One of my hopes in writing this daily piece is that it helps those beyond the university campus to hold what is going on up here in prayer. Today I got to be part of that when I joined the Third Order Franciscan Praying Presence at Greyfriars in the city. Franciscan tertiaries from the UK and beyond are following a daily prayer routine for the conference in the place where the very first Franciscan house in England was founded, during the saint’s lifetime, in 1224.
The chapel is part of the original buildings and has miraculously survived the reformation and all that has happened since. My task was to preside at the noon Eucharist and then share lunch. It was a chance to preach on the day’s text (John 10.1-10; I am the door of the sheepfold) and relate it to the Franciscan charism. Prayer is being stepped up on campus too. From today on there is a vigil from 0900 to 2100.
This afternoon saw the second set of Windsor Continuation Hearings, the papers for which are now available on Thinking Anglicans. The pattern tended to be conservative TEC followed by liberal TEC with some good, and good natured, speeches on both sides. Most telling was the temperamentally conservative bishop who personally opposed the consecration of Gene Robinson but still has territorial invasions in his diocese. We need a tool that will allow these to be examined; maybe the WCG paper suggests something (though it needs some beefing up in my view). (By the way, thanks for all the comments and links readers have added, as I said, I’m not responding to each but am taking you with me on the journey.)
Tonight’s main speaker was Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, he’s well worth listening too, especially on religion and culture, but I’d accepted an invite from USPG who kindly support our work with Peru. Anyway, last time I invited Rabbi Sacks to something he sent apologies, so it felt fair enough. The USPG reception was humbling. In rapid succession I spoke with the Bishop of Harare and the Archbishop of Burma, amazing people living out Christian lives and ministries under appalling conditions. The Archbishop of Southern Africa spoke movingly to the assembled gathering. A wise friend from a conservative African province said to me, “If you disagree with your husband or wife, you don’t kick them out; you just carry on walking side by side and believe things can change in the future”.
This morning’s Eucharist was presided over by the Indian Ocean province. I was surprised to see my friend Graham Cray, bishop of Maidstone and suffragan of Rowan on the platform. For a moment I thought I had the media scoop of the conference: “Diocese of Canterbury goes for alternative provincial oversight”. Surely not even Rowan’s worst nightmares feature that eventuality. All was soon cleared up; the province had invited its three links to each put a bishop on the altar.
Highlight of the day: hearing the voices of children outside playing in the summer sun as we celebrated the Eucharist in the thirteenth century Franciscan chapel.
Lowlight of the day: the heat and humidity in the Spouses’ Venue for the Hearings session. Is God trying to tell us something about bishops and hot air?