“Not everything in life could be considered material for a sermon…”*

by chuckofish

I had sad news over the weekend. My old friend and rector, the Rev. Ken Semon, died last week as the result of a biking accident at the age of 70. (You can read about it here.)

Ken Semon

After leaving flyover country twenty years ago, he had answered a call in Arizona and was still working as an Episcopal priest in Santa Fe at the Church of the Holy Faith, the oldest Episcopal Church in New Mexico. He was really the finest minister and one of the best people I have ever known.

He was also a fraternity brother of Harrison Ford at Ripon College, a fanatical skiier, a PhD in English Literature, and a convert to Christianity. Maybe because he came to Christianity by choice and not by birth, he took it very seriously. A little too high church for my tastes, he was nevertheless a true Christian in every way and in my mind a rather saintly person.

It is appropriate that I have been reading Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death, the first book in the Grantchester mystery series, upon which the PBS series is based.


The author James Runcie is the son of the Rt. Rev. Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury from 198o–1991, and the protagonist, Sidney Chambers, is based on his father. You will recall that Robert Runcie served as a tank commander in WWII and earned the Military Cross for two feats of bravery in March 1945. He was also the only tank commander to capture a submarine.

Anyway, the Rt. Rev. Runcie came to my old church as the Holy Week preacher in the 1990s when Ken Semon was the rector. Runcie was a nice man and a good preacher. (I had lunch with his wife and I thought she was a bit of a pill.) It is nice to know that his son must also be a good guy and an Anglican.

I am enjoying this book a lot and I recommend it.

…but the plain fact was that even before he had involved himself in this criminal investigation he had had too many things on his plate. His standards were slipping and the daily renewal of his faith had been put on the back burner. He thought of the General Confession: ‘We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done…’

He started to make a list, and at the top of the list, as he had been advised at theological college, was the thing that he least wanted to do. ‘Always start with what you dread the most,’ he had been told. ‘Then the rest will seem less daunting.’ ‘Easier said than done,’ thought Sidney as he looked at the first item on the list of duties.

As you know, I do not believe in coincidence. I believe in the whispering voice saying, “You’re doing fine.

Into paradise may the angels lead thee, Ken, and at thy coming may the martyrs receive thee, and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem.

*Canon Sidney Chambers, “Grantchester” by James Runcie