Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Edinburgh


A Scotland supporter obligingly takes a pic for some Wales fans beside the statue of Greyfriars Bobby a few hours before the Welsh walloped the Scots at Murrayfield.

What can I say about Edinburgh, other than that if I was ten years younger and/or a little less anchored where I am I would move there like a shot. The weather was not much while I was there and I know from past experience and present observation that the parking wardens are feral, but I simply love this majestic, gray, quirky, noble, self assured, cultured, elegant, ancient and trendy city. It is a little disconcerting that the street names are all the ones I know from back home and that they run off each other in quite a different order than I am used to. It is disconcerting also that despite the disparity in age and size there is something of the feel of Dunedin about Edinburgh. It is not just that we colonials have aped Edinburgh in trivial details of naming and aesthetics, but rather that somehow the values which inform this great city, also informed those who moved from Scotland to Otago all those years ago.

I was hosted during my stay by Bishop Brian Smith and his wife Lissa. On Saturday morning Brian gave me a brief tour, and his love of the city and his deep knowledge of it were conveyed with elegance, eloquence and understated humor. Every five minutes we stopped our stroll so he could point out some detail of architecture or geography or history that whetted my appetite for further exploration. I was taken to the city chambers and shown the Dunedin room, lined with rimu and hung with a couple of superb taiaha, a very old waka hoe and several paintings of my little city.

Later in the day Anne Pankhurst drove me to the Borders where I looked at some churches in rural towns who were coping pretty well with the problems faced by many of our our own congregations. On Sunday I preached in the large, late Victorian cathedral which was pleasingly full. I had conversations with a few of the urban Clergy and went to a quite innovative contemplative service in St. Peter's. Edinburgh Diocese is growing. There are a few charismatic/evangelical congregations doing very nicely indeed but the growth is not confined to them. There us vigor, innovation and modest but steady numerical growth in ordinary suburban congregations, in rural churches and in the inner city. I was not there long enough to make any sort of analysis of this, but there were a couple of impressions I took away with me. One was the quality of leadership exercised by the clergy I met. Another was the willingness, in some places at least, to experiment and to make some quite bold innovations. Yet another was the depth of theological understanding I encountered amongst the (admittedly small number of) clergy and lay leaders that I met. I guess that the positive and attractive culture of the Diocese had a lot to do with the gentle, encouraging but shrewd pastoring of Bishop Brian.

I left on Monday with regret. I would have liked to stay longer; much longer: I was aware that there were several parishes vacant in the diocese and that this is a diocese that would be interesting, challenging and enjoyable to be part of. Perhaps though, my reason for being there was not to reverse the century old pattern of migration, but to be shown yet one more area where we in the south might profitably ape our big sister in the North.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


5 comments:

Elaine Dent said...

Maybe someday a sabbatical swap between the two cities would be in order.

Anonymous said...

"It is a little disconcerting that the street names are all the ones I know from back home and that they run off each other in quite a different order than I am used to."

Yes - my strange experience of deja vu on my first visit to Edinburgh many years ago. But please note: it's Cor-STOR-phine in Auld Reekie!

Brian (ex-Dunedin)

Anonymous said...

Very disturbing news from Christchurch. Have you returned home yet?

Brian

Anonymous said...

I envy those blessed to live in either city. Someday I hope to visit N.Z.. I've been to Edinburgh and agree with you that it is also a lovely place, with a rich Reformation history. God bless your ministry of Word and Sacrament. Matt. 6:33

-- A Web site visitor from British North America

Elaine Dent said...

Praying for the people suffering, grieving, and bringing aid to Christchurch.