January is coming and going with blurry speed.
Some of my colleagues in the Church of Scotland asked the above question when I said that we were installing canons on the Isle of Cumbrae in the Clyde this weekend.
The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Cumbrae, was packed for the occasion. Given it is the smallest cathedral in the UK (maybe even wider) this is not TOO hard, but a wonderful occasion nonetheless. Goforchris caught the moment the bishop popped me into the dean's stall from her choir stall across the chancel. (photo from her Flickr photostream)
My colleague Nicki McNelly, Provost of Oban Cathedral, was also installed as a canon. Bishop Kevin did the deeds, Bishop Idris, lately Primus and of Glasgow and Galloway preached. Here are Nicki and I (photo thanks to Provost Kelvin Holdsworth), smiling away:
Question: do things like this matter? A cathedral chapter, robing canons in copes, processing in and out of the place. Does it make any difference?
Of course it does. Many of the congregations of Cowal and Bute came for the day, and spent time in fellowship with each other, members & friends of the cathedral and other visitors. Our diocese is small, our charges are relatively few. It would be all too easy to feel sorry for ourselves and feel that we were without a future.
But on a day like Saturday Argyll and The Isles is as much a diocese as any English, American, Nigerian or any other part of an Anglican Province. We install canons in our cathedrals and grasp the need for mission, purpose and direction. We have a cathedral chapter and a wider college of clergy that spends time together, that worships, prays and works together. We look for the signs of God's work in our context and try draw others into that relationship of love and grace.
Self confidence in a church is not to do with money, or numbers, or political power or any of these things. It is living in a tradition that feeds, with a history that roots us, and a desire to proclaim the gospel again and again, as long as we have breath.
So put those copes on, light those candles, and let's get stuck in!