I love Richard Holloway. He was Bishop of Edinburgh when I was put forward for ordination selection and training. I very much appreciated his concern for me and his deep pastoral heart. I admired his genuine humanity and his honest wrestling with and searching for meaning in what we do on this tiny rock in the universe.
First broadcast on Tuesday 27 August 2013 this is a remarkably moving and honest interview with the former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway.
I’ve always loved +Richard. As my bishop I found him compassionate, loving, and intellectually challenging: he always encouraged me to keep searching for the truth, to keep asking questions.
On Sunday 18 August I ordered a new clerical shirt online from J Wippell and Co Ltd. My current three shirts are getting a bit faded and past their best so it was time to order a new one. A black one, of course (is there any other colour, other than for a bishop?), in the formal ‘tonsure’ style.
I received a very polite email a couple of days later:
Reverend Dear Sir
Thank you for your order for a shirt.
This item is not in stock and is therefore being specially made, we anticipate dispatch to be around the 2nd September 2013.
We apologize for the delay and we will email you when we dispatch your order.
Ah, not ideal. I have an institution in St Andrews to attend on Wednesday 4 September, and if there are any delays in the mail then it may not arrive in time. I emailed them back:
I actually ordered the shirt primarily for an institution in St Andrews on Wednesday 4 September, as the dog collars on my current tonsure shirts have all but one disintegrated! Do you think that the shirt may have arrived by then? I’m happy to pay extra for faster delivery if so.
And as a company that understands exemplary customer service I was assured by a return email that schedule had been revised and the shirt would now leave the factory on Thursday 29 August.
It didn’t. It arrived at my house on Thursday 29 August. What tremendous service.
But just take a look at how long the new ‘dog’ collars are!
Every week my Mum faithfully sends me the local newspaper, the Selkirk Weekend Advertiser.
This week, on page two, was a short “Talking faith” article by “A member of St John’s” (the Scottish Episcopal Church in Selkirk). That member was my Mum, and her thought for the day ‘column’ was inspired by two of my beautiful children, Reuben and Joshua.
“Just you and me!”, said one of my three-year-old twin grandsons, contentedly trotting off to play tennis with his Mummy.
“Just you and me!” said the other twin going to the shops with his Daddy. They were experiencing individual quality time… attention… being loved. Let’s enjoy ‘just you and me’ quality time with God.
Come to me with your ears open, and you will find life. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised. Isaiah 55:3 NLT
On Thursday night at All Saints’, St Andrews we celebrated The Solemn Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper.
This service on Maundy Thursday is the Eucharist of the Eucharist, the Mass of the Mass. We remember the origin of the Eucharist: Jesus’s last supper with his disciples before he retired to the Garden of Olives and was handed over to the Romans by Judas Iscariot.
Maundy Thursday always reminds me of someone I knew during my curacy at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness. His name was Cathal and he was a member of the L’Arche community in Inverness.
Every Sunday after the service Cathal would process solemnly up the aisle to the west door, holding his prayer book above his head as though carrying the gospel, where he would look you in the eye and would say quite sincerely “the cup goes to the garden. The cup goes to the garden.”
“That’s right, Cathal,” I’d say, to reassure him that I’d understood what he was saying, “the cup goes to the garden”.
And it was about this service, the Solemn Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper, to which he was referring. Because after the Eucharist the priest, deacon and sub-deacon take consecrated bread and wine to the “altar of repose” (which is an altar usually in a side chapel decorated with flowers) to remind us of Jesus moving from the Last Supper to the Garden of Olives.
It showed to me how important the liturgy is. It showed me how these dramatic, choreographed parts of the service can speak to people at different levels and to people of different abilities. It showed to me how liturgy is more than just the words, and that by acting something out it can go deeper than just understanding it with the mind.
(It’s taken me three days to finish this blog post… off now to the Easter Vigil where I’m singing the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation.)