ONE WAY STREETS AND SATNAV

The Right Reverend Dr Peter Robert Forster
40th Lord Bishop of Chester

100 YEARS AFTER ITS CONSECRATION by the 33rd Lord Bishop of Chester, The Right Reverend Francis John Jayne DD, St Michael & All Angels Bramhall welcomed the present Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, as President and Preacher at a Centenary Eucharist. A large assembly, many of whom hadn’t left last evening’s Celebration Dinner Dance at Adlington Hall until “carriages at midnight” were, nonetheless, perfectly turned out in time to assemble once again (some of them for breakfast in the parish hall) in our beautifully reordered and gloriously decorated parish church. Some of our contemporary angels are a dab hand in the kitchen, and others make floral decorations fit for cathedrals.

Bishop Peter had recently acquired a SatNav, he said, whilst wondering how Bishop Jayne had travelled from Chester to Bramhall 100 years ago. “Florence” the bishop’s SatNav (named after she of The Magic Roundabout who, bless her, never seemed to know quite which way she was going!) had largely been of help to him, though sometimes he really did know better than she did. Florence isn’t too good with one-way streets, apparently. Anyway, the point of some very apposite and amusing reflections about journeying was chiefly that patience is a virtue most necessary when we’re travelling somewhere. Patient waiting is sometimes required in order to be sure about where we’re going, and patience is required, too, in the travelling to get there. The same applies to anything we set out to achieve. Anything we hope for. Patience is required as we work for the day when “the Lion shall lie down with the Lamb”.

I’m left with the heartening thought that if we work hard at it over the coming 100 years we Christians might get better, with our bishop, at knowing where the “one way streets” and the “dead ends” are. Florence the SatNav, in company with many other would-be guides, can be of enormous help, without a shadow-of-a-doubt. But there are times when her – and their – assertiveness needs at least to be questioned! Edges of cliffs and the deep blue sea are images that spring readily to mind. And I’m reminded too, fresh from waving Bishop Peter off on his car journey back to Chester, and fresh from wondering how Bishop Jayne got here a century ago, of those earlier travellers “from the East” who fell down and did worship, silent and awestruck and patient … 2000 years ago. We’ve been celebrating 100 years for the whole of the past year. Now for a season wherein the noise might be stilled a little, that we might hear the angels sing.