Our rector’s 5 minutes of fame!

For anyone who can read French, and who may be interested, here’s a link to a newspaper report about our Rector, here at Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand.

Sorry, I’m not doing a translation for you!

 

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What I ate in Waterloo

Kezzie said she likes food posts so I thought I’d tell you what I ate in Waterloo. (ETA, it’s turned into What I did in Waterloo, rather than just food. But that’s OK)

Nick & Pippa met me in Ikea car park – I had had lunch with Friends Cathy & Richard, enjoying the infamous Ikea meatballs, followed by their Dime cake

 
Then we drove from Clermont Ferrand to Waterloo – thankfully, all I had to do was sit in the back of the car, as it was a long journey, taking us about 10 hours. We stopped briefly for a coffee, and then for a sandwich, but nothing terribly exciting, food-wise. We finally arrived at the hotel at about 11.15 pm and fell into bed.

It was a great selection at breakfast – different bread and cakes, fruit, fruit salad, hot things (sausages, scrambled egg, baked beans), boiled eggs, meat and cheese, belgian waffles to make, a selection of honey, jam and other spreads. I had an egg, some bread and cheese spread and a bowl of fruit salad. Plus juice and coffee of course!

Nick drove us to All Saints’ Church, where the convention was taking place, and we registered, collecting the goody bags (not terribly goody-filled, but we weren’t there for the booty!) and hung around aimlessly for a while. We also chose the restaurant we wanted to go to that evening – a choice between an Italian, a brasserie, an Indian and a Thai restaurant. Feeling a bit shy, I decided to stick with Nick & Pippa, who chose the Thai.

Then we headed across the road to the big Carrefour for a coffee and a cross between a pain au raisin and a Danish Pastry. Eating healthily, hey, Fat Dormouse? I bought a wrap and a cereal bar, as I wasn’t sure whether I’d get peckish mid afternoon, and we went back to the church.

Convention started with various matters of business. The chicken-and-bacon wrap was consumed at about 16h, during the coffee break. Eucharist followed, and then we went back to the hotel to get changed, and to meet up to go to the restaurant. It was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel.

I can’t remember the name of what I had, but it was very delicious, involving duck and red curry sauce. I was the only person who wrote down what they had ordered, so I got my meal with no confusion at all. Others were unsure what they’d ordered and so who knows if they received the correct meals?! “Was mine with minced chicken?” “I think mine was green curry?” etc etc.  Nick, Pippa & I left quite early as we were still very tired.

Friday was a big day, as this was the day we started the ballots for our new Bishop-in-Charge…I chose the same breakfast (plus a pain au chocolat) and Nick drove us up to the church. We’d decided to miss Morning Prayer, just to give ourselves plenty of recuperation time. Pippa, as a non voting spouse, took the option of going on the Battlefield tour (which she said was interesting but exhausting) but Nick & I were fully involved. The ballots were interspersed with other business, reports and so forth, so it was an interesting and informative morning. About 30 minutes after each vote had been cast, Felicity, one of the tellers (vote counters) from All Saints, would come silently into the room and hand a folded piece of paper to the Bishop, who would then wait for a break in the proceedings to announce the results. My preferred candidate, and another, dropped out after the first two ballots – I think it’s a shame, as I suspect Steven’s votes would have grown during the following “battle”, but there you go…

Lunch was provided by the Church catering team – delicious soups (choice of four – pumpkin, carrot and lentil, tomato with meatballs, tomato. I had the pumpkin and it was yummy.), with various quiches and salads – and deep, intense conversations were carried out as we compared our thoughts on the two remaining candidates. Interestingly, while the votes were close, it was clear that the majority of the clergy preferred one candidate and the majority of the laity preferred the other.

The afternoon session opened with prayer, and then further ballots, and other business. Still neither candidate was receiving a majority in both the clergy and laity vote, so there was some discussion regarding how this might be resolved…The Bishop finally said he would take advice overnight, but not to worry, as these things could go to more than 10 ballots and we had to simply pray,and to be open, and to trust that the Holy Spirit would guide us . The session closed, and we headed back to the hotel to rest, to opnder and to get changed for the Bishop’s Banquet.

This time of rest gave me an occasion to consider. With my preferred candidate out of the running, I’d actually been dithering between the two remaining: which should I choose? I’d heard people’s views, and had been flip-flopping between the two candadates, half thinking I shouldn’t keep changing my mind. But Paul Gordon could offer this….But Mark can help us do that….In my deliberations, one of them was winning on the “Taking the Convocation Forward” front, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that, despite seeming less exciting, one was more “right” than the other. Finally, as I thought about the two of them (both great candidates) I had a sense of peace about the one I’d voted for last. Don’t worry if he doesn’t seem quite “right”, the Spirit seemed to say, “Trust me.” So I did. I voted for this candidate in the rest of the ballots.

Feeling at peace, I had a short snooze and then got changed for the Bishop’s Banquet (Dress: elegant) It was in a rather nice function room/restaurant, about a 20 minutes coach ride away. We had some glasses of fizzies before the meal, and then several little amuses bouches– roast beef on horse radish cream, salmon on avocado, gazpacho etc. – while a talented acapella group sang various folk songs. After there was a choice of seafood, Thai or “Mediterranean” cooking. I’m always slightly dubious about shellfish and so on, and I’d had Thai food the night before,  so I went for the mediterranean – moussaka, and various cold vegetable dishes. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

The Bishop gave his speech, and gave out awards – always a bit emotional – to those who had done particularly good work through the year. Followed by dessert (several delicious cakes to choose from – I went for raspberry) and coffee, we headed home in the coaches at about 23h.

It seemed important to go to Morning Prayer on Saturday, so we had a quicker breakfast than the past couple of days, and headed to church. The service was led by Revd Katie Osweiler, the curate at the church. She had just had some terrible news that a friend and neighbour back in the US had been killed outside his house. She was trying to process the news as well as lead us in worship, so, as you can imagine, it was an emotional service.

The spouses went off for a day in Brussels, while we then headed into the next round of ballots, which was still a stalemate. So Bishop Pierre suggested we took a long coffee break and spoke to as many people as we could, outlining what we saw as the good points of both candidates. We were not trying to convince people of our view, but rather trying to discern which we felt was the right person; I was happy to stick with what I felt I was being led to do. So after coffee break we went in to the next ballot (N° 7) – result: another stale mate, with the laity majority for one, and the clergy majority for another, but with a significant movement in the clergy vote.

Time for lunch – again, prepared by the Church hospitality team, we had tacos and tortillas with all the trimmings. Over lunch much discussion ensued, but also time for some relaxation. Nick went outside “to watch the cars go past”, I hadn’t had much time to eat as I had to help Richard, the secretary, prepare a paper for the afternoon session.I would have liked to have gone back for more lunch, but didn’t have time!!

We had the next ballot, and Denis our Treasurer gave his report…I always find budgets very difficult to get my head round, but other people asked insightful questions and the time passed relatively quickly. When all the tellers trooped back into the room, instead of just Felicity, we knew that a result had been reached. Mark Edington had been elected. The press release read thus:

The Rev. Mark D.W. Edington of the Diocese of Massachusetts has been elected the next Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. He was elected on the eighth ballot on October 20, 2018. The election took place during the annual Convention of the Convocation in All Saints Church in Waterloo Belgium. 

Our Profound Thanks

The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe expresses its profound thanks to The Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler, The Rev. Steven Paulikas, and The Very Rev. Dr. Benjamin Shambaugh for offering themselves as nominees in this Bishop election process as we discerned the direction and future of the Convocation. We thank their families, and their parish and ministry families for their support and prayers during this process. We ask God’s richest blessings on their continuing work in the Lord’s vineyard.

It was rather difficult to concentrate after that, especially as the Bishop was the one who phoned Mark – and had him on speakerphone held next to the microphone so we could hear his reaction. Which was measured, and considered, and humble. A murmur of appreciation ran round the room on hearing it. One of the priests who had been voting for Paul Gordon, rather than Mark, gave a brief speech, emphasising that while he, and others who were disappointed, were 100% behind Mark they still needed time to deal with their feelings and please could people be sensitive to the fact that there were people in the room who were not in an ebullient mood. Which, I’d like to think, everyone was.

Business continued, while others more techie than I set up a Skype call with Mark (who, by this time, had been awake over in the US, for more than 36 hours, waiting for the results – as after every ballot the candidates had been phoned with the results) Here he is addressing the Convention

Finally, the end of a long day was reached. Although there was Evening Prayer planned, several of us felt too tired to attend, so we went back to the hotel. I dozed for a while, but then felt really rather hungry (having missed out on seconds at lunch time) So I took my drawing materials, went to the bar and had a beer and a packet of crisps and some complementary peanuts; I sat in a quiet corner for an hour zentangling and thinking and decontracting.

Nick drove us back to All Saints where a caterer and the Hospitality team, had prepared another excellent meal…I ended up sitting on a table with people I didn’t know very well, but by now it was OK. I felt much more at ease than at the beginning of the Convention. We started with “fish three ways” – a mackerel paté, a tomato stuffed with tiny shrimps, and a piece of salmon in sauce – which was lovely. Then there was a choice of pork in a Kriek beer sauce (cherry) or Chicken Waterzooi (a rich stew and soup of chicken or fish, vegetables, cream and eggs). I’m afraid I had a helping of both; I think I preferred the pork, but it was a close run thing. Vegetarian options were available. Dessert was a choice of more delicious cakes – again, I chose a raspberry/vanilla concoction.

Then we were led upstairs, where Felicity had set up a slide show of some of the creative arts that had taken place throughout the Convocation, and announced the creation of the  Whalon Fund for the Creative Arts – our “gift” to Pierre, our outgoing Bishop. Pierre was very touched.

Soon after, Nick, Pippa and I headed back to the hotel, although I believe dancing went on well into the night. I met Caireen, our rector’s wife, at the bar and we decided to have a quiet, relaxing nightcap…Sadly, because of an upset person (I can’t say more) it turned into a less-than-relaxing counselling session, but I hope that we were able to do some good. I got to bed at about half past midnight!

On Sunday it was the closing Eucharist, but before church I wanted to buy some flowers for the person who had been very upset the evening before. I’d already noticed a florists not too far from the hotel, on our travels up and down the road to the church, so I checked what time it opened and scooted out to get them. I was able to buy a sweet little bouquet which could be popped into a little carrier bag that I had, so as not to be obvious. I think the recipient was grateful.

The Eucharist was an emotional, triumphant, delightful affair which touched me a great deal. Lunch was again provided afterwards, and then we dispersed for our various destinations all over Europe.

My journey home was not, however, as relaxing as I had hoped. But, as this has already gone on far too long, I’ll tell you about that another time!

Meeting the Candidates.

What an interesting time I had in Paris on Thursday & Friday!

I went up on the train, and arrived at Paris-Bercy at two o’clock; making my way to the Metro station Alma Marceau I remembered the giggles that Nick and I had when we were in Paris for the Convention a few years back. There is an announcer for all the metro stations for those who have sight problems, and on Line 9 (I think) he has an outrrrrrrrrrrrrrrageous French accent – which one would expect in France, but it is more so! – Nick and I found the pronunciation of the stations on this line incredibly funny, especially when he announced the station “Miromesnil”. The other thing that made us laugh (very childish) was that as we arrived one or t’other of us would say “If I ever have a llama I’m going to call it Marceau”**

When I arrived at the American cathedral, the Junior Guild ladies were setting up for the reception before the “Town Hall” – Q&A session – at 6 pm. So I helped them layout cakes and biscuits, teacups and saucers, until it was time, and people started arriving. I’m not very good in situations like this, but I managed to “work the room” and to give each candidate the card I’d made or them. Last week I had written a verse on each one, that I somehow thought had been “given” specially for each candidate. I might be imagining this, and it was completely random, but I believe God led me to each specific verse for each particular candidate. During this time, each candidate made a personal video – we decided to do it this way, rather than asking them to bring one along, to give a level playing field: each one having someone to film it, each person being in the same room, etc so that the techno-whizzy candidates wouldn’t hold an advantage over those who are less computer savvy. You can view them here if you wish to.

Then there was the Q&A session, which was videoed so that anyone from the parishes who couldn’t make it to the live sessions (or anyone else for that matter!) can view them. This was interesting too, as we saw how each candidate answered each question – they had had the questions in advance and so had been able to prepare an answer, maybe giving the opportunity to get across their “buzz points”. But the “questions from the floor” was even more revealing – these were questions that the candidates had no warning of, and not every one got asked the same question. Here I felt certain people fared better than others, with one candidate giving what I felt was a poor answer to a question about child abuse – although it’s important to take into account this was at the end of a long and exhausting day, with the question being answered on the hoof. After further consideration perhaps a fuller, more rounded answer would have been given. If you go to this link you can see a further link to the videos taken of the sessions.

After 2 hours of questions, there was then the reception in the Deanery of the cathedral. Here it was voting delegates, transition committee, priests of the convocation – and, for the poor candidates, more close up questioning! There was, however, wine and really delicious snacks to help (or hinder!) . I got the chance to speak to the spouses a bit more, although I didn’t speak to all the candidates again.

Then I left to stay at someone’s apartment overnight. The candidates were being whisked off to Munich on Friday, for their Q&A session on Saturday, then on to Rome for Q&A on Sunday! What a whirlwind tour! With each city comes a visit to other work being done in the Convocation, such as the work being done with refugees at the Joel Narfuma Refugee Centre in Rome.

I think that for me, there is one candidate that is standing out, but my “second place” candadate has definitely changed in the light of the walkabout in Paris. I look forward to listening to the videos from Munich and Rome to see if my opinions change, or are reinforced. It’s hard not to be too biased when listening: it’s easy to think “Oh I don’t think he’s right” – so I don’t listen to his answers properly. The elections in October are going to be really interesting…

** I have several of these “If I ever have a …I’m going to call it…” jokes. For example, If I ever have a lizard I’m going to call it Eddie, If I ever have a seagull I’m going to call it George, If I ever have a donkey I’m going to call it Hotie.

EXPLANATION: Eddie Izard is a British comedian, George Segal is an American actor, and Don Quixote is, well, Don Quixote!!

Prayer…

 

DISCLOSURE

 

Prayer is like watching

for the kingfisher.

All you can do is

Be where he is likely to appear

And wait.

Often, nothing much happens.

There is space, silence

And expectancy.

No visible sign.

Only the knowledge

That He’s been there

And may come again.

Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,

You have been prepared.

But sometimes when you’ve almost

Stopped expecting it,

A flash of brightness

Gives encouragement.

 

Ann Lewin

O, taste and see…

Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, when the Church celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity, the triune nature of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But for many, these almost exclusively “male” terms do not really help define the nature of God. Other terms, such as Creator, Saviour, Enabler, can mean more as they give a clue as to the nature of each aspect of God.

I know that for a lot of people the Trinity is a difficult concept – are we talking about one God, or three Gods?

For me, it’s almost as simple as thinking about a person. Let’s take Morag:

To her children, first and foremost, Morag is “mum”. But that is not the end of it. She is not just “mum”

Morag is a social worker. She helps people find their way off the streets. To her clients, Morag is (perhaps) their “saviour” – she gives them what they need to find a new life. But that’s not the end of it. She’s not just a social worker.

Morag likes to get together with her friends, and she loves chatting, giving advice, helping her friends improve themselves and be the best they can be. Maybe she volunteers for a charity, maybe she works for The Samaritans… But she is more than just these things.

We would not say that Morag is “just a mum” or “just a social worker”. She is all of these things and more.

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is trying to explain this about God. S/he (I don’t want to say “it” but nor do I want to use a gender specific term) is not just a Creator-God, as that implies once the creation is finished, then so is God’s work. Nor is s/he just a Saviour-God, nor just an Enabler-God. S/he is all of those things and more. We can’t just pick one aspect of God and say “THIS is God” – however much we might want to.

I once preached a sermon on Trinity Sunday to the Eglise Reformée, in which I compared the Trinity to a Mars bar (Bear with me…) Here’s what I said:

Ici, j’ai un Mars.

Il y a le chocolat, la nougatine et le caramel. Chaque partie est délicieuse toute seule. J’adore le chocolat, j’aime la nougatine et le caramel. On peut manger les trois parties séparément. Mais ce n’est que quand les trois partis sont ensemble que nous avons la vraie friandise qui est le Mars. Sans chocolat, ce n’est pas un Mars, Sans nougatine, ce n’est pas un Mars, Sans caramel, ce n’est pas un Mars. Il est impossible de séparer les trois parties et encore avoir un Mars.

Dieu est un peu comme le Mars – c’est impossible de séparé les trois personnes de la Trinité. Les trois personnes  travaillent ensemble, ont la même volonté, la même énergie. Séparés on a le Père, le Fils, le Saint Esprit. Ensemble on a Dieu, l’inexprimable, qui mérite toutes nos louanges.

J’espère que je ne vous ai pas choqués avec cette petite métaphore. C’est seulement une petite plaisanterie, une autre manière d’expliquer quelque chose qui est impossible à expliquer. C’est aussi un petit rappel, parce que j’ai un Mars pour chacun de vous. Et quand vous mangerez votre Mars, je voudrais que vous pensiez à Dieu, que vous réfléchissiez sur la Mystère de la Trinité, et, avec l’auteur des Psaumes vous pourrez dire :

« Sentez et voyez combien l’Eternel est bon »

(C’est mieux en Anglais, parce que la traduction est « Goutez et voyez combien l’Eternel est bon », mais…tant pis !)

Sentez et voyez combien l’Eternel est bon.  AMEN.

I’m not quite sure what the congregation made of it, but if, as I suggested, they considered the Trinity each time they ate a Mars bar, well…Maybe it wasn’t completely wasted!

A post about chemo

This is a chemo & side effects post. Don’t feel you have to read it.

I’ve had a fairly grim couple of days – more mentally than physically. It’s interesting how this new chemo regime has had different effects to the first three “cures”. With the FEC100 I had a “lost weekend” when I was really tired, then slowly, over the following week I got my energy back, until I was almost back to normal, unless I tried to do too much. I lost my appetite for about 5 days, but then it was fine. Yes, I lost my hair, and had a touch of nausea, but it was (almost) a breeze.

This has been a harder regime… about a week after the first dose I started losing my taste buds, and salivary glands. Now there’s still the vestiges of sweetness that I can taste, but not much else.

The neuropathy – pains in the extremes (hands, feet, lower legs) + joints, caused by damage to these peripheral nerves – comes on about 4 days after, and lasts for another 3/4 days. This hasn’t been as bad this time round, as the doctor reduced the dose a little. It’s been bearable.

Interestingly, I haven’t had the same fatigue at the beginning – witness my Royal Wedding excursion! – but again, 4/5 days later it has hit me like a ton of bricks. Today I could barely walk the 500 metres to the podiatrist’s surgery, and I’m needing a 2 hour nap after lunch. And, although this does get slightly better as time goes on, I don’t think I could contemplate the 3 km walk I did back in March in my third week.

But both the first time, and this time, I have had a couple of days of depression, again at the same time – 4/5 days after the chemo. Because this has happened twice at the same time, I am assuming this is another side effect… I’ve tried very hard not to utter the words “it’s not fair”, but last night I had a good old moan, and weep to God. Especially about the taste bud issue. I reminded him of “my” verse and demanded that he kept his promise…and, do you know, I think he did.

I felt he was telling me to think about why this was happening – so I read some articles on the internet, that explained the reasons, and that gave some suggestions. I also felt he was telling me to think about how I coud learn to live with it better, and so gradually, I was able to calm down and make plans.

The biggest thing is that I haven’t been eating properly – which has probably affected my mood too. My mouth is now more sensitive than before, so all suggestions like “eat mints”, “spicy food” etc are no good, because they hurt! Textured food is still okay, but I’m going off too crunchy, again for the slight pain factor. So because of this, I’ve been eating badly. For example, yesterday I had a slice of bread and butter and a little madeleine cake for breakfast, lots of watered down fruit juice, and egg sandwich for lunch (2 slices of bread, one egg), and a small bowl of pasta, mince & aubergine for dinner.  Not exactly full of goodness!!

So, putting my plan into action today, I started the day with a banana/raspberry/strawberry smoothie, made with some ice cream. That helped get some vitamins into me, and, because of the sweetness, I actually enjoyed it.

The next part of the plan was a veggie soup for lunch – carrot, tomato, sweet potato & lentil. The best laid plans… I was too tired to make it today, & as Mr FD had cleared 8 litter trays, and had a meeting for the Cycle Club, I didn’t want to ask him to make it. Tomorrow, then!! But I did have a goats cheese & lettuce sandwich, with some cherry tomatoes, plus a piece of pannetonne. Not sure what dinner will be, but I’ll make sure it has veggies. If I drink, and drink, and drink, the salivary glands are a little better and food is (slightly) less cardboard-and-cotton-woolley!

So I’m going down the smoothies for breakfast, and veggie soup for lunch, plus a good meal in the evening. Plus DRINK, drink, drink!! That way I will get the good things I need to help me face up to this bastard cancer.

I don’t want to ever use that phrase “it’s not fair” – getting breast cancer is just life. The statistics are stacked high:, with 1 in 8 women contracting it. I don’t know what the repeat statistics are (& those are the ones that frighten me) but I ask those of you of a praying bent to remember K. She had a mastectomy in December 2016, and chemo & radiotherapy. She has just learned that the cancer has returned to both sets of lymph glands, and it has been diagnosed as Stage 4, that is, it has spread further, and is incurable. The shock for K has been enormous. A year after getting the all clear from her initial breast cancer she is facing this. Now, somehow, that IS “not fair”.  Please pray for her. I don’t know what to pray, but something…

Is this my church?

Somebody posted this on FB recently, with the tag line “What I love about being Episcopalian”:

 

click on the image to biggify (or read the text below)

It was taken at Coventry Cathedral (which, I suppose one could argue, is not Episcopalian, but Church of England, but we all come under the umbrella of “Anglican, so who’s that bothered?!). Here is a link to an interview with Rev. Kathryn Fleming, the Canon Pastor at Coventry Cathedral, explaining where the text comes from.

Here’s the text, as the photo is a little hard to read:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-heeled or down-at-heel.

We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.

We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas 10 years ago. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.

We welcome keep-fit moms, football dads, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps or don’t like organized religion. (We’re not that keen on it either)

We offer welcome to those who think the Earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because Granny is visiting and wanted to come to the cathedral.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither.

We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids or got lost on the Ring Road and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters and you.

Of course, something like this can never completely cover every eventuality, but I like this addition that someone made, as they commented on the friend’s post i “Please add a welcome to those who converse aloud with voices no one else can hear, those with Tourette’s who shout “shut up!”and other unpleasant things during the service, to those who have autism, invisible disabilities, and the cranky

I’m sure we could think of other things to add…

But my question is: Is this my Church?

I’d like to think it is.

I know it is my Lord – He welcomes everyone and anyone, but do we?