by Michael Jagessar
Over the last week I have had to cancel some of my moderatorial appointments because of family bereavement in the USA and Guyana. It has been a tough few weeks for my family. I did manage to attend the Queen’s Garden Party which my recently deceased mother, at heart a royalist, would have been very delighted to hear about.
I must confess that it was with much hesitation that Leonora and I decided to attend. I am glad we did. Many were expecting us to attend, having checked out the moderators’ diary! It was a wholly new experience for me though I have met Her Majesty as school-boy in May 1963 when Guyana became independent. Surreal may not be appropriate to describe the experience but it felt that way. We were in a massive gathering of total strangers, with formality and protocol down to the detail. Ironically the recognisable faces were the Royals and some of the clergy in their fancy dress! I now know why I very much appreciate uniforms: for these opened up conversation points and though people were total strangers it was easy to recognise their “work domain”. This is where a clergy collar may become a great conversational tool!
The minimalist servings of cakes and sandwich were delicious. My chocolate cake with the royal emblem on top was caught in limbo upon the arrival of Her Majesty and as the band struck up “God save the Queen” and we were all called (literally frozen) to “attention”. I was praying that God would save my chocolate cake from melting as it was a gloriously sunny day. Sun tends to follow me around!
My contribution to these blogs is drawing to an end. Reading back some of these underscore a breadth of exciting things in our life together, as well as the delight and privilege I have had visiting congregations and representing the United Reformed Church in a variety of ways. I think I can say that my knowledge of our church has grown a bit.
One other thought which I wish to share is that of the need for us to work on holding opposing ideas together, approaching the future with hope and remembering to draw on and tell stories. The moment we do not have a story to tell, we become lost. In terms of holding opposing ideas together, to avoid trenchant polarisations, we need to move away from either/or thinking (by opposition) and give more agency to the minor word “and” (learning from Martin Buber) that can help us to learn to think, hold and live with opposing ideas together. In crossing theological and cultural borders we would be better off when our thinking and acting is largely informed by “and”.
And then, who knows where the Spirit will lead us…