Reverend Anne Knight Hoey, our former interim rector
Anne Knight Hoey was born in Austin at the old St. David’s Hospital at 17 th and Rio Grande. She attended local schools, graduated from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, and studied at Wellesley College and the University of Texas, where she earned a B.A. in Spanish. There she met William Llewellyn Hoey, an artist and later member of the U.T. art faculty. They married in 1963 and were parents of three daughters. Anne and Bill both sang in the choir and served on the vestry and as senior wardens at Good Shepherd. Bill died in 1994.
All three Hoey girls attended St. Andrew’s and St. Stephen’s Schools, and Anne served as trustee of both institutions and as chair of the St. Andrew’s school board. She was employed by the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest as editor of its publications from 1978 until 1985, when she entered seminary as a postulant for holy orders. She received the degree of Master of Divinity and was ordained to the diaconate in 1988 and to the priesthood in 1989. She later served the seminary as adjunct lecturer and tutor in theology, as seminary chaplain, and as a member of its board of trustees.
Anne served as associate rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Austin, from 1988 to 1997; rector of St. James’, La Grange, from 1997 to 2001; and associate rector of St. Michael’s, Austin, from 2001 until her retirement from the active ministry in 2005. She continues to serve as supply priest in various churches in and around Austin as well as St. Paul’s, Marfa, and St. James’, Alpine. She was interim rector at St. Alban’s, Austin, in 2014-15.
Anne’s daughter Sarah and her husband Jim Porter live in Austin. Her daughter Catherine lives in Houston with her husband Will Randall and their children Sam, Lizzy and Fairfax. Her oldest daughter Elizabeth died in 1982. Anne shares quarters with her faithful and highly entertaining dog Freddie and their cats Nemo and Alice. Their hobbies are reading, gardening, and the Sunday New York Times crossword.
Reverend Anne's Sermon - July 31, 2017 PENTECOST 8
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you realize you haven’t even scratched the surface. I was afraid I’d be too teary to talk on this, our last Sunday together, when lo, from the vast reaches of interstellar web space there landed in my inbox this inspirational tidbit a friend found on London’s Daily Mail.com. Headline: “And they were naked – and not ashamed. Church allows nude worship.”
“A church in the U.S. state of Virginia,” it read, “has taken the bizarre decision to allow its congregation to attend services in the nude. Pastor Allen Parker, the leader of White Tail Chapel [I’ll pause for a moment to let that sink in] in the town of Southampton, said he came to the decision to allow naked worship after concluding the clothing requirements of other churches were overly ‘pretentious,’ and decided his own flock should be free to forgo such materialism if they desire.
“He believes he is in good company too, claiming many of the most important moments in the Bible happened while the protagonists were nude. ‘If God made us that way, how can [it] be wrong?’”
You just flat cannot make this stuff up!!
While I have some sympathy for Pastor Parker’s renunciation of pretension and his embrace of the bare essentials of the faith, the thought of gazing out into your midst this morning to find you all clothed in nothing but righteousness leaves me breathless.
So here we are. Our last Sunday. Not, I trust, for ever and ever. But for now. It gives a person pause.
And right on cue, Jesus graces us with metaphors of his favorite topic, the kingdom of God. What would the world be like if our hearts were in tune with God’s heart, our wills with God’s will?
It would be like a seed, he says, like yeast, like a pearl, a hidden treasure, a net full of fish. What God can make of the smallest, the meekest, the most timid and clueless, the in-way-over-their-heads, is flat-out amazing.
As Solomon prayed: “You have made your servant king, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in...Give your servant therefore an understanding mind.”
An understanding mind. To understand our world. To understand ourselves. What would we find?
Today is a day for looking back a bit as well as for looking forward. Looking backward into my own stuff is to acknowledge a long-persistent itch that demanded scratching, that convinced me halfway through my 40’s that I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.
What I now realize is that during all that period of discernment, all that jumping through hoops for the Bishop and the seminary faculty and the Commission on Ministry, my trembling psyche could not possibly have known what would happen once I got there. When they asked me how I saw myself in five years, I hadn’t a clue.
I felt called to Holy Orders not because of something I wanted to do but because of someone I wanted to be. Something deep within me yearned toward priestly being—whatever that was. I now see it was to stand at this pulpit, to serve at this altar, in the midst of this people.
I suspect we all can claim life-changing moments of new identity. We all have our own journeys, what brought us to this place today. Jesus is talking about that very thing, that something, that seed that takes root within us, that grows in secret until it can remain secret no longer. That blooms when we might least expect it, popping out in random places, casting all our cherished self-images aside. Sometimes that happens in sudden epiphany. A baptism into new life; a call into new being.
Or it may make itself known in slow motion throughout the living of a life. We take a look in the mirror one day and wonder who that person is staring back at us. Where did she come from, we wonder. Who is she? Sometimes we discover a person we never knew was there.
“When Jessica and Derek Simmons first saw the beachgoers pausing to stare toward the water, the young couple just assumed someone had spotted a shark. It was Saturday evening, after all, peak summer season in Panama City for overheated Florida tourists to cross paths with curious marine life.
“Then they noticed flashing lights by the boardwalk, a police truck on the sand and nearly a dozen bobbing heads about a hundred yards beyond the beach, crying desperately for help. Six members of a single family—four adults and two young boys—and four other swimmers had been swept away by powerful and deceptive rip currents churning below the water’s surface.
“‘These people are not drowning today,’ Jessica Simmons thought ... ‘It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.’
“She was a strong swimmer and fearless in the face of adversity. But others had tried to reach them and each previous rescue attempt had only stranded more people. There was no lifeguard on duty, and law enforcement on the scene had opted to wait for a rescue boat. People on the beach had no rescue equipment, only boogie boards, surfboards and their arms and legs. ‘[Make] a ... chain!’ they started shouting.
“Roberta Ursrey was among those caught in the treacherous rip currents. From 100 yards [out] in the gulf of Mexico, between crashing waves and gulps of salt water, she heard the shouting...On shore, the human chain began forming, first with just five volunteers, then 15, then dozens more as the rescue mission grew more desperate.
“Jessica and Derek swam past the 80 or so human links, some who couldn’t swim, and headed straight for the Ursreys... [They] started with the children, passing them back along the human chain....They linked up wrists, legs, arms. If they were there, they were helping.
“Nearly an hour after they first started struggling, just as the sun prepared to set, all ten of the stranded swimmers were safely back on shore. ‘It was beachgoers and the grace of God’s will,’ Ursrey said.”
The grace of God’s will. The yeast rose. The mustard seed flowered. A net caught fish of every kind.
We’re a net full here on this hill. I’d name each by name, but then I’d have to name you all—and probably forget some—for it is each of you who together make up the Body of Christ, who with your gifts many and various make this house a dwelling fit for God.
Who work and pray and give for this corner of God’s vineyard.
Who keep the wheels turning and the lights on, the checks written, the leaflets printed, the questions answered and the crises met.
Who share the ministry of word and sacrament; who carry the cross and pass the chalice; who read the lessons and lead the prayers.
Who beautify the house with flower and with song.
Who glorify God with polished brass and spotless linens.
Who welcome us all, friend and stranger, and minister the sacrament of hospitality; who cook and serve, scrub and clean and smile through it all.
Who tend the needs of the sick and house-bound.
Who maintain our website and shepherd us along the information highway.
Who mentor and care for our children.
Who answer whenever we call.
And then there’s this.
There’s something that happens here on Sunday mornings I wonder if you’ve noticed. It doesn’t happen every Sunday, and when it does, it’s only when we’re singing. And even then, only certain tunes will do. It happens at the end, on the final chord, and it’s pure magic, courtesy of Zack. That last chord, written in a minor key, he resolves into a major, transforms, elevates it to a different realm.
It’s called a Picardy third. The note we sing is the same, but the supporting notes of the chord rise into what’s also known as a “happy third.” Without straying from the note, our voices become one in a new voice. Not a grace note, one of those ornamental embellishments composers sometimes use to fancy things up. But what we might call a grace chord, a combination of notes that settle themselves in a new way to give the hymn an amen of contentment and bliss.
At a dark time in my life an old friend sent me a book entitled Life Is Goodbye, Life Is Hello. I may have read it all the way through, though I can’t swear to it. But I didn’t need to. The title said it all. Life is goodbye; and life is hello, not the other way around; for after every goodbye, from somewhere, somehow, by grace, something, somebody says hello. We have only to listen.
Today, when you and I say goodbye, when we go our separate ways, God only knows the paths we will walk; the goodbyes we have already lived through, the partings that are yet to come.
But next Sunday will bring new life, new joy: a new hello as you greet your new rector, Madeline. You’ll pull out all the stops and ring all the bells to welcome her in the only way the people of St. Christopher’s know: by opening to her your hearts.
Meanwhile, I’ll be holding you in my heart as those beachgoers held onto other willing souls, joining hands to support one another in the tides of chance and change. And I’ll be listening for the Picardy thirds I know are coming in the new songs you will sing together to the glory of God.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May God bless and keep you always. Amen.
Anne Knight Hoey
St. Christopher’s, Austin
July 30, 2017