Back in Good Shepherd country

A week’s visit to my old ‘parish’ of Oman, to catch up with how things are.Good Shepherd lost sheep   Here, the Victorian print that was used to create the etched image cut into the clear glass of the main window in the church of the Good Shepherd.  I had been impressed by the clear glass windows of the church of Morton, Somerset, where the body of Lawrence of Arabia is buried, and persuaded the Oman church council of 1989 (by one vote!) to commission the window and made in Oman.

Dr Ken Bailey had inspired me with his teaching that for Christians in the first centuries, mosaics decorated house churches, of the Good Shepherd with nail-marks in his hands and feet carrying a sheep, to illustrate the cost of our salvation.  I remembered this picture and thought it appropriate for the (then) new church in Ghala, Muscat, where the real mountains of Oman could be seen through the window.

Good Shep window 1Despite much building in the area, and  – adjoining the church three more halls – the Bosch hall, the Zwemer Hall and the Bishop French Hall, I am delighted that the view through the glass remains unobstructed.  Of particular poignancy is the understanding of Omanis that in heaven we will not see the face of God – because of His holiness;  but the lost sheep clearly can.  “O that Ishmael might live before Thee” was Abraham’s prayer to God (Genesis 17:18), a verse that was adopted by the American Mission in Arabia as their motto, and which expresses the longing of those whose names are now associated with the Ghala church.

Good Shep window2Yesterday, a great sermon from Nehemiah Ch.8,  from Pastor Michael Peppin, underlining our need to deepen our prayer life our understanding of scripture, and to strive harder for unity.  Unity has always been hard to come by in and between the Oman churches.  How essential it is to prove the positive, uniting power of the Gospel in a land where – as my fellow blogger heads his blog  “The suppression of ideas and thought is a major sin, and we will never allow anyone to stifle freedom of thought.”  His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

Good Shep church