Good Shepherd Church, Ghala, Muscat: Holy Communion table

MartindaleHCtableSome time ago, I was asked by an Oman church member to explain the origin of the Holy Communion table, which was dedicated with the Church building back in 1989 when I was co-pastor there.  The table had been badly damaged during the flood caused by hurricane Gonu six years ago, and rescued (from being thrown out, on a visit by me!). Sadly, instead of being re-stained as I had intended, it was lacquered rather crudely.  It is now not an object of great beauty, but it is at least still in use sometimes in one of the halls attached to the church.

A previous post explains the story behind the clear-glass etched window in the church.  The etching and glass-cutting had been inspired by the clear-glass windows of Morton church in Somerset designed by Whistler, and incidentally Lawrence of Arabia’s body lies interred in its graveyard.  The theme of the Good Shepherd church window, was inspired by Revd Dr Ken Bailey.
martindale-stmartiI often visited the old church of St Martin’s, in Martindale, on the west side of Ullswater in the Lake District, U.K., when on summer camp with children, from the old school at Pooley Bridge, which had been run as a youth centre by the Church Pastoral Aid Society.  The church has a holy table with the date A.D.1670 inscribed into it, with an attractive carved border round the outside of the table.  Together with the cross and candlesticks, I had these copied from the photograph above, but with the date of AD 1989 inscribed in Arabic!  Bishop John, of the diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf dedicated the church and sanctuary furniture a few weeks before I returned to the U.K.martindale-stmartin2

Keeping on keeping on – with the risen Christ.

My picture from the Garden tomb, outside old Jerusalem.

My picture from the Garden Tomb just outside old Jerusalem, looking towards the rock-face like a human skull (eye sockets and nose, bottom right of picture).

Back from Oman to London two weeks before Easter, and a busy time catching up, Sunday services (on Palm Sunday we welcomed back to Morden ex-curate Phil with Katrina Dykes) a Church council, a funeral, a Peace conference at the Morden Mosque, then Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and a march of witness, a wedding, a confirmation, then four Easter Day services.

A quieter bank holiday Monday? No hope of that, as Hilary had organised Adam and Rachel to come and help clear the rectory roof! The countdown is on, after 23 years, time to resign as rector, to move home and learn to live on a clergy pension!  But, I will be given a Public Preacher’s licence by the Bishop of Southwark, to:

a)  develop “Meetings for Better Understanding” between churches around Morden in South London, separately with Ahmadiyya and majority Muslim communities (with the help of others who share a similar concern).

b)  hopefully to bring to reality, the long-held dream of the Morden Park Playing Fields Community Trust sports project, aimed at community cohesion between all the otherwise disparate groups that now live in the parish and surrounding area. Enough cash has been raised to bring it up to planning permission, with some excellent work done by MTW consultants and KilburnNightingale architects. Then – a little matter of raising £4million to ‘make it happen’.

The author of a book just published “the British dream”, David Goodhart, accuses our London borough of Merton residents of an attitude of “polite apartheid.” He has not as yet talked to local churches, I hope soon to persuade him that some borough residents at least are doing something against that; resigning as rector will give me more time to focus on these two projects.

‘Majority Muslims’ – is what Ahmadiyyas call other Muslims; other Muslims say that Ahmadiyyas are not Muslim.  A college has recently moved into the area with aspirations to become a university, it has significant sponsorship from Pakistan, and comes with its own Church of Pakistan pastor on the staff. We also have a fast-growing ex-Gurkha community based around a big housing area for retired military. So life should be interesting!

Sunday 15th was St Lawrence annual meeting. The 22nd will be grandson Jack’s baptism. The 29th, the agm for the four team churches, then preaching at the mayor’s annual service. Hilary then goes to Geneva to help Jessica after the birth of (already named) Tobias. Maybe time for another blog then!