Sometimes people wonder what vicars do all day – we’re used to the joke you only work one day a week – so here is an example of one day. We got up early to prepare for all the practical things that were required not only for the service at Awali (service sheets, noticesheets, Easter News, electoral roll forms), but the Quiet half day that followed (thermos of coffee, cups, picnic lunch, material for reflection in the quiet times). We left promptly by 9am in order to be at Awali in time to set up both for the Communion Service and also coffee prior to the service as people arrived. It was a reflective service and for the sermon I had prepared an imaginative reflection of what it might have been like to be one of the Greeks (or Greek-speaking Jews) attending the festival “wanting to see Jesus”- John 12:20-33, the Gospel reading for the day. We had the use of the Princess Sabeeka Park for the times of quiet, in easy walking distance from the church and a beautiful setting. Tricia led a second session exploring the Rembrandt picture of the Return of the Prodigal drawing on some of the insights of Henri Nouwen and we ate lunch under a canopy in the shade and welcome breeze. After a cooler few days it felt as if summer had really kicked in.
At 1.45pm we speeded back to the Cathedral after a summing up of the themes of the day- I suggested that a unifying theme was homecoming: very obviously for the Prodigal, but also for the Greeks in finding Jesus and the unfolding passion story that enables us all to come home to God.
At 3.00pm there was aWedding Blessing in the cathedral – a couple from Canada and Cameroon, who had been married in a civil service in Korea but had longed for a church wedding. It was a joyful occasion and their teaching colleagues were very supportive and delighted to act as family for them: singing, reading and involving themselves fully in the service and the organization of the day.
At 4.15pm there was a final run through – a dress rehearsal- of TheTale of Three Trees which will be presented next Friday at 9.30am. Once they settled and concentrated, after a stern talking from the director, the young people did really well and it will be a moving occasion.It is a storyabout the dreams of three trees growing tall and strong on a hillside and of their hopes of what they might become when they are eventually chopped down: one has a longing to contain great riches, another has the hope to be powerful, and the third wanted to remain pointing to the heavens and the mysteries beyond them. Each of them sees their dream fulfilled, but not in the way they expected.
There was time for a quick shower and then out at 5.30pm and then out again to a restaurant in Al Um Hassan for the reception for the wedding blessing, an opportunity to meet Terence and Camille’s colleagues – a very international mix of people of varying ages who were clearly delighted to share in the occasion.After a long day we didn’t stay too late, in fact there was time for me (not Tricia this time) to go to the British Club to watch the final rugby match of the Six Nations: England against France.
I have enjoyed playing rugby in my past, and refereed after stopping playing; this particular game had a lot hanging on it. If England won by more than 26 points they would win the championship. It was one of the most exciting games in my memory and, though England won, they were six points short when the final whistle blew.