Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Leisure unlimited!

After Sunday's Inter-Faith picnic (like Sunday skool, only with turbans and those nice samosas South Asian's eat at home, rather than feed to the public in yer local curry house - yum!), I went off to meet me old mucker Jim at his Manse, eat pizza and discover which of our class mates were dead/fat/divorced and/or unfrocked. Good fun. He is now a grandad but only because he married a wife with 2 kids from a previous marriage (phew! Means we're not that old then!)
The official day off started with a bereavment interview but improved with a swim and a sauna and then off to Central park to watch the Blue Brazil defeat the Hibees 2-0!!! No, this is not a typo and I was both sober and drug-free when spectating - we beat a premier league side! What worried me in all seriousness was they didn't really stress the BB's until the last 20 minutes and even then, not much. There will be no sunshine over Leith this season if they can't worry Cowden!
And today a wee funeral and then a treat for myself - I've booked in at the health centre for a massage!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Holy Annie, God's Grannie, Ora Pro Nobis!

Well, it is her feast day. And she did exist (logically had to if the BVM did). Can't say I'm convinced that that was her real name, although it could have been - I just dislike agreeing with Proto-Gospel's dating from the 2nd century CE. So we had a wee Eucharistic celebration, then a funeral and then a hospital visit and then on to do the pew sheet as our activities for this lovely Setterday. Did get out to slurp coffee with Ma, so it wasn't all work.

And tomorrow day? The usual services, plus an Inter-Faith Family Picnic in the park. Plus a pal is popping over from Alva later in the afternoon. Jim is the Parish Minster there and we did our BD's at Aberdeen in the 80's. He was that rarity in a conservative Evangelical dominated Faculty - a Presby who was also a human being, enjoyed a laugh and didn't think Piskies were going to hell! So we'll catch up on old pal's, discover who's still got their own hair, who's not yet been unfrocked and do all the gossipy things the clergy do when they get together!

Following on from yesterday's blog, I have to withdraw my comments about NSM's being nuts. The Autocephalous Patriarch of Dumbarton wants to jump out of an airypalne with Ann and I. So it's now official: all Pisky clergy are nuts. But we knew that anyway.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Scary people, NSM's.

And I should know! My 1st one was Welsh - and couldn't sing! Now I've got a Kenyan who has a PhD from UC Berkeley. That's OK. It's the wumman who scared me this morning!

Ann is a treasure. But after the 10am Mass, at which she celebrated and preached (and did a good wee sermon on St James), she tried to talk me into jumping out of an airyplane again, the next time there is a big humanitarian emergency. Fair enough, I've often said I'd love to go parachuting again. But her plan is that we BOTH do it! She's 69 - my mum is 69!

It's official - she's even crazier than I am folks!!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

I'm getting very legal in my middle age!

Yep! In addition to be called as a juror (which I then had to get out of to take 3 funerals for the local Kirk minister who's on holiday), I have been appointed a Lay Advisor to Central Scotland Polis! They are (and I quote the blurb) "members of the local community...using their collective experience to express views and opinion on policing issues". And my role? To "advise on religion/faith, sexual orientation, gender, age and disability issues".

I wonder why they chose me?

Oh well, it's a form of service I suppose.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

St Mary Magdalen's Day.

I will ignore the 810th anniversary of the 1st Battle of Falkirk and share with you a bit of a sermon from the late, great Dom Gregory Dix, preached at the patronal Festival of St Mary Magdalen's Paddington, on this Festival.

"One old translation of the Gospel into Syriac made in Palestine which very often carries over the ideas of the 1st Jewish-Christian disciples uses instead a very significant word: "There comes Mary Magdalen evangelising the disciples that she had seen the Lord". Her message on that 1st Easter day was in very fact the heart & core of the good news, the 1st tremendous piercing flash of the explosion of the primitive Christian gospel.

No one could ever forget the loveliness or the significance of the story, told so exquisitely by St John, of the brief dialogue in the garden at dawn...it is the perfect recognition scene, the ultimate art of writing in its simplicity...it forces from the most casual reader the instinctive recognition of his own accord: "This is true! It must have happened like that; it could only have happened like that".

Men think first of all of the more flamboyant, perhaps more humanly interesting, figure of the splendid beautiful sinner who became the broken weeping penitent...And one sees and remembers too, the fittingness that Mary the Penitent should have stood beside Mary Immaculate at the foot of the cross. It is of these things...that one thinks instinctively... rather than of Mary Magdalen in her greatness of Easter morning, as the Apostle to the Apostles and the Evangelist to Evangelists. Yet that is undoubtedly how St John represents her here. And this is the last mention of her in the New Testament. From henceforward all is silence about her in authentic history, and it is only long afterwards and in very dubious legends that the attempt is made to carry on the story.

Here the scriptures leave her, a woman with a privilege not so superhuman as unique in its own very different way as that of sinless Mary of Nazareth herself...not as what she made herself as what, in the end, she became and was made by the grace and person of Jesus, the herald to the heralds of the world's redemption. The scriptures tell us very little of her sins except the fact of them, and only a little more about her penitence, because that is chiefly her affair. The scriptures never gossip, are never sentimental and never morbid. But they do tell us every detail of that minute other glory in the garden, because that is what God made of her, and the scriptures are the story of the mighty works of God with the children of men. and with that glory they leave her and fall silent, to speak of other mighty words of God with other sinners - Peter and Thomas and Paul and many others."

Good stuff, well written and breathing the sober passion of Anglican divinity at its very best. Mary of Magdala, Apostle of the Apostles, Ora pro nobis.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Saying your prayers.

I've got back recently into the habit of saying my daily office in Church. But, following a blog chat with the Autocephalous Patriarch of Dumbarton (aka Fr Kenny), I've reverted to the 1929 Prayer Book, rather than the 1990 or even the Roman Office. And I'm getting something unexpected (but good) from the old book. When praying the office alone, I always feel as if I'm talking to a void. But with 1929, the sheer beauty and rolling cadences of the Psalms as translated by Coverdale simply transport me. I am enjoying spending time praying the office. I suppose it's a case of "pray as you can and not as you can't" and don't worry if it ain't PC or modern. It's really between you and God, so get on with it and enjoy. And the thanksgiving for favourable weather got used this morning as it's nice and sunny! Plus, I've added a wee recital of the Rosary onto the office each evening for the duration of the Lambeth Conference. They need the prayers!

BTW I'd be grateful, if you could pray for my cousin's wife Margo, who is very ill with terminal cancer. She really is in a dreadful state just now.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Why do we always celebrate the wrong things?

This impressive looking cairn is the memorial in Callendar Park Falkirk to the Scots fallen at the 1st Battle of Falkirk, 22nd July 1298, when the Scots led by Sir William Wallace were well and truly biffed by King Edward I of England (aka Longshanks or the Hammer of the Scots).

How do I know all this? Yesterday, Ma and I were up the toon, when the wail of the pipes caught our attention. The nice waitress in the Roxy tearooms where we were scoffing soup and ciabattas, told us there was a commemoration on (she reads the Scottish Midland Journal more dilligently than I do). So to pass the time, we wandered up to Callendar Park to see what was going on.

A pochle of hairy men in kilts, looking as if they were left over from the 2nd Battle of Falkirk in 1746, had gathered round the cairn to remember those who had fallen whilst standing with the Wallace. Of course they were only remembering the Scots who fell. My 1st niggle. All war sucks, and it was the feudal period (so all the infantry Scots and English were serfs called up by their masters to fight whether they wanted to or not), so why just remember your own side? Also why remember a defeat rather than a victory (we won the replay in 1746)? That's just daft. Why glorify this debacle, especially since Wallace was seriously let down by turncoat Scottish Lord's who legged it rather than fight Edward? Niggle the 2nd.

3rd nark. This Jacobite version of the Sealed Knot were dressed up for Culloden. 'Scuse me guys, but this is a late 13th century MEDIEVAL battle you are recalling. Nobody would be in kilts and wearing white roses on blue bonnets. Authenticity anyone? On top of which, one of the speechifiers told a story of addressing a gathering of 15,000 Scottish Americans and jokingly suggesting that after they'd finished in Iraq, the US Army could stop off on the way home, liberate the Scottish oil from the English and we'd sell America cheap oil! AAARGH!! You eejit! Don't you realise that one or more of those Americans of Scots descent could have the ear of the powerful fools in Pennsylvania Avenue and George Dubya Shrub might act on that joke? I don't want to be invaded because some fish supper addicted (judging by the size of his belly), quasi-historically literate buffoon of a Nationalist wants a Free Scotland.

There is a certain sort of partisan Scottishness which drives me mad. And this is it. Kilts and mince for brains patriotism, that is anti-English, historically risible and an embarassment to a great nation. It's (almost) enough to make me vote for David Cameron!

Rant over!

Friday, 18 July 2008

This is the quiet season...

of the Church year, when summer hols mean there is little in the diary. Unless of course you are in an ecumenical setting, when it means you are covering for 1 Pisky and 2 CofS colleagues. Then, you end up with an extra Eucharist on Wednesday which involves arriving at the Church to find the Rector takes the copies of the Grey Book away him and you have to remember how to use the 1929 Prayer Book ASAP! Thursday is spent doing your own Missa Geriatrica, visiting the housebound and making connections with the Social work office, plus a Cof S funeral, which you find clashes with jury duties, ends up with 7 phone calls to find a replacement and ultimately means you have to ask the court if you can be excused attendance. Add to that interviewing a Ugandan baptism/confirmation candidate and an hour talking to someone at the FE College you are chaplain to who is having serious problems with the management (whose complaints resolution policy seems to be borrowed from the Spanish Inquisition) and it becomes clear why bedtime was sometime after midnight last night and I was up at 7 and in the office by 10, after making a batch of phone calls from home!

Well, I found a singularly apposite prayer for the Bishops at Lambeth 08 in the 1929 Prayer Book. It's Prayer 20 for Synods and Councils. Apologies for it referring to the Holy Spirit as masculine, but that was the common usage of the day:

"O Eternal God, the fountain of all wisdom, who didst send thy Holy Spirit to lead the disciples into all the truth: vouchsafe that he, being present with thy servants, the Bishops now assembled at the Lambeth Conference, may so rule their hearts and guide their counsels that in all things they may seek only thy glory and the good of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Really appropriate methinks, reminding the holy Synod that they are there to be led into all truth, not their own particular brand of truth, and that they are supposed to be seeking only the glory of God and the good of the Church, not a rebalancing of the power structures to reflect conservative wealth and African numbers. Reform of the structures may be necessary to change from an Africa prays, America pays and the English write the minutes set up, which leaves many grumbling, but it is supposed to be about God's glory, not Akinola's mates egos or KJS's gang getting their own way.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Some day off!

I transferred the day off to Tuesday. That lasted until 9am when I had to get the plumber to deal with a leak in the Curate's flat. So I passed the time whilst Tommy the plumber plumbed by sorting out some arrangements for our post Lambeth Bishop's visit. The problem was our original (+Indianapolis) had to call off due to ill health. So we have got a replacement. Admittedly one day later (7th not 6th August, so I'll have to move the Feast of the Transfiguration) and at 7pm not 7.30 (ease of catering). But we've swapped the Bishop of Indianapolis for the Archbishop of Burma, so fair dos!

Having walked the dog and discovered mum wasn't coming over I decided to be definitely leisurely or I'd have lost the whole day off thing totally. Off for lunch in a cafe & a swim and a sauna, before deciding to go home for a bit prior to going to the cinema to watch Mamma Mia! Big Mistake. I had to get Willie the electrician to deal with a fused bathroom light in the Curate's flat. By the time I got to the cinema, they were totally sold out for Mamma Mia! Scrub that plan and go for a nice steak. Which sort of made up for it.

Back to work tomorrow then!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Mondays' are my day off...

usually. But today was a bit different. Being as today was the 175the anniversary of the start of the Oxford Movement, I decided to join the day of prayer in thanksgiving for it by opening the Church for an hour and inviting anyone who was free to join me in an hour of silent prayer, concluding with a Eucharist. 2 did which was nice. I said Mattins (silently), read Keble's Assize sermon (if he could see the state of the nation today, he'd see a rather nearer approximation to National Apostasy than Gladstone's suppressing some Irish sees!) and then we sang "Blest are the Pure in heart" before celebrating the Holy Mysteries. Rather nice and I'm sure the deceased Hon Canon of Cumbrae who festival today was would have approved.

Then to hospital to visit Sadie one of our old dears who had had a fall and is awaiting physio. Must encourage peeps to visit her as I'm the only visit she's had since going in on Thursday. And then by train to the Cathedral for a Festal Evensong to welcome our visiting Bishop's and spice (spouse is singular, spice plural). Excellent singing - Introit Stanford "O for a closer walk", versicle's Rose, Canticles Dyson in D, anthem Ireland "Greater love hath no man". We then sang "Thy hand O God has guided" very lustily, blessed all the Bishop's with some Rutter and sent them off to Lambeth by bus (via a drinks party in the Resurrection Chapel) to the rousing sound of Brewer's Marche heroique!! Although the Dambuster's March might have been more fitting!

Chit chat with the folks assembled followed. Ye Provost looked at me and said "Why are you here?" "Well, it helps to pass the time" I murmured. He laughed and remarked at least I was honest! A.N. Other (who had seen me at the Prayer Book Society AGM) asked if the service was the BCP I approved of. Answer: yes, with a good choir and bucket loads of incense!

On the train back I read that Scotland has got the kiddies Olympics in 2011. In Lanarkshire. They're going to have Youth Olympics in Airdrie and Coatbridge. Aye. Right. Sponsored by Buckfast Abbey? Replacing the discus with s deep fried pizza? How will they tell the track suited and trainer ed competitors apart from the natives? (Answer: Olympians don't wear Burberry baseball caps).

You've got to laugh!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Ministry to the almost famous.

The hidden life of my little flock never ceases to amaze me. Last night at a pastoral care group meeting we were discussing one of our peeps who we hadn't seen for a bit. Then it emerges he has a secret life as a film extra. And appears on screen in the Da Vinci Code! So the DVD was switched on, the disc inserted and a search of the scene in question made. And there he was! In the Roslyn Chapel when Audrey Tatou meets her granny. Awesome!

Mind you, not as scary as the time when as a curate I was chatting to an old dear who was in a nursing home and mentioned I fancied trying parachuting. "Yes, it's quite exciting" she said. She was 77, which begged the question "Olive, when did you go parachuting?" "Over France in 1943" came the reply. My sweet little old lady was a former SOE agent! Woe betide the mugger who tried to nick her purse! Dead as a German sentry!
See congregations..you never can tell!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

A Philosophical musement.

Mulling things over the last day or two, as I talk to friends who are deciding to go to Rome re wifie Bishops in the CofE. In one case at least it's no surprise, as he is engaged to an RC and was going to join her Church so they both could receive communion together. In the other case, it is a culmination of 15 years of worrying about the authority of the Anglican Church to "innovate".

My take on it is this: if you believe that the Anglican Church is part of the historic Catholic Church like the RC and the Orthodox, then it must objectively be part of that body. That (to me) means that it retains the 4 classic 'marks' of Catholic identity - the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, the catholic creeds of the undivided Church, the Dominical Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist and the threefold apostolic ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon. This the CofE, the SEC, TEC et al all do.

To say that that has been lost or imperilled by the decison to ordain women or gays to my mind confuses the objective and the subjective. Christ redeemed humanity and objectively you must be human to be ordained. Our particular gender is the subjective manifestation of that humanity. There may have been subjective periods of time when it was impossible to ordain both men and women due to culture or perception, but that is not the case now. Subjectively, due to present culture, it is actually undesireable not to ordain women.

So I'm not even faintly thinking of Pope-ing because I still think the SEC is objectively Catholic! I am also very rusty at philosophy and may well have got my self in wee epistemolgical pickle! I'm happy to receive comments, corrections etc. Probably I am on shaky ground by classifing gender as subjective!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

And then..

Having snarled a wee bit about the institutional Church earlier on, I went off to do a baptism interview. Young family, immigrant, lively kids and great fun and laughter as I took notes and sorted the service out. The moral? The Institutional Church is a necessary evil to provide care, home and welcome to God's people across the world. And sometimes, in spite of the heirachy almost, it is a great tool for mission outreach and pastoral care! Must be while I'm still in it after all these years. Still doesn't mean I always like it. But that in itself is a good sign. Woe betide the Christian who falls too much in love with the outward and visible sign - you may forget to catch the inward and spiritual grace!

Torn in two directions

Well, the Cof E has voted for women in the Episcopate. No surprises there then. And I do think it was the right thing to do. Sadly quite a number of my friends there feel very hurt by the way the vote turned out, offering little (as they see it) provision for their point of view. The code of practice doesn't meet up to their hopes. No super bishops.

Part of me is annoyed. It seems silly to have moved from generous provision to less than generous provision, just at the very time you want all the non-fundamentalist hands on deck to repel GAFCON. But the whole GAFCON thing scuppered that. And sadly, I can see why. To continue to admit there can be a choice of Bishop depending on your point of view on one issue would be dangerous in view of the threat of African Conservative Bishop type incursions into the CofE. It's rough on the Anglo-Catholic wing, but there has to be a toughening of the ecclesiology in England. Either you accept the authority of the Bishops of your province as appointed or you don't. No more pick and choose who you work with. But my heart still bleeds for my pals. They are hurting right now.

Pah! Sometimes I detest the institutional Church because of what it does to people. And I have nasty thoughts about it. "May all your grand-daughters grow up to to bishops - and look and think like George Carey!" Still, in God we trust. And not in the Church in this world. Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus!

Monday, 7 July 2008

The pictures was good.

Yes, I took off last night to view thew new Narnia film "Prince Caspian". Most enjoyable. Not totally sure Aslan (Christ) ought to sound like Liam Neeson - Patrick Stewart perhaps. But Eddie Izzard as the gallant Reepicheep? Marvellous casting! BTW did he become Sir Reepicheep in Prince Caspian or in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

From the barbers chair.

Whilst listening to the world going by as I awaited the shearing of my greying locks, I mused:

Why do young mothers in my patch call their daughters "Chelsea"?
Why not "Kelvinside" or "Auchenshuggle"?

Why does my barber show awful US shows on the widescreen TV about spoilt 16 year olds planning idiotically expensive parties instead of something dull but sensible like Wimbledon?

Why am I turning into a grumpy old coot?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.

Gafcon, schism in Engerland over wifie Bishops, the economy's stuffed ... what is the 4th horseperson of the Apoclypse?
I got called for jury service today.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
As Private Fraser once said: "We're dooooomed!"

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Dougal's Anne Robinson moment.

The Ginger dominatrix is not keen on our Welsh brothers and sisters. This morning's London Times had the following brief news item:

"A man who tried to gas himself in a car but then changed his mind and lit a cigarette admitted arson....He was given a 12 month Community Service order at Newport Crown Court and told to take an enhanced thinking skill course."

I know I shouldn't laugh but...
Newport is in Wales. Rowan Williams is from Wales. QE II is head of the CofE and Court Orders are issued in her name. Any chance of her ordering RW to take an enhanced thinking skills course before he chairs Lambeth? I know it's short notice, but..

Just a thought.