Wednesday 3 March 2010

Eating Without Jesus

Talking about bishops, the House of Lords and privilege, and Dave Walker's view of what bishops were doing whilst civil partnerships in church were being voted on, the Bishop of Lincoln used his own diocesan rag Crosslincs to describe his recent busy experience of eating. I reproduce it further below.

Meanwhile, the relevant reading is as follows (Bishops' Matthew 14:13–21):

14:13 Now when the Bishop heard this, he withdrew from ordinary life using a taxi to a privileged place to be with others. But when the crowds heard it in Crosslincs, they were elsewhere and disappointed. 14 When he went in the restaurants, each time he saw a small number of the great and good; and he related to them and saliva was readily produced. 15 Once when it was evening, two suffragan bishops came to him and they said to him, 'This is a deserted place, and the hour is what it is; we can send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and towns and buy food for themselves.' 16 The bishop said to them, 'What a good idea, I am busy.' 17 They replied, 'Bye. You seem to have plenty.' 18 And he said, 'See you later.' 19 Then the chefs came in with even more platefuls for the select company. Taking the concoction made from five thousand loaves and two thousand fish, they looked up to heaven, and thanked God for their privileges, and were served the beautiful meals by the workers, and ate amongst themselves. 20 And the few ate and were well filled; and they left quite a lot, which went into the restaurant bins: broken pieces and twelve baskets full. 21 And those who ate were five with no women or children.

Below is John Saxbee's own account from Crosslincs (Best way to get it and avoid fighting the awful Mortons Digital reading technology is to click on Save above and download as a .PDF and then read it from within something like PDF X-Change.):

Eating for Jesus John Saxbee Bishop of Lincoln

This is how a leading Churchman once described his life of lurching from one lunch or dinner to another in the course of his duties – he was eating for Jesus!

It was a bit like that for me during the recent meeting of General Synod in London.

Monday lunch: Lambeth Palace with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss how we might forward debates within the Church of England about human sexuality.

Monday dinner: Lambeth Palace during which I had to justify why I was a suitable person to be numbered among a select company of Nobody’s Friends.

This arcane body was formed to remember a man who habitually described himself as a nobody. When he died, his colleagues and acquaintances formed a sort of dining club called Nobody’s Friends and people nominated to join the club must make a self-deprecating speech justifying their claim to membership. This proved quite easy for me as I have a great deal to be self-deprecating about!

Tuesday lunch: Church House, Westminster, to Chair a lunch time Fringe Meeting for Synod members wanting to know more about a Board of Education Report on work with children and young people being debated later in the week.

Tuesday dinner: Shepherd’s Restaurant in Marsham Street with the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor to discuss his Christian witness through his work at the Museum and with the media. It was a joy and privilege to share on a one-to-one basis with such a gifted and generous Christian gentleman.

Wednesday lunch: House of Lords Dining Room with our Lincoln Diocesan General Synod representatives to thank them for their work on our behalf during this quinquennium of Synod Sessions. We toured the Houses of Parliament and heard Lord Winston deliver a brilliant speech in the House of Lords on the human genome project.

Wednesday dinner: Bau Bau Vietnamese Restaurant, Percy Street to meet with members of my Episcopal Cell Group – a group of five Bishops, we were formed in 1994 when we were Consecrated, and we have been meeting regularly ever since for prayer, study, mutual support and, of course, the occasional meal in exotic locations.

Thursday lunch: House of Lords Cafeteria with a former colleague from my Exeter days to discuss his future – and catch up on a bit of ecclesiastical gossip!

Thursday dinner: Mansion House with the Lord Mayor and Corporation of the City of London, who host the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England every other year. Seating is on the basis of length of time in Episcopal Orders. I found myself on the top table for the first time – and began to feel quite old!

Friday lunch: A British Rail sandwich … It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it.

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