Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lighten our darkness ...

Anyone who read my last post will have thought: dismal. That's how she feels: dismal. And they'd have been right. And now I'm home again and I'm seriously tired - for whatever you feel, it's a demanding drive home after a long day - but I'm not dismal any more. Synod threw up things to concern and galvanise, and I may in time return to some of these things, but by teatime yesterday I'd cheered up.

Most of this transformation was effected by +Mark's sermon and charge to members of Synod at the Eucharist, where I found myself reaching for a truly old-fashioned medium ( the service booklet and a pencil) to record some of it. He was wearing a huge and extraordinary ring,* which had belonged to Bishop Forbes at the time of the 18th century Jacobite risings, and reminded us of the faithfulness it represents - the faithfulness of the Episcopal Church which over the years has fed others, not least the Episcopal Church in the USA. He exhorted us to a burning desire to proclaim the love of God in the communities we serve - serve as opposed to live in. The fact that at the moment we have no bishop does not stop our ministries, and we've not to let anyone tell us differently. Our task, he went on, is to be people who are open - open to the seeking of others, to those who will join us briefly and then move on; open to those who struggle elsewhere because of rules and regulations and find in our worship and our structures an openness and freedom. When we get bogged down in buildings and quinquennials we must ask: Who will I bring the light of God to today? This, said +Mark, is what we are about. The church has a voice - not of rules, commandments or exclusion, but simply a voice of love. He ended with the stirring reminder that today, in us, is the fulfilment of God's promise.

Somehow, that worked. And the good humour and yes, the love, survived the airless conditions of our windowless venue and the haphazard arithmetic of the tellers (why, I ask myself, was I chosen as a teller, again?) By the end of business this afternoon, we were ready to believe the bishop's closing words: we are a beautiful diocese, one which most people in the world want to visit, and whatever we might think, visitors find it wonderful to go to church on a Cal Mac ferry. We must stop moaning about long drives and difficulties, demolish the barriers that keep people from church, have the courage to speak about our church in the ordinary places where we find ourselves; we must enable the joy of faith and the love of God to be seen through us.

Yes, it worked. And I'm glad to have been proved unduly pessimistic: Moray diocese is fortunate in having a bishop who can light up a room, and we are lucky to have him on loan. Now we just need to find Another of The Same, as the old hymnbooks used to say. Here's to the election!

*For more about this ring, see Hugh's comment on this post.


  1. Yes, I too came hope greatly encouraged, there was the real sense that things had turned. We needed to understand our own diocese better and to work much more closely together and share in journey forward. The Standing Committee is now much more representative of the church across the diocese. Somethings have needed to change and now when we have no Bishop of our own is a realy opportunity for that change to take place.

    One small point you missed out. The ring Bishop Mark was wearing was given to Bishop Lowe on the death of Henry Cardinal of York, the brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, in recognition of Bishop Lowe faithfulness to the House of Stuart. It say something hugely ecumenical about our relatioship to the Roman Catholic Church in our diocese, indeed across the whole north of Scotland.

    Bishop Lowe wrote 'The lion in Mourning' Bishop Mark said it was never published although a number of copies were made oe belonged to The Library at the Theological College. Does anyone know where it is now?

  2. Christine
    Please amend my spelling!

  3. Thanks for the additional info, Hugh. I didn't want to get it wrong, and wasn't confident about that bit!
    As for your spelling: I can't do anything about it without deleting the comment and repasting it - and it's wonderfully idiosyncratic without detracting from meaning!

  4. Maureen (McK)10:40 AM

    Thank you for that write-up of +M's charge at the Eucharist. I, too, came away encouraged and very thankful for +M's love and care.

  5. Thank you Christine and Hugh. I was also greatly encouraged.

    The books from the old Theological College Library are in two places. The ones thought to be current are in the Glasgow Bible College and the rest are the ones Paul Fletcher referred to and are stored in Edinburgh. I will try to find out where The Lion in Mourning is.

  6. The Lyon in Mourning is available online from the National Library of Scotland, starting at

    Just ask a librarian!

  7. Catriona5:23 PM

    Nicely summed up :-)

    even if you did make me battle with alien technology to say so, oh cruel person that you are :-)

  8. Chris, I've nicked some of this for my Parish Website. I know you won't mind! There's stuff here that the whole Episcopal Church has to know and take to heart!

  9. And the link to this website is .... where? :-)

  10. I never forget the link. If you click on "read more..." you will find Mrs Blethers highlighted in orange, which is my link!

  11. Nah, Kenny, this was the link for all my avid readers who know you not! Never mind - it's here!