense filled the streets where we walked.

We arrived at the Cemetary, where people are buried above ground like they do in New Orleans, except Key West is an island of coral rock right at sea level instead of swampland. (As an aside, putting in a pool in key west requires not digging, but dynamite.) The choir led us in a hymn, Fr Don gave the comittal, and then respects and other rites were said by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the US Army, the Order of the Eastern Star and the Masonic Lodge.

It was quite the morning, and Tucker got a glorious send-off.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Desmond Tutu: A Man in Whom is the Laughter of God

7 10 2010

The former Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Southern Africa is retiring from public life effective today.

Time magazine had a series of questions for him, which can be found here:


Two of my favourite quotes:

“…in spite of all the horror of injustice and oppression, and the sense that those who perpetrate evil tend to appear invincible, the texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail.”

“People often speak of God being even-handed. God is not even-handed. God is biased, in favor of the weak, of the despised. In the Bible, we first encounter God when he sides with a bunch of slaves against a powerful Pharaoh, an act of grace freely given. The pattern continues until Jesus Christ comes and you see God must have very low standards, when you look at the company Jesus kept: prostitutes, all of the riff-raff of society. Some people say: “You should have been preaching the Gospel.” But [what I preach]is the Gospel. A God who is on the side of those who do not deserve it.”

Most everything I have read about ++Tutu talks about him laughing. I have never met him, but there is an unmistakeable joy that leaps off the pages. I look forward to laughing with him one day in this life or the next.

Everything I need to know…

7 10 2010

…About Ministry, I am learning in Key West. Nowhere else in the US has anything on this town.

Just sayin.’