Dean’s Blog January – February 2018

February 22, 2018 in Dean's Blog

Staff Lunch: Thursday 18th January 2018

01It has been difficult planning a Staff Lunch this year with various members of staff away for their holidays, so just before Renitha headed off to India we got together for a curry lunch, an opportunity to thank all our staff for their loyalty and hard work, which is especially demanding over the Christmas and New Year season, but is relentless throughout the year.

Tricia sadly was away this year visiting our first grandchild Isla Hope back in the UK, born a week before Christmas.

 

 

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:  Saturday 20th January 2018

02Sacred Heart, the Roman Catholic Church, traditionally hosts the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service and this year the service had been prepared by churches in the Caribbean on the theme “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power.” Exodus 15:6. There is always a danger that ecumenical services are very wordy and this was no exception with three lengthy readings before the service  Bishop Camillo led the service and I was invited to preach, drawing the themes of liberation of the Exodus experience, the transforming impact of the Exodus story throughout history and our shared call as Christians to liberate people in our own time and place.

 

Gala Piano Recital: Thursday 25th January 2018

  Perhaps the biggest event in the Cathedral for a long time was the Gala Piano Recital, which seemed to catch peoples’ imagination – both performers and audience.  0304The Cathedral was packed for what was a very special event with ten of Bahrain’s finest pianists choosing some of their favourite pieces and performing on our new concert piano.  The concert concluded with a piece for one piano and eight hands. A wonderful Ukrainian quartet brought the house down as they clowned around: pushing one another off the piano stools, doing exercises in time with the music, taking selfies, fighting over the music and yet all the time keeping the music going. The children in the audience mostly students of the performers could not believe their eyes at this adult behavior!

 

 

Farewell to RN Chaplain Martin Evans: Friday 24th January 2018

05We said our farewells to Chaplain Martin Evans in our usual way at the Cathedral by gathering a few people to give thanks and pray for him at the conclusion of the Friday morning service and to present a print of the Cathedral to him. He goes on to be Chaplain to Royal Marine Commandos. Martin has really become a part of the Cathedral community and encouraged a fine team from the Royal Navy to share in our life in the six months that they are all here. He has spoken at our Living Room Dialogue, celebrated and preached occasionally, joined Stephen and I for Morning prayer on Mondays and shared in both a baptism and Confirmation service. Sadly many from this generation from the Royal Navy here are coming to the end of their time in Bahrain and soon we will also be saying good-bye to Eddie and Laura.

 

 

 

 

Ordination of Peijin Zhu: Saturday 27th January 2018

06It was an honour for us to attend the Ordination of Peijin Zhu as priest  in Kuwait. Peijin spent ten days staying with us about four or five years ago and encouraging the Chinese community in their faith while she was here as well as immersing herself in the life of the Cathedral.  We have a great admiration for her and give thanks for the way that she has been used in God’s service and that her call to ordained ministry has been recognized and encouraged. It was a very special service and it was good to meet up with the Senior Chaplain in Kuwait Canon Michael Mbona and his wife Christine. What a rich expression of Christ’s Church we have in our Diocese wher the two chaplains serving are from Zimbabwe and China. We are very grateful for the hospitality of the Kuwait community, who met us at the airport provided us with a resting-place, organised a wonderful reception following the service and took us back to the airport in the middle of the night!

 

Budapest Break: Sunday 28th January – Saturday 3rd February 2018

07We have built into the rhythm of our year a week’s break post-Christmas and pre-Synod and this year flew on to Budapest through the night with a stop in Istanbul arriving mid-morning in Budapest. It’s a magnificent city with the river Danube flowing through its two halves Buda and Pest. One highlight was being able to catch up with the former British Ambassador to Bahrain, Iain Lindsay and his wife Bridget and with our daughter Philippa, who joined us there for a few days, attended a Wee Burns supper at St Columba’s the Scottish/Hungarian Reformed Church, where we were warmly welcomed by the Minister and the community an joined in some Scottish dancing. Hungary has a deeply troubling history and has found it difficult to direct its own destiny, overrun by the Ottoman Empire, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and more recently overrun by the Nazis and the Soviets.  This is reflected in Memento Park, which is full of huge Soviet propaganda statues including one statue which only has Stalin’s boots the rest destroyed. There is also the House of Horror, which was the place for interrogation for both Hungarian fascists and Soviets; it records the suffering experienced by so many at the hands of brutal regimes in its very recent history.

09Our youngest daughter, Philippa, joined for three days us, which was lovely. She and I ice-skated on Europe’s largest open air ice rink and then we all went and warmed up in an open air spa. We visited the main synagogue; the Jewish community experienced considerable suffering in the latter part of 10the Second World War and many were taken on trains to Auschwitz and some shot on the edge of the Danube – there’s a moving sculpture of their shoes and boots on the edge of the river to which people had added poppies and candles in memory of those who had been executed. There was a powerful and harrowing exhibition on Jewish life and the Hungarian Holocaust in the grounds of the synagogue. We attended a wonderful organ recital in St Stephen’s Cathedral – a huge reverberating sound in a magnificent space. We found our way around on the wonderful public transport system and walked as much as we could, enjoying Hungarian ghoulash soup and the Hungarian wines.

We enjoyed mostly fine and relatively mild weather in our time in Budapest, but the conditions were changing as we took the airport bus out to the airport to travel, courtesy of Wizz Air, on to the Diocesan Synod in Cyprus.

 

Doing God, Doing Good – Synod: 5-9th February 2018

The Diocesan Synod in Cyprus is always a good experience enabling clergy and laity from across the Diocese to meet together: to worship and receive thoughtful teaching on the theme for the week, to spend a quiet morning, to share food and do the necessary business of synod.

It was disappointing not to have our planned keynote speaker, Bishop Sarah Mullaly, who had recently been appointed the new Bishop of London and who was understandably preoccupied with her coming move, but the input we received from the three men taking her place – Christopher Futcher, Archdeacon of Exeter, Andy Bowerman, director of the Anglican Alliance and Robert Jones, Archdeacon of Worcester – was excellent.

As ever we came away encouraged by the experience of Synod, refreshed and not a little tired by the intensity of the week.

 

The Rev’d Anne Futcher: Bahrain for a month’s placement: Monday 12th February 2018 

11Link Dioceses sometimes find it hard to make a link tangible and worthwhile, so the arrival of Anne from Exeter diocese on a placement as part of her curate’s training has been something we have been looking forward to very much. We hope that it will be both an enlarging experience for her as surely it will be for us.

Sadly Anne missed her connection in Dubai, the Emirates flight from London arriving later than scheduled, and so she arrived several hours later than planned. But I had prepared a settling in and exploring Bahrain day to start her first full day in Bahrain and though our visit to the Bahrain Fort and archaeological museum was thwarted because of a large official gathering there we headed to Shaikh Isa’s House in Muharraq, one of our favourite destinations with visitors. We then headed to the British Club for a swim and lunch.

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday/ Valentine’s Day: Wednesday 14th February 2018

001There is quite a challenge linking together the themes of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday but in my address I recalled the sermon at our wedding when my theological college tutor, the saintly Professor CFD (Charlie) Moule, compared marriage to baptism and saying that “you need to become what you are. You have been made one; you need to become what you are.” I’d read earlier in the week of a small boy who was very excited by the coming Ash Wednesday service because he said: the baptism cross on his forehead would be made visible. In many ways then Lent is a season of becoming the child of God that we are and the traditional disciplines of Lent are ways of encouraging that becoming.

 

 

 

 

 

A Baptism and a Wedding and a Game of Cricket: Saturday 17th February 2017

12The baptism of Jonas at Awali church was a lovely occasion; he slept through the whole event very peacefully and was not even woken by water being poured over him, only emphasizing God’s initiative and grace in the whole event. 13It was made extra special for me as many of those attending I knew from a variety of different contexts. I selected Fiona to be the box office for this coming Thursday night’s concert tickets following the service and she managed to sell fifteen tickets, more than from the whole of the Cathedral congregation over the weekend.

From Awali Anne and I returned for an afternoon wedding between Petra, a Serbian Orthodox and Lawrence, a South African Anglican. It was good to see the bride who was clearly very nervous before the service relax and really enjoy the service.

 

 

 

1415From the wedding I headed down to a cricket pitch in the desert very near the National Stadium to join other Cathedral supporters of Haniel, playing in the final of an under-15 Schools Cricket tournament. As I arrived, the teams were just coming off, but it was good to be able to congratulate Haniel, whose team – The Indian school – had just won.

 

 

 

Hospitality

16Before Anne came, I’d suggested that members of the Cathedral and Awali communities might like to offer her hospitality and share their life journeys with her to enable her to get a grassroots feel for our life together. The invitations have not stopped coming in! On Tuesday she enjoyed two meals out….

 

 

 

 

The Theology of Reconciliation of Miroslav Volf: Wednesday 21st February 2018

17All of us are refreshed by the experiences and insights of visitors, so it was good to gather together both ministers and lay people, who have had some theological training, to sit under Anne and explore the radical theology of reconciliation of Miroslav Volf, a deep subject, but presented with great clarity by Anne. His understanding of reconciliation has been shaped deeply by his own personal experience of his parents’ reaction to the death of his brother, killed in an accidental shooting by a soldier and the experiences of living in Serbia during a very violent period.

We met in our living room and had ministers from the Church of South India, the Mar Thoma Church, the National Evangelical Church, the US Navy Base as well as our own community. We had refreshments first, then her presentation, which encouraged lively discussion and questions and then most of us went and had a meal at Vrindavan, our local Indian vegetarian restaurant, where the discussion continued. All of us felt that this is something that we should do more often, but it certainly is helped by having outside input.