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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 3

25 January, 2015

"Do nought without a bishop" was the voice
Of Churchmen in those purer days of old;
And wonder we why all is poor and cold
Within our Zion? This one taint alloys
Our fair success. Our flocks and herds rejoice
Upon a thousand hills; our spreading fields
Stand thick with corn. God's vineyard only yields
A poor return.
Henry Jacobs,
the first Dean of Christchurch, NZ

Life was not easy for the earliest settlers in Australia and New Zealand, but church life was perhaps even more of a challenge. Uprooted from the established stability of the Church of England, many clergy and parishioners echoed the sentiments expressed in Henry Jacob's poem. One might also argue that things are not too different today. Australia seems to have weathered the GFC relatively unscathed, and even if hesitantly we still see ourselves as the "lucky land." Figuratively and literally our flocks probably do rejoice and our fields stand thick with corn. But most church-goers, and certainly those of a Catholic Anglican persuasion, would agree that God's vineyard is struggling. Jacobs' cry, "Do nought without a bishop" reflects the same nineteenth-century Tractarian call for reform, that was held so dear by his contemporary here at St Peter's Eastern Hill, Henry Handfield.

This week I received a most interesting e-mail from a parishioner, bemoaning Bp Graeme's absence from the parish due to his new Diocesan duties. It is a sentiment many of us relate to, and so clearly echoes Jacobs' cry: "One distraction if I may. I don't know what more erudite parishioners think, but for me the ceremonial role of a Bishop's presence is missed now that Graeme has moved on. I realise that he has other responsibilities to the Church in general, but the procession's ecclesiastic completeness is noticeably depleted without a senior clergyman functioning as the formal symbol of the authority of God in the Church which the Vicar ministers."

At St Peter's we have a strong tradition of doing nought without our friends in purple shirts. I am delighted to announce that we have a number of Episcopal visits already planned for the year, and God- or Archbishop-willing, we will have Bp Graeme back with us after Pentecost. So, in the meantime, please mark these dates in your diaries, and spread the word:

  • Sun. 1st February, 9.30 & 11am - Bp Alison Taylor
  • Sun. 29th March, Palm Sunday - Bp John Bayton (85th birthday!)
  • Sat. 4th April, 8pm Easter Vigil - Bp Philip Huggins
  • Sun. 19th to Sun. 26th July, Parish Mission - Bp Stephen Cottrell

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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