Remembering Bishop John

We met today in St Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee to remember John – just a few weeks after his untimely death. The atmosphere in the Cathedral said to me that John was one of those people who didn’t seek or solicit the affection of others – but affection and warmth gathered around him.

Good liturgy – and the extraordinary music which Provost Jeremy Auld and Stuart Muir lead at St Paul’s. It’s bright, congregational and engaging – such that worship becomes a wonderful blend of words and music interwoven.

I listened to the Intercessions – worked around words written at various times by John – and to Trevor Pitt’s excellent sermon – and to the tributes from our own Bishop Mark and Fay Lamont. I felt again what I realised at John’s funeral – that there were things that John had thought deeply about and cared passionately about and somehow we failed to benefit from them as we should have. I’m thinking in particular about his work on British Worker Priests and his passion about how the church should engage with the life of the city.

We shall miss him greatly – in the College of Bishops, in the diocese and across our church. He came back to the place in which he grew up and he gave us of his best.

Octave

Sorry about the sudden throw-back – and about the loss in transmission. Tim the Geek has had to rescue me from some dark corner of the blogosphere – and many thanks to him.

So you’ll be glad to know that spring is on the way around here. There are few bits of snow still in the Blogstead courtyard – but people are at work in the polytunnels between Dundee and Perth and on the road north from Perth. So we should have fresh strawberries soon.

Welcome also to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – and to what I understand is National Obesity Week. I’ve been rushing about a bit as I usually do – Religious Leaders of Scotland offering an inter-faith gathering; another lurch in the search for a ‘Whole Church Mission and Ministry Policy’ and a sojurn in the trenches of diocesan life.

On Unity Week, I simply note that there is not a single item in my diary which relates to it.

What has been occupying us has been the important question of whether I can go to the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin without needing a passport. My former parishioners in Portadown were quite certain that Dublin was a foreign country – but it seems to be possible to fly there with photo-ID only – provided one flies with Aer Lingus. That means that my passport can be sent off into the black hole of Indian government bureaucracy to get me a visa for a visit to our potential companion diocese of Calcutta in three weeks time. So I was in a meeting today – attempting to be impressively primatial – when I received a text from Sharon who now runs my [working] life. ‘Did I have any distinguishing physical characteristics?’

Sad Day

News of the shootings today in America will stir deeply painful memories here – particularly in Dunblane.  The randomness, the lack of a cause .. makes the pain unimaginable.  I never look at the Cathedral without seeing in my mind the pictures of the funerals.  The community has moved on – but there is a strong sense of the deepest pain carried nobly and in private.  If you haven’t been, visit the standing stone memorial inside the Cathedral – it is simple, dignified and life-affirming.