Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Crocodile In The Room

There are various versions of the legend of St George and the dragon, each one hinting at different origins. In one, the dragon is a (real) crocodile, which has made its nest at the spot where villagers go to draw water. In order to draw water safely, they offer – literally sacrifice – a sheep to the crocodile each day. When they run out of sheep, they offer their daughters, chosen by drawing lots. On the day George arrives it is the princess, the daughter of the local monarch, who has been chosen. Apparently the monarch cannot conceive another way of dealing with the crocodile. Even the privilege of being a princess cannot save the maiden.

Whatever lies behind the legend, this telling reminds us that women are so very often considered expendable by men. We might lament their sacrifice, but resign ourselves to it, for the greater good. Sadly, Here Be Dragons that still live and breathe and have their being, sat imperiously on the very place where we would draw life.

Any man, then, who would claim St George as patron, must demonstrate the worth of his claim by slaying such dragons. Not because women are damsels in distress who need to be rescued, but because those who feed the monster need to repent and believe.

On St George’s Day, here’s to the women among us. May we all be set free from fear, and from the injustice that comes from fear.

St George

Not-necessarily-connected reflections on St George’s Day, first posted on Facebook:

Today is St George’s Day, the national day of England. George was a young Middle-Eastern Christian who stood up to a local tyrant, symbolically represented as a dragon. He was first ‘adopted’ by English knights on the disastrous Crusades, and later embraced by the whole nation. True Englishness – as opposed to defensive or jingoistic nationalism - ought to recognise that our economic and foreign policies contribute to global injustice, and welcome those who seek asylum from the extreme consequences of that injustice. I am grateful to live in a City of Sanctuary, and to have Middle-Eastern Christian friends. Happy St George’s Day!

What dragon are you called upon to slay today, and with what will you slay it?

Anti-Englishness, on the basis of the past and present sins of the English people, is tiresome and ungodly. You might as well be anti the whole human race. As someone who has a sense of being called by God to England and the English, to love and serve this people; as someone who has an England-born wife and children, and whose ancestry takes in this as well as other lands; I choose to celebrate the good, and encourage others to do the same. Happy St Georges Day!

The reading for Morning Prayer on St George’s Day is Joshua 1:1-9. It makes for slightly uncomfortable reading, as it has been used to justify colonialism. But the heart of God’s instruction is to receive the whole world as gift, and to exercise spiritual authority through prayerful study of history, continually establishing justice, having courage in the face of challenges, and knowing that God is with us - not to vindicate us when we exercise authority in our name but as the one who gives us authority to live-out his loving will for all peoples and all of creation. Understood in this light, it expresses the vocation of all humanity; and the call of the people of God to model such a way of living in the midst of all wider societies. If that is daunting, hear Gods words: Do not be afraid; I am with you.

During a time of silent prayer for those suffering persecution and martyrdom for their faith in our world and particularly in the Middle East today; for our nation, and the competing stories of Englishness around which the General Election is being fought; and for ourselves, and the dragons we face; we lit candles - a tangible reminder that Jesus is the Light of the World, and calls us to be light in an at times dark world too.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Family

My family:

Back, left to right: Jo Dowsett (nee Marfell), David Dowsett, Colin Lennox, Andrew Dowsett, Rachel Lennox (nee Dowsett).

Front, left to right: Elijah Dowsett, Noah Dowsett, Jamie Lennox, Dick Dowsett, Rose Dowsett, Rosie Lennox, Susannah Dowsett.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Birthday Girl

Our fabulous and fantastic Susannah shared her fourteenth birthday with Easter Sunday.


Christ is risen. Alleluia.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia.

An early start for some of us, as we joined with friends from St Timothy’s Lutheran church for a sunrise service on Roker beach.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Sunderland Minster : Service Of Healing And Wholeness

On Maundy Thursday all the clergy of the diocese gather at Durham Cathedral to renew our vows as bishops, priests, and deacons, at a Sung Eucharist where the oil for the anointing of the sick and dying, the oil for the signing with the cross at baptism, and the oil of chrism are blessed, before being decanted and carried back to our parishes.

This evening we used the oil for the anointing of the sick and dying in a service of Healing and Wholeness.

Sunderland Minster : A Labyrinth For Our Times