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Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Syrians refugees are flowing into Europe. The Senior Chaplain of St Paul's Athens, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, reports that it is estimated that 17,000 are now present in Greece alone. Many have entered Greece by crossing in small boats from Turkey to the Greek islands. They desire freedom of movement throughout the European Union, however the official exits from Greece to other European countries are closed to them. This further aggravates the challenging immigrant problem that already exists in Greece – a country itself suffering greatly from austerity measures.
At present 200 Syrians are on hunger strike outside of the Greek Parliament so as to press their case. They are only four minutes walking distance from St Paul’s Anglican Church. The photos in this post are scenes from this protest. St Paul’s still participates in the ‘Church in the Street’ initiative - a soup kitchen, five years in the running, presently providing 700 meals each day. Increasingly Kurdish Syrian families are recipients of the food.
Fr Bradshaw and I are in consultation with the Churches Commission on Migration in Europe (CCME) about how to address this added crisis, now facing the Greek Churches and agencies.
Almighty and all powerful God, creator of the world and the nations
We bring before you all those affected by the conflict in Syria.
We pray for an end to violence against all civilians.
We pray for those forced to flee their homes and who are now refugees: we pray that we may not ignore their pleas for help.
We pray for those in positions of power who have the means to make a difference to these lives; guide those whose actions might bring about a just peace in their homeland.
|Deacon Frances with Dean Andrew Nunn|
Monday, 24 November 2014
Rowan Williams, Meeting God in Mark. SPCK 2014. ISBN 978-0-07250-7. £8.99
Next Sunday, Advent Sunday, begins a new year in the liturgical cycle. The Sunday Gospels from Advent 2014 to Christ the King 2015 (year B) will feature mainly from St Mark's Gospel. Priests, deacons and licensed lay ministers who preach regularly know this, of course. I can think of no better way for preachers and the faithful in general to get ready for "the year of Mark" than to read the former Archbishop of Canterbury's little book, Meeting God in Mark.
The second Gospel is often overlooked by Christians who might prefer the clear exposition of Christ as teacher in Matthew, or the moving concern of Christ for the poor and outcast in Luke, or the mystical theology of John. But Williams gets to the heart of Mark's unique style and purpose in his Gospel in showing how, in Christ, God's new reign becomes manifest in a totally alarming, if often misunderstood, way.
In this concise volume (86 pages) Williams opens up the deep meaning of what Mark means by "good news", and "Son of Man". He also explains why Jesus appears to make ambiguous, even disparaging, comments about his miracles he performs or the parables he tells. There is a tantalising suggestion that the Passion account in Mark may stem from "the experience of early Christians walking reflectively in the footsteps of Jesus in his own city". Rowan also finds the tradition intriguing that much of Mark may come from the reminiscence of St Peter.
This book clearly comes from years of scholarly study and meditative reflection on the second Gospel. Williams' book is essential reading for anyone interested in the utterly radical revolution in the understanding of God, his Kingdom, and his love, which St Mark presents.
Questions for group discussion as well as a suggested Lenten reading guide are included.
Sunday, 23 November 2014
|Madeleine chats to another delegate at the ECEN Conference|
Madeleine points out a particularly relevant piece of information for this diocese: that the COP21 Climate Summit is scheduled from 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris. This will be a major global event, gathering world political leaders and many stakeholders from civil society. It is proposed that there are to be pilgimages from European Churches to Paris around the time of the summit, so that the Church has a visible presence at that time.
Saturday, 15 November 2014
The Revd John Barker, priest-in-charge in Yerevan, reports on an "intensive but very meaningful series of services of Remembrance" in the Armenian capital. On Sunday evening, 9 November, the usual service of Holy Communion was held that included prayers for family members and friends of members of our congregation that have died in times of war and violence
Then on Monday evening, 10 November, at 6 pm an ecumenical service of prayers for peace and reconciliation, organised jointly with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Director of Inter-Church Relations, represented Catholicos Garaging II. The choir of the host Church, St Zoravor enriched the worship.
On Remembrance Day itself, 11 November, the traditional service was held to commemorate all those who have given their lives in times of war so that we might live in peace. This service was organised jointly with the British and German Embassies in Armenia, and proved to be a very moving act of remembrance and respect. Fr John led the service jointly with Pastor Hans-Joachim Ederlen from the German Lutheran Church, and a choir made up of children of ten different nationalities from the international school providing the music.
Friday, 14 November 2014
The Revd Dr Matthias Grebe, a priest of this diocese currently serving a curacy in Bonn and Cologne, is also a theologian whose work on Karl Barth is now receiving serious acclaim in the academic world. Dr Grebe has studied at Tubingen, Cambridge, and Princeton.
A book which carries forward his doctoral dissertation has just been published entitled: Election, Atonement, and the Holy Spirit. Through and Beyond Barth's Theological Interpretation of Scripture.
The significance of this study is underlined by Professor David Ford, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. In his Foreword to Dr Grebe's book, Professor Ford writes:
Karl Barth’s doctrines of election and atonement are surely among the greatest achievements of Christian theology. They also contain some of the deepest and most daring biblical interpretation ever written. And throughout his works Barth challenges his readers to explore, test and if possible improve on how he understands scripture. Matthias Grebe has taken up this challenge.
Dr Grebe both appreciatively sounds the depths of Barth’s doctrines of election (or predestination) and atonement (or reconciliation) and also perceptively examines biblical passages that are central to them. The result is a fascinating variation on Barth’s understanding of salvation that is based on Dr Grebe’s own fresh interpretation of scripture.
Nor is that all. In Chapter Five he goes beyond his Cambridge doctoral dissertation, that I had the privilege of supervising, to extend his discussion by relating it to the Holy Spirit and to ordinary life. Here Barth’s radical (and rather neglected) theology of the Holy Spirit is drawn upon to face squarely such difficult issues as human freedom and the possibility of salvation for all. The distinctiveness in being Christian lies, as in Barth, not in Christians being the only ones to be saved but in the specificity of the gift of the Spirit to them.
This is a book that immerses readers in good theology and invites them further and deeper into theological, biblical wisdom on some of the most demanding issues in Christian thought.We congratulate Matthias on this achievement! Details on his book, including how to order a copy, can be found here: http://wipfandstock.com/election-atonement-and-the-holy-spirit.html
|The Revd Dr Matthias Grebe at his ordination to the priesthood last June|
Thursday, 13 November 2014
St Nicholas' Ankara was packed with standing room only on Remembrance Sunday, 9 November. Ambassadors and Military Attachés attended from Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Germany, Japan, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium and France. Not to mention the regular parishioners.
A reception following the service was hosted by His Excellency Richard Moore, the UK Ambassador to Turkey.
|Ambassador Richard Moore (2nd from right) with other diplomatic representatives|
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
St Nicholas's Ankara is a parish with a very rich cross-section of parishioners. Many are associated with the sizeable diplomatic, international and NGO community in the Turkish capital. Some are on short-term assignments in the country. Some are refugees fleeing persecution in their home countries.
On Saturday 8 November, 8 persons were baptised and 10 confirmed. All of the candidates had fled dangerous situations in their homeland. The service was bilingual English and Farsi.
The parish has an extensive programme of welcome and accompaniment for refugees. Like all congregations of the Church of England, there are regular programmes for the catechesis and preparation for the sacraments for those who are new to the Faith. One of the delightful aspects to the parish is the group of young parishioners who take great care and pride in their ministry of preparing the Church for worship before people arrive and serving as acolytes for the Eucharist.
Typical of an international congregation, the members enjoy feasting together, and sharing the experience of multicultural food and fellowship.
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
I must confess that I didn’t notice it at first. It wasn’t until a letter of congratulations arrived that I realised that the day of my election as bishop, 7 November 2009, was also the Feast of St. Willibrord. I don’t want to speculate on the deeper meaning of this coincidence, especially as I am a bishop in Bonn and not in Utrecht. But seeing as the election synod was not intentionally held on that particular commemoration day, I take it as a small sign from “above” about the missionary aspect of the church – and therefore of the office of bishop, too.
It is a long time since the days of St. Willibrord when one was able to bring people to faith with a fiery sermon or a small miracle. I haven’t yet managed to do that, at any rate. And I know many Christians who are happy simply if nobody loses their faith as the result of listening to a sermon these days. Some people think you can advertise faith like you can advertise a tin of biscuits. I don’t agree because that would be to identify or confuse advertising and public relations with mission and preaching. But the two differ in one essential point.
Advertisers draw attention to the advantages of a product – which we as a church also do when we advertise the gospel, of course. But when a famous celebrity advertises a certain product, nobody seriously believes that they are convinced that what they are saying about it is actually true. We might even think it’s likely that they don’t use the product at all.
Mission and preaching are quite different because they require a credible preacher. Whether they like it or not, preachers are – and always have been – part of the message. Jesus would not have found any disciples if he had not lived by what he preached. And St. Chrysostomos is said to have invited anyone interested in the Christian faith into his house to live with him for a while. In other words, he was convinced that the guest would come to faith as a result of his personal example alone. I don’t know whether we would dare today to invite someone into the vicarage or bishop’s residence in an attempt to bring them to faith. We might even be a little worried that they could see a side of church life that could prove to be a deterrent.
If we want to bring the gospel to the people, we need to demonstrate it in our own lives. Missionary Christians cannot be like those portly sports dignitaries who march in with the athletes at the Olympic Games despite obviously not having done any sports themselves for years. The people who listen to what we say and come to us as spiritual advisors and worship leaders have a keen eye for whether we are being authentic or merely playing a role. And the same people will quickly notice and react with disgust if they see that the behaviour of the church’s representatives has nothing to do with the gospel.
What really matters in mission and preaching became clear to me when I read “The Man Without Qualities” by the German-Austrian writer Robert Musil, who died in 1942. In his uncompleted novel, Musil makes an interesting distinction between “for-people” and “in-people”. For-people live for peace, love and justice – but not in peace, love and justice. When they stand up for something, they have already lost sight of what they are standing up for. Musil argued if we live in peace we wouldn’t have to stand up for it, because we would radiate peace naturally through the way we live our lives.
This immediately reminds us of the scriptures that tell us that as Christians we live in Christ. So the question is: Do we really live in Christ, in the Gospel, in the Kingdom of God? Or are we only standing up for them?
I believe that people today have a very keen sense of whether we as Christians are in-people or for-people. And on this distinction hangs the outcome of all our missionary efforts. Of course it is important to plan good campaigns and inspiring events. But what ultimately counts most of all is the personal testimony of our lives. On that point nothing has changed since the days of St. Chrysostomos or St. Willibrord.
In the name of the Anglican and Old Catholic bishops in Continental Europe
Bishop Dr Matthias Ring, Bonn
|Old Catholic Church in Hannover|
Monday, 10 November 2014
On 30th October the Acting Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, the Venerable Peter Potter, licensed the Revd Jana Jeruma-Grinberga as priest-in-charge of St Saviour's, Riga, Latvia. The historic Church in downtown Riga was full for the service. Although a Church of England congregation, St Saviour's is a home to people from many nations. It has an impressive programme of outreach in the community.
The appointment of Jana is a first fruit of the signing of the Porvoo Agreement by the Evangelical Latvian Lutheran Church Abroad, which occurred last September. Jana was ordained a priest of that Church and as we are now in communion she was able to be appointed to a Church of England position, (after receiving the Archbishop of Canterbury's permission under the Overseas Clergy Measure in the usual way).
Although Jana is licensed as a priest in this diocese, many will be interested to know that her last position was actually as a bishop. She was the first woman bishop of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, appointed to that office in 2009 and which she held until 2013.
Born in England of Latvian parents, Jana trained for the sacred ministry in an Anglican theological college. She brings a rich pastoral experience to this diocese, and extensive ecumenical experience. She is, of course, fluent in Latvian.
We welcome her most warmly to our family.
Monday, 3 November 2014
On Sunday 2 November the Feast of All Saints was celebrated in St Mark's Church in Florence. Besides being a time to remember departed loved ones and parishioners, this 70th anniversary year of the liberation of Italy was marked with special prayers for those who served and those who fell in that campaign.
|St Mark's Churchwarden Colonel Mark Ridley reading the first lesson|
Their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Canada and the UK were present for the occasion as well as military attachés to Italy from Poland, the UK, Canada, and the USA. The Archbishop of Florence was represented by Monsignor Timothy Verdon.
At the start of the service, St Mark's Florence Chaplain, Fr William Lister read a message sent for the occasion by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
|Canadian Ambassador Peter McGovern, Col. Newman, St Mark's Chaplain Fr William Lister, UK Ambassador Christopher Prentice|
|Mrs Sandra Annovazzi, with daughter-in-law Valeria and son Philip, with Fr William Lister|