It has been a long and demading, but exciting week. It began with a breakfast in Roast restaurant listening to Terry Waite and it ended with the Patronal Festival of Christ the King. And in between those things there was the meeting of the General Synod and the visit to the Cathedral by Her Majesty The Queen.
Terry Waite was speaking about development work in Africa but he was doing so on the twenty-second anniversary of his release from captivity. It was astonishing to realise that it was so long ago since he and others were being held hostage in the Lebanon. In so many ways, the situation in the Middle East has become even more complex in those intervening years. Terry has since been back to meet those who were his captors and to be reconciled to them. When he spoke of that it was extremely moving and one of those challenges when you ask yourself, could I possibly have grace sufficient and the courage needed to do such a thing myself.
Reconciliation is something though that needs to happen and it was obvious from the General Synod that a huge amount of work at bringing the members of the Synod back together, following the disaster of last November’s vote on the ordination of women to the episcopate, has borne much fruit. It felt like a completely different place. If you have been praying for the Synod – thank you – it really has made a difference.
You can read my full set of reflections from the General Synod here. I won’t go into everything again as I would just be repeating myself, but all I will say is that coming away from Westmister was such a different experience from this time last year. It gives you are real sense of hope that things can change.
The day after the Synod ended we welcomed Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh to the Cathedral. The purpose of the visit was to see the Diamond Jubilee window which was given by the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and made for us by Liefur Bridefjord from Iceland. The window was dedicated on the day of the Pageant on the river last June but this was the first opportunity for a royal visit. It also gave us the opportunity to show Her Majesty the work in progress on the Jubilee Copes which are being made by our Broderers for the bishops of the diocese.
I have to admit to feeling terribly nervous on Wednesday but Her Majesty has a way of putting you at your ease and it ended up being a really tremendous experience for me, personally, but more importantly for the Cathedal community. I didn’t forget anyones name – and with me that is very likely – and everything worked like clockwork. Of course, the story that emerged was of the Cathedral cat, Doorkins, who was there asleep on the Chancellor’s chair as Her Majesty gazed on him/her (we’re not sure which Doorkins is – no one has ever managed to get close enough to find out) and oblivious to the whole thing!
Ending the week and beginning the new one with the Feast of Christ the King, made us think about the nature of kingship and majesty. But one thing is certain, we showed allegiance and affection for Her Majesty on Thursday and deep devotion to Christ our King today. There is no conflict in this and, of course Her Majesty is one with us in the faith we share, and she too is a citizen of the kingdom which will see all earthly dominions fade away.
In between it was good on Saturday to talk in the Cathedral Book Group of which I am a member about ‘Honest to God’. In this 50th anniversary year of its publication, it was good to see how it still manages to provoke discusion and diasgreement amongst people. Its publication was ten years after the Queen was crowned. A great deal has changed in those years but some things remain – the true nature of the God we worship and adore, the Living God we seek to serve and whose kingdom we seek to build, here, now.
Lord, remember us in your kingdom.