‘Can we stop on the way to the airport to see the Northern Lights?’ asked one of my companions in the taxi this morning. It was 4.45 am and raining – so it was never likely. The airport here stands in relation to Reykjavik as Glenrothes does to Edinburgh – expect that the space in between is utterly empty.
We sat round the table all day yesterday – Primates of the churches of Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and Portugal. And gradually themes with some kind of commonality began to emerge. There is the movement towards the disestablishment of the state churches of Scandinavia and the challenge of diminishing tax revenues. In one way or another, we are all facing the movement from being more or less established (well not at all in our case) churches of membership to being churches of discipleship. We talked of the impact of hard economic times – particularly in Ireland, Portugal and the Baltic Republics – and the effect of that on church life and congregations.
We went to lunch in the British Embassy and looked in vain for photos of the Cod Wars – and were entertained by the Icelandic Church.
I often wonder about these kind of meetings – which take time and resources. This was better than most – some real connection and possibility for the future.