It was a late night last night, due in part to some technical difficulties in posting to this blog. Consequently, I played hooky from Mattins and Mass this morning, getting some much needed extra sleep. The day dawned bright and clear, providing a beautiful setting for a couple of local university graduation ceremonies that took place in the cathedral nave. I was surprised to find that some of the trees along the south side of the cathedral are beginning to blossom out. Nonetheless, even with the clear skies, it was rather cooler than it's been, and the next several days look to be miserable--upper 30s with rain.
The morning brought us yet another agenda-driven Bible study led by the same individual. The agenda this time had to do with "ministering" to the powerful, using the story of Nathan's confrontation of David as the springboard. After the break, the rest of the morning was spent with the Bishop of Harare (Zimbabwe), whose diocese is locked in a bizarre battle with his rogue predecessor, who seems to be a megalomaniac in cahoots with another of the same genre, President Robert Mugabe.
In the afternoon, we were addressed by, and interacted with, Canon John Rees, whose official title is Chief Registrar, but in effect he is the top legal counsel to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He talked about threads of continuity in the canon law of the various provinces of the communion. There are vast differences, to be sure, but also a great deal that is the same. Canon Rees is both a lawyer and a priest. It is certainly helpful to have someone in that sort of legal role also be theologically trained.
During the late afternoon down time I had an extended conversation with a bishop from Tanzania regarding the Anglican Covenant and the potential range of responses available to the Episcopal Church at this summer's General Convention. I then took a moderately long walk through the winding streets of the old city. It was "a capella" night at Evensong, with the responses, Psalms, canticles, and anthem all unaccompanied. The anthem was William Walton's devastatingly beautiful Set Me as a Seal. Happily, the organ did play for the hymn.
We were joined at dinner by the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Robert Willis. Both while we ate (as it happened, he and I were at the same table) and afterward, I enjoyed hearing him engagingly and winsomely give an account of the ministry of the cathedral--to the city, to the diocese, to the Church of England, to the worldwide communion, and, most of all, to the bishop whose seat it holds and whose church it is: Archbishop Rowan Williams. There are enormous differences between the British and American church environments, of course. Nonetheless, there is also much of what I heard that is worthy of emulation.