Thursday 26th September, 2013


1.           Congratulations to The Revd Willie Shaw who was ordained to the priesthood this month.  The Revd Terry Harkin preached on the occasion, and his sermon is reprinted in recognition of a special day in the life of the Cathedral and in the life of a new priest (see page 8).

2. Congratulations also to The Revd John Chalmers on his appointment as a Chaplain to the Queen.  John many be better known to us as the former minister of Palmerston Place Church or to choristers in the 1990s as David’s and Ruth’s Dad.  The Scotsman carried a fine picture of John, resplendent in his new red cassock, standing beside his son John James (or JJ), resplendent in his military uniform, who was injured in Afghanistan whilst serving with the Royal Marines.

3. September saw the death of Audrey Reddish, our oldest Cathedral member, who did not quite make it to a century.  Married to an Anglican clergyman, Audrey served the church in many parishes.  When she could no longer come to the Cathedral, she received Holy Communion at home. We hold Audrey and her family in our prayers.  RIP.

4. Work is progressing at great pace on the north side of the Cathedral.  The medical centre building is currently ahead of schedule; work on refurbishing the Walpole Hall starts shortly; and it is now easy to visualise how excellent the new stonemasons’ workshop will be (complete with showers, appropriate dust extraction, and messing facilities).  The landscaping on the west side is nearing completion, and the Cathedral is to be honoured with a visit of HRH The Princess Royal this month during which she will meet key personnel and donors involved in the landscaping scheme.

Next month starts with the two great Christian festivals of All Saints (1 Nov) and All Souls (Monday 4 Nov (trans)).  I’m not really into artists’ etchings, but it is impossible to escape from them in Rembrandt’s house in Amsterdam.  I successfully managed to avoid the guided tour, but could not help overhearing the commentary about an etching Rembrandt had done of the Crucifixion.  Apparently the one etching comes in different – what are called – states, each numbered, until the artist is finally satisfied with the end result.  Early states of this etching of the Crucifixion had what you would expect: the Christ with the two thieves on either side, Roman soldiers, crowds watching, Mary and the odd disciple kneeling at the foot of the Cross.  The etching was bustling with activity and detail and light.  In the 7th and final version the activity to left and right had gone, subsumed into darkness, so your eye was forced to look to the Christ and him alone.  All possible distractions had been removed, your eye had nowhere to go other than looking to the cruciform figure.  I think the saints do that.  I think their lives do that, pointing only to him.  Earlier states may bristle with action and distraction, but the final state of the saint is one of enabling us to see the Christ and the Christ alone.  We have much to learn from the saints this coming All Saints-tide.

The Revd Canon Peter Allen was ordained priest in Coventry Cathedral in 1963.  50 years of priestly ministry in church, school and cathedral, of helping others see the Christ and Christ alone is worthy of recognition and celebration.  On Sunday 13 October at 3.30pm Choral Evensong in the Cathedral will indeed recognise and celebrate Peter’s 50 years as a priest: join us and him that day as we give thanks.