I've just got back from the ordination of two bishops for our Diocese - Woolwich and Croydon. These services are a curious mixture of ancient and modern, legal and liturgical, state and church. The Royal Mandate was read by the Provincial Registrar, resplendent in robes and wig, instructing 'our loyal and trusty friend Rowan Douglas' to ordain Jonathan Clark and Michael Ipgrave bishops. Andrew Nunn, the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, made us laugh by reminiding us, on this day when we commemorate Thomas Cranmer, that Archbishop Cranmer and his wife used to get out of London for a break in peaceful Croydon where he had his summer palace. More seriously, he reminded us that the church must be 'inclusive' and 'affirming' - both words loaded with extra meaning in the Church of England these days.
We discovered that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who presided, has a pleasant light baritone voice as he intoned the prayers. This will probably be his last visit to Southwark before he moves to his next job in Cambridge. I'm sure he will be breathing a large sigh of relief to leave behind the problems and divisions that have beset the C of E and the wider Anglican communion during the last decade. Who would want his job?
Our two new bishops are appointed to be shepherds of God's flock, the church. We promised to pray for them and I will try to keep that promise. It's too easy to criticize those in authority over us, whether in the secular or the religious sphere. To be a bishop in the church is a noble calling and one that is only possible if God has called you. I may question what our bishops say and do, but I hope it is with respect and in a spirit of charity. May God bless Bishop Jonathan and Bishop Michael.