The journey continues

Some years ago I took a group on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. We didn’t walk it all, nor ride bikes, nor horses, we were in a coach. But we had a great time walking sections of that pilgrimage route with the many thousands who do it each year. Today we had the opportunity to walk a small section here, close to where we are staying in Austria.

You know you are on the right path when you see the Camino sign

One of the amazing things is that all across Europe the journeys begin and the paths converge, like tributaries to a great river, a gathering stream of pilgrims. The Jakobsweg is what the ‘way’ is called here. But before we stepped on the path we went to a beautiful pilgrim church to celebrate the Eucharist. By chance the Gospel reading was the one I was quoting in my blog, about the way in which Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. It was amazing to read that knowing that the purpose of our journey was the Passion Play.

The path we took from the church above the lake to the top of the mountain

Walking the lovely stretch of the Jakobsweg here, the sun beating down, the meadows looking resplendent was a real blessing. We were ‘pilgrims on a journey‘ and we loved it. Our walk ended where a chairlift took us too the top of one of the mountains where Jakob’s Cross is sited which looks down on the Way. It’s a monumental structure with a lift and stairs inside that deliver you to the top and spectacular views all around, including in the far distance the little church where we celebrated them Mass and the path that we had walked.

Walking to Maria Kirchental

Then we ended the day in another pilgrimage church. This time it was the famous Maria Kirchental, way up in the mountains, a place of tranquility and miracles. This late 17th century baroque church is full of votive pictures given by grateful people who have asked Our Lady to pray for them, their family or someone in need. The image of Mary at the High Altar is known as Our Lady of the Goldfinch, for in her hand a Goldfinch has settled, a symbol of Christ’s passion because of the red on its head.

Above the altar, at the centre of the starburst, is Our Lady of the Goldfinch

Many of the votives date back even before this shrine church was built. But the priest there was telling me that they keep being added to. At the west end we saw two recent ones – one of a man who survived being shot, another of someone who was rescued by a helicopter following a road traffic accident. It was humbling to see how this tradition of thankfulness continues.

In that sacred place we said the Angelus and remembered those worlds of Mary to the angel, ‘Let it be with me according to your word.’ (Luke 1.38)

The innocence and trust displayed by Mary is reflected so often in our own innocence and trust when we come to worship and simply and faithfully ask, knowing that every hair of our head has been counted and that not even a sparrow, or a goldfinch, falls to the ground without our Father knowing, and caring.

Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray. Amen.

On the passion way

We are two years late but at last we are on our way to see the amazing Passion Play in Oberammergau. This is the first of two groups travelling out from Southwark Cathedral to experience something that happens every ten years – and we are excited.

The view from the room

But before we get there we are staying in Austria in a beautiful hotel set amongst the tree-clad mountains and enjoying the fresh clean air, amazing thunderstorms one moment, clear blue skies the next and hospitality which is boundless.

So far we have travelled from the UK and Ireland to Munich, taken the road by coach into Austria and settled into our accommodation. Then on Saturday we spent the day in the delightful city of Salzburg. It is a stunningly beautiful place, with reminders of ‘The Sound of Music’ everywhere.

The abbey where the real Maria was a nun

It has meant that I missed the Consecration of Rosemarie Mallet as Bishop of Croydon on Friday and yesterday the ordination of sixteen women and men as deacons. The compensation has been, however, the joy of making the journey with 32 lovely people.

Some of our lovely pilgrims in the Mirabellgarten

Yet however lovely the hills and the villages, however stunning the cathedrals and the castles, the real purpose is getting to Oberammergau and taking our place in the theatre in which the play will be performed. It reminds me of that moment in the gospels where Jesus turns his face towards Jerusalem as it says

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9.51)

The ‘working’ sacristy of Salzburg Cathedral with the image of the crucified Christ presiding over the place

There is something of real determination expressed in these few words. The road would be hard and the passion awaited their arrival but Jesus knew that he had to take the road and make the journey and his disciples were determined to go with him. As John tells us, Peter says to him

Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ (John 6.68)

We are on the way, on the passion way, on the way that leads to life and a journey that will ultimately speak to us of eternity.

Lord, be our companion on the journey as we stand with you in your trial, at your death and rejoice in your resurrection. Amen.

Fair play

It’s the cricket season. That is one game I don’t really understand. I sort of understand the offside rule in football, but only just. I think I understand the rules of rugby, basically, but cricket … well it leaves me mystified. I had a great day some years ago when the Diocese of Southwark was playing the Diocese of London in the Church Times cricket cup final. I went along with my PA, Marie, who understands everything about cricket and spent the day trying to educate me – but it made little difference. I do have to admire a game, however, that stops for meals!

When we were children, playing out, on the street or a bit of rough ground, elaborate games would be made up, with elaborate rules. Children’s games can be very complicated and there is always one of the gang who is the rule maker and the arbiter of when the rule has been broken. There is the collective cry of ‘It’s not fair; he cheated’ whenever the rules are broken. Children have a deep understanding it seems, or did when I was little, of how important the rules actually are.

Read through the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible and you quickly come to the impression that Israel was obsessed with rules. Deuteronomy contains so many rules, complex, covering almost every aspect of life – from what you eat, to what you wear, to the health and safety legislation of its day, you must have a parapet on your roof to stop people falling off.

When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof; otherwise you might have blood-guilt on your house, if anyone should fall from it. (Deuteronomy 22.8)

The rules of course became big business for the lawyers and those who had a vested interest in keeping and explaining them and Jesus reacted strongly to this. But nevertheless the sense that rule making and rule keeping were fundamental to life is strong in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in other faith communities.

All of this – the way in which even from being children we understand the importance of rules and keeping them, the religious traditions in which our nation has been formed, the cultural morality that has been built up over time – after all, last week on 15 June we celebrated the 807th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede – helps explain why recent behaviour by the government has created such a strong reaction.

The introduction to the Ministerial Code signed off by the Prime Minister says this

Thirty years after it was first published, the Ministerial Code continues to fulfil its purpose, guiding my Ministers on how they should act and arrange their affairs. As the Leader of Her Majesty’s Government, my accountability is to Parliament and, via the ballot box, to the British people. We must show every
day that we are worthy of this privilege by keeping our promises and delivering on the priorities of the British people.

Fine words. The resignation of Lord Geidt from his role as ethics adviser to the PM, the second person to do this during this premiership, speaks volumes. The words are good but the actions have not been. From Partygate, to Rwanda, to the Northern Ireland Protocol, to the threats around our membership of the European Court of Human Rights, and trade tariffs, there seems to be a cavalier attitude being shown towards rules, rule keeping and rule breaking. I know I am not alone in finding it deeply disturbing and so at odds with what I thought was part of our national character – fair play and keeping the rules and championing those rules in an often lawless world.

So I have been proud of our bishops last week, the letter all the bishops in the Lords signed in protest to the threat of deportation of migrants to Rwanda, the speeches and interviews that our own Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, has given throughout the week.

We must show every day that we are worthy of this privilege by keeping our promises.’

It’s not just the promises that need keeping, it is the law as well. Jesus is asked to boil all that Jewish law down to the essentials and he does it.

A lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22.35-39)

Love is at the heart of the law and loving our neighbour, whoever they are, however they arrived, wherever they are from, ‘the alien and stranger’ as the Jewish law so often makes clear, is fundamental to everything that we believe. This is what we need to stand up for in a society in which the rule of law is being, for blatant political reasons, being trashed before our eyes. It isn’t right, it isn’t love and it isn’t of God.

God, whose law is love, may I love my neighbour as I love you. Amen.

Closer to God in a garden

Just a short blog today as this weekend has been very full on. Before the pandemic we had for a few years been part of the London Square Open Gardens weekend. Then, during the pandemic, we were unable to welcome people as we had been. This year, however, it all happened. Good weather was promised and so, in beautiful sunshine and a nice hint of warmth, the garden gate was opened and people came down Cardinal Cap Alley to discover the little oasis of calm and greenery that is the Deanery garden. We had a soundscape installation, a harpist, a display of mudlarking finds, a local artist, some poets, a choir, an orchestra, all adding to the experience. I have to say it was lovely – and yet another step towards the restoration of normality.

The poet Dorothy Frances Gurney wrote what has become a much loved poem which played in my mind as the sun shone and the garden looked at its best. Personally, I feel close to God in many environments, not just gardens – but the sentiment is a good one. So enjoy it.

THE Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.

So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.

And I dream that these garden-closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,–
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.

God, you planted a good garden, a paradise for your children; your son rose in a good garden, hope for your children; be close to us that we, your children, may flourish. Amen.

In joy and in sorrow

It’s a powerful moment when you stand, as a priest, before a couple who are getting married. The practice generally is to dictate the words of the vows and the couple repeat those words, first the groom, then the bride (sadly we aren’t yet able to marry everyone equally). The vows embrace the reality of life

‘for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health’

It’s a powerful statement, a powerful promise that one person can make to another. It’s reinforced then in the blessing that the priest prays over the couple

‘Bless them in their work and in their companionship; awake and asleep, in joy and in sorrow, in life and in death.’

The harsh reality is there and it has been for us at Southwark Cathedral over these last four days. We have been surrounded by the wonderful celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen but we have also been conscious that before we could party we had to remember. As the clergy and staff at St Paul’s were getting ready to welcome the Royal Family, the nation and the world to the service of thanksgiving across the river we were making final preparations for the service of commemoration on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on London Bridge and the Borough Market. We had to hold back the celebrations of a wonderful reign until we had remembered before God the eight people who died and those injured and the many whose memories are scarred and their emotions bruised in the experience. I count myself among them. I too needed this time to remember, to pray and to look to the future. I needed to hear the words that are on the plaque unveiled and dedicated on this occasion ‘Hatred does not cease by hatred, but by love alone.’

The plaque outside the Cathedral commemorating the events of five years ago

In many ways five years is a long time; it was a different decade, it was pre-pandemic, we hadn’t brexitted, it was pre-Boris. Yet in other ways it feels just like yesterday, such a defining moment in our lives that it will take a lifetime to come to terms with. Half of my time so far as dean has been coloured and shaped by the events of that evening. Five years ago was, of course, a terrible and frightening period of our history. There were five terrorist incidents in just a few months – 22 March at Westminster; 22 May at the Manchester Arena; 3 June at London Bridge; 19 June outside Finsbury Park Mosque; and 15 September on the tube at Parsons Green. We had become involved in the first of these events in that Southwark Cathedral was the venue for the funeral of PC Keith Palmer killed in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament. As I preached at that service, relayed to the thousands lining the streets from Westminster to Southwark, little did we know that we would also suffer in just a few months time.

On Friday before the service of commemoration I went to join those gathered in our local mosque for Friday Prayers. The prayer hall rapidly filled and a message was got to me that the imam was happy that I address the congregation. That had happened five years before when, following the attack, I went to Friday Prayers and was invited to speak. On this occasion the sermon had been all about the importance of honouring family and especially our mothers. So when I was led to the space in front of the mihrab to speak I was able to say to those there that we were all family, that those before me were my brothers, that those in a different space were my sisters and that as a family we were stronger, had grown stronger over these five years.

Sometimes in life we just say things, but this is all true. We have grown stronger by sharing in the pain, the sorrow, that harsh reality and then being able to share in the joy. After the service at the cathedral we were all invited back to the mosque. Tea had been laid on for us all and in that same space, that place of prostration where I had spoken earlier, we drank tea and ate cake and began to be able to enter the celebrations going on around us.

Through all these events and so many more the Queen has been a solid and constant pressure, reassuringly there, in the good times and the bad, experiencing her own annus horribilis but never losing faith in the God who sees us through the worst to the best. There at the end of the Book of Revelation is a vision of a better place, a better city and those words that surround the memorial olive tree at the Cathedral

The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22.2)

It is that vision and that hope that sees us through the sorrows and into the joys.

God, hold us when life is hard, be with us when life is good; take us through the sorrow to know your joy. Amen.

The least of my sisters and brothers?

I have written before about the joy of my commute, the 7 minute walk that I have between the Deanery and the Cathedral, along Bankside. If I have got up in time and not messed about too much I leave just after 7.30am. People are by then walking along the path heading towards their offices but amongst them are the street cleaners who will have been hard at work already since 6am. Whilst they have a lovely stretch of the South Bank to look after they also have a tough job. If the weather has been good the day, and especially the night before, the crowds will have been out, in the restaurants, spilling out after a show at the Globe, at one of the many pubs, or simply drinking what they have brought with them, and the place is deep in litter. The bins overflow, there is broken glass, discarded packaging from takeaway food littering Bankside and the whole place looks dreadful. But there are Mo and Tony and others faithfully and carefully clearing up, doing their thankless task. I don’t say this to make myself sound good, but I always try to speak to them and thank them. They make my journey and my life better.

The same applies to those security staff who we find in every big office, the people who greet you and need to look inside your bag before you ever get to the Reception desk. If I go to the PWC offices on the Embankment there is a wonderful chap there called Francis. He goes to church and so when he sees me in my collar he is all smiles and chatter, he makes me feel both safe and welcome. I always sing his praises to whoever it is I am meeting.

At the Cathedral we have Norette and James, joined this week by Idris, cleaning the offices, cleaning the loos, mopping the Link before ever most of us get in. They are doing tasks I wouldn’t like to do but which are essential if we are to be as welcoming as we all want to be.

We were all waiting for the publication of the Sue Gray report into so called ‘Partygate’ – it had been much anticipated! The proper title of the report is the ‘Final Findings of the Second Permanent Secretary into alleged gatherings’ not the snappiest title that a government report has had but it is what it says on the can. We all know what was contained within it. But amidst all the reports of drinking, altercations, karaoke machines, vomiting and excess there was what I though was a very disturbing reference. Sue Gray writes

‘I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable.’ (Conclusion 5, page 36)

The one we follow as Christians is the one who was ready to take the place of the servant, to take the bowl and to take the towel and to wash the feet of his friends. The one we follow found fault not with the staff but with the owner of the house when he went to Simon the Pharisee and didn’t receive the welcome and the care that as a guest he could expect. The one we follow gave his whole self, his life itself, for our safety and our eternal security when he embraced the cross and wore the crown of thorns. The one we follow stood amongst the crowds and said to them

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25.40)

I don’t need to remind you that those who look after us, as cleaners, as those responsible for our security, those on the frontline of our care are most often from minority, global majority, backgrounds. Of all those I have mentioned by name only one comes from a white British background – and I don’t know but I would be surprised if it were not the case in Downing Street and throughout our Government offices. We are judged by how we treat people whoever they are, whatever they do, but especially those who undertake the most underrated but often the most significant tasks that I would hate doing.

So, I’d just encourage you to notice who is doing the cleaning, who is looking after your security, who gives themselves to these thankless tasks, day in day out and throughout the pandemic – unsung heroes to whom we owe thanks, to whom we should show the utmost respect, for, “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” But in all of this who is in fact the least?

Servant God, bless those who serve others and give us the humility to recognise sacrificial service when we encounter it. Amen.

Lydia

It has been quite a week. I was in Newcastle from Monday until Thursday for the National Cathedrals Conference. It was great and I will tell you more. But since returning it has been full on! The tide of emails is relentless and other more enjoyable things have come along. The result is I hope you don’t mind if this week I share with you the sermon I have been preaching this morning at St Luke’s Woodside. That is a church just south of South Norwood, so on the outskirts of Croydon, a place I hadn’t been for quite a while. And, as you will read, I was quite excited when I read the readings for the Eucharist this Sunday. The readings the parish used were Ezekiel 37:1-14, Acts 16:9-15 and John 14:23-29.


I love Lydia. Now that sounds like something that someone would carve into a tree, or nowadays, I suppose, put somewhere on social media. But I mean it, I do love Lydia. One of the things that I really love about the Acts of the Apostles is that you keep being told the names of wonderful people who were members of the early church, people just like you and me, members of congregations who Paul or Peter encountered as they took the message of the Good News out, beyond Jerusalem, beyond Israel, beyond Palestine, to the places where the story of Jesus had not yet been told. The Acts of the Apostles is littered with the names of friends we didn’t know we had.

The other week we heard of Dorcas, Tabitha, the seamstress. We heard of Simon the tanner. And we’ll hear more names, women and men who were there, the church, our sisters and brothers.

But I love Lydia because she was my forerunner. Lydia was the first person in Europe who we know was baptised, converted, brought into the body of Christ, the first name in the European baptism register if you like. There’d already been people from North Africa, people like Simon of Cyrene and his sons Alexander and Rufus. The father had been there at the crucifixion itself, helped carry the cross and certainly by the time the gospels were written every one knew of his sons. There’d been people from Syria, people like Ananias who lived on Straight Street in Damascus – it’s still there, I’ve been to his house. There’d been people from modern day Turkey but there hadn’t been anyone from Europe until Lydia, so I love Lydia.

She was probably a woman of high status. The cloth that she dealt in was for the wealthy. The dye she’d have used to make the purple cloth was expensive and so it was used to mark out the leaders in Roman society, on their togas, on their robes – after all why do you think bishops wear purple!

She probably employed quite a lot of people, those we heard referred to as her household, her extended family. She may have been a widow, because in a highly patriarchal society she’s able to invite everyone in Paul’s party round to her place to stay – or maybe she just had a very tolerant and, for those times, modern husband who didn’t mind her making such decisions.

But whatever her back story was, she was part of a prayer group. Somehow Paul heard that they held their meetings outside of the city, perhaps because it would be frowned upon if they actually met more openly. So out alongside a river, under the shade of some trees, Lydia and her friends gathered to pray. And then Paul and his companions turn up.

What they knew about Jesus we don’t really know – it would seem not that much because as soon as Paul started speaking Lydia’s heart was opened to the Word and she believed in a way she hadn’t before. And there and then she was baptised.

I love Lydia and Jesus loves her too.

We’re getting towards the end of the Easter season. Next Thursday is Ascension Day and it isn’t long until Pentecost. So in the Gospel for today we hear Jesus speaking to his disciples about his departure and about the sending of the Holy Spirit. But before he tells them that Jesus says something to them and to us that’s so important

‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’

Jesus loves Lydia and Jesus loves you and so does the Father and the divine abides with us and we abide with the divine. Just as in that vision of Ezekiel that we heard in our First Reading, the Spirit of God comes to us, brings the dry bones of our life to life, so that we will know the Lord and live in the Lord.

When the bishop comes to Confirm people, as they lay their hands on our heads they say to us

‘God has called you by name and made you his own.’

Those are powerful words. The valley was full of dry bones, a vast number, but God breathed life into each one of them. God loves Lydia by name and that’s why we know her name and God loves you by name and makes you God’s own. You’re not just one in a crowd, one other in a vast army of people but known and loved and blessed and valued and held close to the heart of God.

That has to affect how we treat each other. If that’s how God feels about the person sitting next you right now, and the person in front of you, and the person behind you, if that’s how God loves each one of us then we too have to love each other, with all those things that make each one of us so special – and that includes our ability and our gender and our colour and our heritage and our sexuality and our age. Because each of those things is so precious to God, each of those things God wants you to be and fully to be.

I love Lydia, Jesus loves Lydia, God loves Lydia because God loves you. And as the beloved of God we keep the words of Jesus and do as Jesus would have us do. Part of that is doing exactly what we’re doing now. We don’t need to find a stream outside the city wall at which we can gather, no trees we can shelter under for our prayers – we have this house, this home for the people of God in Woodside and we have a table.

Because God loves us so much he gave us his Son and because Jesus loves us so much he gave us his self – in bread and wine, his body and blood, our food, our life, our peace, our wholeness. And with empty hands and just as we are we come forward to receive all that Jesus has to give us.

Dean Friedman had a hit back in 1978 with a song called ‘Lydia’ and in it he sang these words

Lydia, if you only knew how much I love you. Did you know that I love you?

Perhaps Lydia does know, well she knew that God loved her, whether she could have imagined that two thousand years later a bunch of people in south London would talk of her, who knows. But we know her by name and share in the same journey and eat the same meal and share the same life – the life that brings dry bones to life to live Easter, now, today and always – whoever we are, whatever we are called.

God, you call me by name, you make me your own. May I live in the knowledge and strength of your love. Amen.

Pontifex

One of the real joys of living in the Deanery is sitting in the drawing room on the first floor which looks out across the River Thames. In some ways it feels as though you’re that amazing picture by Canaletto, with St Paul’s rising above the surrounding buildings and the river full of boats – just a little less grand than he painted it! But there is of course one major difference. When we look out we see the Millennium Bridge. It lands on Bankside just a few yards away from the house I live in, it is a constant place of activity, it spans the river and ties London together. There are, of course, other bridges in London, notably London Bridge itself with which Southwark Cathedral has such a long and close connection. But none of the other bridges, however venerable or well known, has quite the character of the Millennium Bridge.

It is in itself the stuff of legend. Walking backwards and forwards between the Cathedral and the house I hear lots of tour guides telling people about this and that. They stand outside next door and tell people how Christopher Wren lived there – most probably not true – and they talk about the bridge, ‘the Wobbly Bridge’ as they tell people Londoners call it. Well I don’t call it that any longer – but we did.

The reason I mention all of this is that there have been celebrations in the last few days of twenty years of the life of the bridge, or at least twenty years of being able to use it. The bridge did open in 2020. In fact it had it’s official opening even before it was complete. One of my first responsibilities when I became Precentor in 1999 was to work with my opposite number at St Paul’s on the service that was jointly held to mark the opening. The choir from Southwark sang with St Paul’s choir. I remember Ireland’s anthem ‘Greater Love’ being sung – ‘Many waters cannot quench love’. Then we all went down to the northern end of the bridge for the official opening by Her Majesty The Queen. The bridge went half way across the river – it didn’t yet meet up with Bankside and Southwark. The Dean of Southwark, the late great Colin Slee was escorting the Duke of Edinburgh and I remember him jumping up and down on the bridge, in his cope, completely irrepressible, trying to see if the bridge wobbled – much to royal amusement. Colin was a prophet because when the bridge opened it did wobble; I was on it and it was like a fairground experience. So it opened, was closed and then two years of work followed as corrections were made.

Now it’s wobble free and is constantly in use by people moving from north and south and south to north. It’s iconic, the place to film action movies or documentaries, the place for a fashion shoot, a place to demonstrate against climate change, a place to simply get the most amazing shot of St Paul’s replicated in so many adverts and tourist snaps.

It is significant that the Bishop of Rome kept the title that the high priests in pagan Rome took to themselves – Pontifex Maximus – the great bridge builder. Connecting is what the Millennium does supremely well, joining two dioceses together, tying London together, and bridge building is what priests, high or low are concerned with. The priest stands at that place of intersection, between God and humanity, and nowhere more than when we are at the altar. With arms outstretched we pray on behalf of the gathered people of God, reflecting the one who as it says in one of our Eucharistic Prayers ‘opened wide his arms on the cross’, bridging the gap between God and humankind, uniting and re-uniting, making one the torn and divided. As it says in the First Letter to Timothy

There is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2.5)

It is Christ as pontifex that we seek to follow, building brides, being bridges, and in truth that is the priestly task of the priesthood of all believers, a community of bridge builders, holding all sides together and making the connections that lead to life.

Lord Jesus, reconciler, bridge-builder in your own self, may I give myself to the task where any need to be reunited, links made, and rivers crossed. Amen.

Back to earth

I’ve arrived back. This was my first overseas trip since we arrived back from the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March 2020. We left just ahead of a surging level of infection from Covid; our return flight was brought forward and we left Israel just before their lockdown was introduced. Little did we think that we had two years of disruption to life to get through! So it was interesting being back in an airport and getting on a plane to sunny Spain! In truth I had flown last year to the Isle of Man but that was internal and it was clear what the restrictions would be. In fact it couldn’t have been easier flying there and back to Barcelona. None of the queues and delays that we had been expecting and a very pleasant and joyful time in all.

The Cathedral in Barcelona – beautiful, even with scaffolding!

Seeing the sea, eating tapas, visiting the Sagrada Familia, walking the Ramblas – it was all lovely. But it is good to come back, to Southwark Cathedral and I was glad to land in time to cast my vote in the local elections. So this is not a real Living God blog, just to say I am back and my feet are on the ground. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring – there’s lots in the diary to be excited about.

Loving God, sustain us in all that we do and through the challenges that await us. Amen.

Sand between my toes

There isn’t a Living God blog this week because I am on my post-Easter holiday. It’s the first trip abroad since the beginning of the pandemic, so to say I am excited would be an understatement! But I’ll be praying for you if you will pray for me. Bless you, my friends.

Lord Jesus, you took a break, and found a deserted place to rest; may we have the courage to lay aside our tasks and take a deep breath … and relax. Amen.

Holy Land

A pilgrimage for returning pilgrims

My Lent Diary

A journey from ashes to a garden

In the Steps of Martin Luther

A Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage 2017

sabbaticalthoughtsblog.wordpress.com/

Canda, Jerusalem, Mucknall

Southwark Diocesan Pilgrimage 2016

Hearts on Fire - Pilgrims in the Holy Land

A good city for all

A good city for all

In the Steps of St Paul

Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage June 2015

LIVING GOD

Reflections from the Dean of Southwark

Andrew Nunn's reflections from General Synod

the personal views of the Dean of Southwark