Thursday, 28 August 2008

The leisure continues!

After a gallop to Shaftesbury Avenue to get a ticket for Hairspray (the musical, rather than the L'Oreal product - although I'm worth it!), it was off to the British Museum to see the Hadrian Exhibition. Then the show which was Faaaabulous!!! I will really have to put musicals on my list of interests. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Tourist days!

Yes, I went to the Tower of London, saw the Crown Jewels, marvelled at Henry VIII's shiny metal codpiece and rather enjoyed the day! Today, it's the Cabinet War Rooms, tea at Fortnum and Mason's, Evensong at the Abbey and then off to the theatre to watch puppets - I bought a ticket to Avenue Q! I'll post pics when I get home - the USB cable was hiding before I left.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

off to the Big Smoke!

And I don't mean Glasgow! No sirrah! I mean the Great Wen as Sam Johnson called it!I jetted down to our UK capital on Sunday night to spend a few days in the company of old friends and to finally visit some of those palaces I never managed to get to when I was a humble Curate in Ealing. Humble, of course being a figure of speech!

So of course day one was spent... in Walsingham. I'd arrived the day before the parish did a day pilgrimage, so it was into a bus at 7.30 and off we went. 1st person I met on arrival was a Scottish Rector I know in his holiday cottage in the village, then we got into the Shrine to robe only to find an unexpected Clergy House reunion - the Vicar and NSM of Christ the Saviour and 3 of his former curates, all present and liturgically correct! I think it's a local record. What is the collective noun for a gathering of former curates - a clump? A chapter? I've no idea!

Today the great plan is to "do" The Tower of London and possibly the National Portrait Gallery before meeting a friend of days gone by at Westminster Cathedral for Vespers and then going for a meal etc in one of our old haunts. But hey it's holiday, so it may change!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Olive Oiling the Wheels!

It's good from time to time just to socialise with your wardens, so tonight Tom, Margaret and I met up for an Italian meal in Edinburgh. Talked a certain amount of Church and business for Sunday's vestry meeting, but really just chatted over the pasta, pollo, desserts and lattes.

I'm really looking forward to getting away and winding down next week. It's been a fairly intense July/August. There must be a Harvest Festival due soon, but I can't remember when!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Busy, busy busy!

Getting stuff sorted for my holiday trip to London! That's the bus and driver for the next over 80's Trip sorted, the Convent booked for the Vestry away day and the funeral on Thursday in hand. The servers are sorting themselves out for a trip to Montrose for the SGS AGM on Saturday 6th September and all seems quiet on the Western Front. I'm also fully briefed and programmed for the FCT trip to Dortmund in September. Quite what the trip to a pony farm has to do with exploring the possibilities of linking with an ecumenical group of Churches in Westphalia I know not. And a "Scottish Evening" in Bochum will be either heaven or hell - expats can go OT! Still, it is an interesting and well thought out programme and I'm looking forward to it. My German phrasebook needs looking out and reading PDQ! I won't mention the War - or Berti Vogts!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

A day that didn't quite go as planned.

Well the great plan was: 9.30 Mattins or Mass, office, off to drop off vestments in Dalmahoy at 12, 2.30pm Assumptiontide Mass at Stow, then Institution of the new pastor at Olivet Evangelical Church over the road from Christ Church. It went fine until I tried to drive to Dalmahoy and found the car battery was flatter than Norfolk! By the time Green Flag came and got me going, there was no way to reach Stow before 2.30. So after dropping off the borrowed tat at Dalmahoy, I assumed OL wanted me to go to watch Cowden play Albion Rovers at Central Park! (Our home strip is Royal Blue and white!). We beat them 2-1. Yaay! BTW, the steak pies at Central Park beat the ordinary ones hands down and both they and the Bovril are better at the main stand rather than the terraces.

After that came the institution. Very friendly folk they are at Olivet. Open Brethren. The preacher to my great surprise name checked Henry Scougal - a divine I haven't heard mentioned since our Church History classes in Aberdeen Uni on the Aberdeen Doctors! Look forward to improving links with them in the next wee while, as they have asked if they can use part of our Hall facilities for their Senior Bible Class on a Sunday. You never know what'll happen next here!

On the Town!

Nothing excessive, now! I went to Edinburgh to watch Richard Holloway impersonate Thomas Becket in TS Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" at Old St Paul's. He really was very good as were all the amateur cast. I particularly enjoyed the 1st Tempter - an attractive minx in a soigne black cocktail dress! How else would one tempt an Archbishop? (Answer: that depends on the Archbishop!) But I was aware of a friendly shade at my elbow as I watched, heartily approving!

My great mentor, Fr Donald Nicholson, was Curate of St Stephen's Gloucester Road in the late 1930's. Eliot was one of the Churchwardens and, because his 1st marriage was in trouble at the time, he lived in the Clergy House, where he shared a bathroom with Donald! It was Donald who introduced me to Eliot and indeed "Murder in the Cathedral" and he later taught Richard Holloway when he was Vice-Principal of Coates Hall in the late 50's. Donald (who greatly liked Richard, even if he did think his theology was from time time suspect) would have loved last night (including the soigne temptress!). He seemed to be very present in spirit. I still miss the old boy despite it being 6 years since he passed on.

Afterwards I met some friends and we enjoyed a Thai meal in the Dalry Road. Not a bad night out at all. Just a shame the peeps on the train back thought their conversation was so interesting it had to be broadcast to the rest of the carriage at top volume. And that the Thai spices are now irritating my gullet! Andrews liver salts, we praise thee!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Funerals and fitba.

Yesterday I nipped over the Forth to attend my cousin's wife's funeral. They were married 31 years ago and their wedding was the 1st time I ever went to a church service. The sermon was so dull, I curled up on a pew and had a snooze! Therefore I was a bit surprised when it turned out to be a humanist service. This was the 1st time I'd ever been to a humanist funeral, so I was a very interested observer. The officiant had certainly done his homework and gave a very thorough eulogy and thanks giving for Margo's life. The lack of hymns meant it was rather a monologue, which made it seem to drag on a bit more than was helpful. But there were certain elements of the content which did surprise me.

The reference to the family praying was a slight surprise. The use of the phrase "rest in peace" was another. But the message that we will all be reunited eventually baffled me. At least in the context of humanism. It came across as all the good bits of the gospel, minus the messy, inconvenient or challenging bits. Cheap grace, less the cross or passion and proffering our desires without the certainty of the promise given in Christ. I am genuinely ignorant of the contents of humanist beliefs and was a bit startled at the appropriation of Christian concepts and terminology. I'm by no manner of means anti-humanist - indeed, I once took a service in Iona Abbey with the late Derek Dunn who was a leading Edinburgh humanist. But I was honestly surprised at what was said.

Afterwards, having enjoyed ma's home made soup, it was off to Central park to watch the Blue Brazil play Albion Rovers in the Challenge Cup. We won 3-2. But the Rovers played as if they wanted to win and we gave them far, far too much possession and time in our half. Not good. The rematch in the league on Saturday should be lively. Mind you, I hope we do win and silence the noisy crew of Coatbridge Buckie slurpers in front of me of last night. Loud, pointless and annoying - you can tell them come from Bishop Joe Devine country!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

From sublime to ridiculous usual!

After the Archbishop on Thursday and the last Nite of Nitekirk on Friday, today was a rest, right? Well, apart from the Parish Garden party, yep! Of course it was raining torrentially until it finished but it went well, scones, strawberries and cream were munched in the Hall rather than in the Garden, champagne was on offer (well, they said it was champers, but it was really cava!) and I stuck to the strawberry lemonade, which was rather nice.

Fidge took some nice photos as part of Nitekirk. I posted my favourite on the Facebook page I have. A friend from London commented that in it I looked like Charles Hawtrey from the Carry On films. Brilliant - now I'm Private Widdle from "Up the Khyber"!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Friday again!

A busy day yesterday! Celebrated the Eucharist at 10am, having been in the office from 8 doing service sheets. Then by car to Dalamahoy to collect a rather nice High Mass set from Deryck Collingwood at St Mary's and into Edinburgh to collect the Archbishop of Burma and his wife. The traffic was simply awful and I was a very frazzled bunny by the time I got to the Synod office to eat a pork pie with the great and the good. Loaded Archbishop Stephen and his wife Nan into the car and drove them and Eileen Thompson from Livingston Ecumenical to sunny Falkirk. We went for a wee sail on the Falkirk Wheel and then had fish and chips at Benny T's (as recommended by Tam Cowan off the telly). We then had an almost High Mass in the Presence of a Greater Prelate in Christ Church - Blue Book, Roxburgh Setting, westward facing, incense, all hymns from Common Ground. I celebrated, Eileen Deaconed and the Archbishop sat in my stall, wearing our smallest Cope and preached, absolved and blessed. Then a bun fight in the hall and back to their lodgings in Aberdour.

Really hearing at 1st hand the situation facing the Church in Burma was deeply moving. The scale of the damage and destruction caused by the cyclone was something else. One village of 200 reduced to 20 people and most of the bodies never recovered. The Church sending teams of medics, workers and priests to help out in the Delta. Archbishop Stephen spoke of their establishing a boarding house to looked after youngsters and get them through school and training, taking in kids from every faith. That is a project I for one will gladly jump out of a plane to support. Right. Kenny - are you up for doing this for Burma and the Gambia?

The Archbishop also gave Eileen and I crosses made of mahogany with symbols cut out of them - a tear and two waves to symbolise the suffering of the Church in Burma through the cyclone. That is a gift i will treasure.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Festival fatigue.

I was a good wee boy who signed up for 2 events this week to listen to Rabbi Lionel Blue (who I met years ago when he was leading a retreat in sunny Millport) at the Festival. Sadly, LB is seek & no weel and was replaced unexpectedly by Peter Tatchell!! I still toddled along and was surprised (pleasantly) by his arguments: his radicalism springs from love of fellow human being not anger, it all started as a teenager campaigning against the death penalty and the Vietnam War in Oz-land. Rather more to this controversial figure than I had expected. His dialogue at lunchtime with +Gene Robinson was very illuminating and he had a pop at the ABC (the Beard of Cantuar)for hypocrisy. Well, what do you expect, matey? The late Dom Gregory Dix said: "the sign of a Bishop is a crook and that of an Archbishop a double cross". And my old mentor Fr Donald Nicholson used to advise me: "Put not your trust in princes - especially Princes of the Church!" (Oddly, he succeeded Dom Gregory as Parish Priest of Beaconsfield!)

I heard +GR preach on the Transfiguration this morning. It was perfectly orthodox doctinally, shed a new light on a Bible passage for me (unusual in most sermons I hear!) and was evangelical in the best sense of the word (sharing personal faith and experience in a simple yet profound way). He also celebrates Mass very well - not every Bishop can! I've really become rather a fan of the wee man!

Now, I'm cream crackered and off to walk Max in the pouring rain beofre curling up in front of the telly for a bit - all this running about to Edinburgh fair tires ye oot! Then tomorrow - the Archbishop of Burma!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A night to remember.

No, not the old film about the Titanic with Kenneth More doing that stiff upper lip thing he did so well, but Monday night at the Fringe. I popped along to listen to +Gene Robinson at St John's Princes Street. Never condemn a controversial figure until you have heard what they have to say and can offer a honest reflection is the way I like to work. GR was impressive: modest, funny, forgiving and human. And also refreshingly normal and theologically orthodox. Not some mad radical who wants us to worship Gaia and call it Anglican, but a human being with his faults seeking to love and serve the Lord whilst being truly open and honest. I am now officially a fan.

Then it was off to Nitekirk to do a bit of anointing. Whilst there, I had one of those rare but utterly compelling conversations when you are simply totally aware of the presence of God and the Holy Spirit moving and working. The nice lady who stopped to chat was an RC sister based in Stirling and we began to talk about prayer and the presence of God. Which led into one of the deepest conversations I've had about prayer in a long time. I had to catch a later train as I lost track of time. But we swapped phone numbers and agreed to continue the conversation at another time. Marvellous.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Saturday night, Sunday morning

Having been prevented from going to watch the Blue Brazil yesterday (we lost 1-4), I snoozed before heading into Edinburgh to do some anointing at a new venture in Greyfriars Kirk for the Festival called Nitekirk. It runs from 8pm-Midnight from the 2nd-10th August and is a sacred space and drop in in the Kirk with oodles of candles, artwork, music poetry and some religious stuff like anointing, communion and compline. It felt very odd to be doing one of the 5 sacraments the Kirk dropped at the Reformation in the Kirk where the National Covenant was signed!! I'm sure I heard some covenanters rotating in the Graveyard!

Sadly my late return and midnight pizza meant that I slept through the alarm this morning and had a heck of a rush for Church. Not good. The turnout was rather thin being the middle of the holidays but the singing was good and Tim made a nice job of celebrating. Tonight it's back to the Capital for a reception to launch St John's Princes Street's Festival of Spirituality (and play spot the celeb!). Busy old life!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Another busy week.

Yet another funeral (TGIF!) and Robert the CofS minister is still on holiday. My stint as his cover ceases as of Monday. Not that that will ease things off, as I am spending at least 2 evenings in Edinburgh anointing at the Nitekirk in Greyfriars next week, plus hosting the Archbishop of Myanmar at a Eucharist in Falkirk on Thursday the 7th at 7pm. Anyone out there who wants to hear about Burma is welcome to come along!

Sadly, I will not be at the Cowden game tomorrow as I have an internment of ashes at 2.30pm. Blast!