are remembered in our calendar today. I just love the way in which it takes us on an annual round-the-world tour and across the centuries too. A powerful antidote to our anxious narrow focusses whatever our theology of the saints.
Pentecost Praise will be raising the roof again this year in Ely Cathedral – on May 20th at 7pm, with the Bishop’s Band providing the music. I will be baptising and confirming as usual, but everyone is very welcome. Bring a busload! We will of course be praying #thykingdomcome too.
The calendar today takes us to another sainted Archbishop of Canterbury, the second after the Conquest, Anselm monk of Bec. Wikipedia tells us that is famed as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God and of the satisfaction theory of atonement and he arguably launched the whole medieval scholastic movement. But he was not a head without a heart. His Collect goes like this:
Eternal God,who gave great gifts to your servant Anselm
as a pastor and teacher:
grant that we, like him, may desire you with our whole heart
and, so desiring, may seek you
and, seeking, may find you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The wording of the prayer reflects another side of Anselm: a man who also found words to express in prayer the desires of his heart and inner conversation of his mind in a way that has reminded me of Michel Quoist. So here is how Anselm begins, with a prayer, the Proslogion in which that famous argument is explored:
I am not trying, O Lord, to penetrate your loftiness,
for I cannot begin to match my understanding with it,
but I desire in some measure to understand your truth,
which my heart believes and loves.
For I do not seek to understand in order to believe,
but I believe in order to understand.
For this too I believe,
that ‘unless I believe
I shall not understand’.
So who on Earth was St Alphege (or Alphege) that we we remember today? Londoners will have a slight start here, since there are a handful of churches dedicated to him there, often pretty high up the candle like this one, St Alphage’s Burnt Oak. It was round the corner from where my father lived as a lad, and it was through its youth group that he came to faith and from which he went on to Mirfield in due course.
For the record the man himself would have spelled his name Ælfheah and was an anchorage (sort of hermit) whose holiness so impressed people that he was made Archbishop of Canterbury early in the eleventh century. It showed through when he was captured by the Vikings as a money-raiser and killed by them in 1012 when he refused to be ransomed for a massive sum that would have impoverished his people. He became a national hero, and it was to him that Thomas Becket was praying as he was martyred.
Carlos Frenk, Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics at Durham University in full flow with senior colleagues introducing science educators to the latest in cosmology- with great movies! All part of a C of E event to try and help lead the way in teaching science in a better and more holistic way.
Tom McLeish on his feet again at St John’s College Durham introducing a C of E sponsored consultation on how science education can be done better, with a fascinating mix of scientists, educationalists, church leaders and representatives from the charitable and business sectors too. Tom chairs the Royal Society Education Committee so this has serious connectivity with mainstream scientific leadership. And my sense is that increasingly that leadership shares my hope that we can promote education and investigation that re-integrates the branches of learning and life. Let’s go for it.
Isabella is remembered in our calendar today. She founded the deaconess order in the C of E, now largely lost in the lists of time, but as I remember her I also remember Jane Durell who died recently and was my colleague deaconess in my first incumbency and who was later one of the first female deacons and then priests. And I give thanks for these and all our steps, however small and painful, to be the church God calls us to be living out his love in and to the world.
And I didn’t know she was William Morris’s sister!