Tuesday, 30 November 2010

St Andrew's Day

Saint Andrew 
by Francois Duquesnoy 
(St. Peter's Basilica, Rome)

Our National Patron Saint always appeals to me precisely because he isn't as "in yer face" as his brother Peter.  Andrew the Introducer (see John 1:41, 6:8-9 and 12:20-22) was a description I heard in a sermon once (Fr Donald Nicholson of Blessed memory) and it struck me that was his gift: enabling others to encounter Christ and unleash their gifts.  It takes much grace to work behind the scenes - we all secretly or even openly adore attention and it can be hard to be "unappreciated".  It takes even greater humility.  But "not my will but thy will be done" is one of Jesus's most powerful prayers in Gethsemane.  The release of self and apparent greatness in order that God's will be done and his Kingdom revealed, enabled and advanced.  Blessed Andrew, inspire by your example and aid us with your prayers.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Deep and crisp and even.

Greetings from the rather icy City of Edinburgh (sharing a climate today with Vladivostok!).  Snow has fallen, the bypass is shut, the shift is over, I have a nice cuppa in my hand and really wonder if I can be bothered going to an Advent Carol service?  My stout boots are doing sterling service and the brand new, furry, Red Army surplus ushanka is keeping my ears nicely warm.  The black rabbit fur will go nicely with a cassock and cloak - the Red Star with hammer and sickle making a pleasant change from a WWJD badge!

Any how to mark the season here are some words on which to meditate:

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, 
And let the skies pour down righteousness. 
Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, 
Neither remember iniquity for ever; 
Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Sion is a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation: 
Our holy and our beautiful house, 
Where our fathers praised thee.
We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing, 
And we all do fade as a leaf:
And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away; 
Thou hast hid thy face from us: 
And hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. 
Behold, O Lord, the affliction of thy people. 
And send forth Him who is to come: 
Send forth the Lamb, the ruler of the earth, 
From Petra of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion: 
That He may take away the yoke of our captivity. 
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, 
And my servant whom I have chosen; 
That ye may know me and believe me: 
I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour: 
And there is none that can deliver out of my hand. 
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people; My salvation shall not tarry:
I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions:
Fear not, for I will save thee: For I am the Lord thy God,
the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Church - don'tcha just love it?

It's the silly season in the Church just now, with the Bishop of Willesden getting it in the neck from My Lord of London for being a gobby twit on Facebook (slagging off the boss's grandson when your area manager was best pals at Trinity Cambridge with his dad qualifies as just plain dumb in any walk of life).  Add to that the joys of the C of E tying itself in knots over that Covenant thing (only the Mexicans have agreed to it so far - I blames it on the tequila!), Pope Benny going slightly reasonable on rubber johnnies (marvellous news actually, as it begins to unravel the deeply destructive silliness of Humanae Vitae at long last) and you begin to wonder if it's really worth sticking with the damnable institution?

Well, yes, because when you step away from the "organised hypocrisy" (as our 1st Jewish Prime Minister described his own Political Party) that the Institutional Church often is, you mostly find the reality of a praying caring community at the local level.  Sometimes sadly, you find a feuding, inward looking, bitchy rat's nest impersonating a congregation but mostly you don't.  It is that Church, the plebs sancta dei that keeps me at it.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Worth the hirple!

As indicated previously, I decided to limp along to Evensong @ Old St Paul's tonight.  I'll be candid and confess that I have always found it a gloomy interior, personally preferring the light and space of St Michael' and All Saint's or indeed even St John's Princes Street.  But it is ideal and perfect for candlelit Evensong and Benediction on a winter's evening.  Especially when the lights are minimal and all the faithful have a taper to lighten their darkness and follow the service order with. The choir were excellent, the Psalms to Anglican chant (which I prefer to that Widow Twankey music called Gregorian chant!).  And a proper use of silence, with no home made intercessions.  Sublime!  And my hip ached not too much.  Then home to veggie enchiladas. Yum!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Feeling Funny.

I have felt rather peculiar for the last day or two.  My legs have suddenly stiffened up, like I've just been cross country running (not that I have!) and I've been hirpling like an arthritic duck.  Indeed, I feel like a twenty year old from the waist up - and a 75 year old from the waist down.  The village drums suggest it may be a bug, so paracetamol, extra vitamin C and hot baths are being taken!  Tomorrow is a working day, so no morning Church and a hirple to Evensong instead!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A Fraction of ****wits!

As a long since pensioned off NUS activist (same sort of vintage as Phil "The Lying Toad" Woolas MP (ex), but as yet unconvicted:-)), I observe with some surprise the shenanigans in Westminster yesterday.  Obviously, they've lost the robust approach the combined Lib/Lab/SNP stewards of my vintage used towards the Socialist Lurkers, Trots and Anarchist smellies on parade! ("Get up aff yir erse, ya ****in' idiot!" was the favoured consistent response to attempted sit downs to block traffic).  I note merely this: according to the London Times, 40000 students marched, of whom 200 rioted.  That's 0.5% of the total.  50 got on the roof. That's 0.125% of the total.  The rioters are the fraction to which the title alludes.  Their stupidity has led to a powerful and legitimate protest against Government policy being squandered by a handful of bampots.

The rotas for the 1st part of the vacancy at Spiky Mike's have arrived and I find myself in the pulpit for Candlemass and Maundy Thursday!  Must find my nice lacy alb before then!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Flying Bishops say "Banzai"!


It isn't exactly news now that 5 English Bishops have taken up Pope Benny's offer to join the Ordinariate.  Actually, it was more "This you call news?" when I read it.  The usual suspects have floated over - Fulham (imitating his predecessor John Klyberg - both of whom were my suffragan Bishop in London), 3 current or retired Flying Bishops and one ex what they used to call "Colonial Bishop" (the sometime Bishop of Woolbrawonga, Upside Down Land - who writes rather good Collects).  The Guardian cartoon reproduced above I thought was quite amusing.  The sharp and pungent article by Diarmid McCullough in the Times pointing out the unrepresentative nature of the 5 I thought was better.  He pointed out all were from what might reasonably be described as the Anglo-Papalist wing of Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism.  The "Use: the Roman Office and Missal" wing.  As any fule Church historian nose, there is also the old High Tory Catholic Anglican (Keble, Pusey and IMHO the current Bishop of Winchester) and the Christian Socialist of the Stewart Headlam/Percy Dearmer/ Conrad Noel type (today think Ken Leech, Dicky Holloway and Rowan Williams).

Scotland was never quite going to go down this road I suspect. Not so much because of Synod decisions back in 1992, but because of the singular nature of Scottish Anglo-Catholicism.  There was only ever 1 Anglo Papalist parish (St Michael's Hill Square Edinburgh).  All the rest may have had fairly Roman ritual but it was always the Scottish Liturgy under the tinsel and lace.  The clergy used the Scottish Prayer Book Daily Office on the whole and the Pope's 2nd XI attitude was never present.  And the liturgical lean towards the Orthodox with our distinctive double epiclesis reflected a more orthodox inclination amongst the theological brains as well.  We were never as beguiled by the Western patriarchate in quite the same way as our Saxon brethren!  I wish the 5 well (2 of whom I know very slightly) and hope they are content where they are going.  But I think their followers will be very few.