This coming Sunday at 3pm we will be welcoming Canon Andrew Zihni as the 39th Dean of Gloucester. The eagle-eyed will notice that he comes as the Dean of Gloucester – his ministry while rooted in the life of the Cathedral is not restricted to it! As the Dean, he is the senior priest of the Diocese and shares with Bishop Rachel, with me and her whole staff in the leadership and care we together seek to offer to the whole Diocese.
Many of us will be able to be present for this service but I hope all of us in every community of the Diocese will be holding Andrew in our prayers this Sunday morning as we pray for and give thanks for the life of our Cathedral.
Much of the time of course we take that life for granted. The Cathedral is the place we come to for great occasions, ordinations and the annual Chrism Eucharist. It is the setting for great, moments of celebration and lament. It is the place from across the Diocese where we meet and remember that we are called together as the whole Church, the Body of Christ. If we think of it all, we simple think it has always been there – and it has for at least the last thousand years or so.
Yet its organisation and running is a complex and demanding task, and its health is an essential part of our health as a whole within the Diocese. That health is marked by a number of vital signs. The first is the rhythm of prayer that is the lifeblood of the Cathedral and the Church. The Dean and Canons are charged to maintain this, and the days are marked by morning and evening prayer and the Eucharist. Using the Diocesan Cycle of prayer each day, different people and places of the Diocese are held here before God. The Cathedral is called to be an exemplar in worship in liturgy and music, inviting us all in our own places and contexts not to imitate or pretend to be what we are not, but to be the best of what we can be. Then the Cathedral is a place of welcome and hospitality that encompasses the diversity of the Church where together we can seek truth and be shaped more authentically as disciples of Jesus Christ. Looking out to the wider community, confident in that calling in Christ, the Cathedral is further a place to which all are invited, in which we may share our common humanity and explore who we are called to be as individuals and as a community shaped by the values of the Kingdom.
So please do pray for Andrew, and all who enable the life of our Cathedral this Sunday, as a new chapter begins in its life and as you pray, please pause for a moment to give thanks for and celebrate its part in the life of our Church and wider community.