Yesterday was a very special day at St James, King Street. After 8 years as Rector, Father Peter Kurti was farewelled. Despite my age, I have never before been in a parish for the departure of the Rector.
We had a combined service of Choral Eucharist and the church was packed as we will expect on Christmas Day but different because at Christmas we have many visitors while a lot of parishioners are away on vacation. I hope it will not be as hot at Christmas. The temperature in Sydney yesterday rose to 41'C (106'F) and it is still Spring. St James has a very high ceiling but no fans.
Fr Peter asked for donations to a village water scheme in the Philippines rather than a personal gift but he was still given a framed photo of himself on top of the church spire taken a few weeks ago (the copper of the spire is being replaced so it is surrounded by scaffolding). He is supposed to have announced that after 8 years as Rector he finally felt on top of the job. He was also presented with a copy of the cross which tops the spire made out of the old copper. This is traditional but whereas those given to previous rectors were made from the copper removed in 1890, this one was made from the copper removed this year.
The warden making the farewell speech referred to Fr Peter's habit of beginning each sermon with a recent news item but moving onto the gospel and how that was sometimes a worry as the Prime Minister is occasionally in the congregation. I am glad Kevin Rudd was not present yesterday as Fr Peter began with references to claims the Prime Minister has been less than open regarding the recent asylum seeker situation as a lead into the Gospel where Pilate asks about Truth.
The service ended with the parishioners accepting that Fr Peter has concluded his pastoral relationship and then he received a blessing from our assistant priest Fr John.
Fr Peter then removed his cope and laid it on the altar. I do not know if this is usual but I felt very emotional at the symbolism.
Fr John is now Acting Rector until a new Rector is appointed. This is where I am very bitter. We are supposed to be grateful that the bishop has allowed this. I admire Fr John immensely and he is a great asset to the parish. I have found him far more approachable than Fr Peter who is very reserved. Fr John would make a great Rector. However there is a problem in this 'holier than thou' diocese. Fr John's wife is divorced. Actually Bishop Forsythe has said he would otherwise have already been snapped up by one of the other Anglo-catholic parishes in the diocese as he would make an excellent Rector. I find the whole situation absurd.
We had great hymns of praise fitting the celebration of Christ the King.
'All hail the power of Jesus' name'
'The head that once was crowned with thorns'
'O worship the King all glorious above'
'Rejoice, the Lord is King'
However, despite my reservations about Choral Eucharist and the money the parish spends on a semi professional choir, I did enjoy the setting which was Mozart's Coronation Mass and have included the Agnus Dei.
I did not go to the farewell luncheon which followed but, rather than return home to a hot house, I took a ferry over to Manly. It was pleasant sitting on the deck of the ferry on the way over but I had to return on the inside and even next to a window it was still hot. There was no seabreeze at the beach either where it also reached 40'C and I had a lunch of calamari and chips. Even the airconditioning on the train home was struggling.
There were bushfires 9km to the north and 11 km south of me but none were threatening property. Fires much further west did threaten and one house was lost.
Finally today is much cooler with rain. It has been the hottest November on record but our conservative nitwit politicians deny climate change.
Even Dunedin is 29'C today but cooler tomorrow. I just wish I could sell my house and go.
Low Sunday: thoughts on locked doors
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