My one day in history
History Matters have organized the ‘biggest blog in history’ for today. The idea is that lots of UK residents write about their day and the collected electronic pages are stored somewhere in the British Library (on a computer I think) for future generations. This was my submission:
Tuesdays are now officially my worst day of the week in this new mode of living in which I find myself. As an ordinand in the Church of England training and studying in a Cambridge college, I usually find there is plenty of unscheduled time in my day to read, think and prepare… let alone see my wife and two young children. Tuesdays are different. Tuesdays are chockablock with activity.
I was running late when I got up this morning but as usual I cycled into college, swerving in and out of the cars who would obviously rather that I was not there. I made it in time for Morning Prayer at 8.15 (a compulsory part of every weekday for me as a trainee vicar) and managed to snatch a mug of tea and slice of toast in our staircase kitchen afterwards.
All morning and all afternoon on a Tuesday I have lectures. A very helpful hour on preaching and how to prepare a sermon was followed by two hours of church history with the afternoon dominated by the theology of mission. The church history was all about second and third century theologians and how even some of the most respected church fathers got their doctrines badly wrong at times. The mission lectures talked about how the doctrine of the Trinity affects mission and again, we heard from the Christian fathers as they tried to explain the unexplainable. It left me wondering how any vicar manages a sermon on the Trinity without bordering on heresy.
One of the most interesting points of my day was a lunchtime Q&A with the Principal. Later this year, some young Islamic scholars from Al-Azhar University in Cairo are visiting Ridley for a month on a cultural exchange. It is a fantastic opportunity about which I am really excited. However, it also raises many questions and issues. The Principal kindly spent some time with us allowing us to ask our questions.
The timing is extraordinary given the media frenzy over Islamic extremism and more recently whether wearing of ‘the veil’ is reasonable in UK society. The hysteria is such that the papers even ran a story about a Muslim taxi driver who refused to carry a guide-dog in his cab. In a culture and atmosphere of mistrust and fear where people are even starting to talk about ‘voluntary apartheid‘, I am hoping their visit will be a beacon of grace, love and genuine listening across cultures and faiths at a time when so much of the rhetoric is anything but.
My busy day just carried on relentlessly into the evening. Federation worship with the other theological colleges of Cambridge, a book sale for students and a late night supper and kitchen duties meant that I didn’t get home until very late in the evening to my long-suffering wife. If this is a taste of my life to come, who says vicars only work one day a week?