June 13, 2011

It’s Monday the 13th, Internet access has been limited since we arrived in Oxford, and today we leave England for Paris. Oxford has been a great stop. I preached last night in the Keble College chapel, what a great experience! Learned so much about Oxford University and all the various colleges. Keble is the largest of the colleges and a beautiful place. The chapel is amazing, will post pictures soon.
We arrived Friday after a long flight that included 2 hours on the runway in Atlanta waiting on weather to clear up in Boston before connecting for an overnight flight to London. We took a bus to Oxford and were met by my friend, the chaplain at Keble, the Rev. Jenn Strawbridge. St. Patrick’s folks will remember Jenn as she lead several volunteer groups to Camp Coast Care from her previous job at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, VA, one of our main adopting churches after Katrina. It was so great to see Jenn again and reconnect with her. She is the first female chaplain in Keble’s history, and her appointment was not without its detractors.
On Saturday we did an open bus tour of Oxford – really fascinating. Had fish and chips at the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to hang out. Walked through Christ Church College with its beautiful cathedral and the dining hall where much of the first two Harry Potter films were made. Saturday the weather was beautiful, although a bit cool with some rain late.
Pentecost Sunday was another matter as it rained all day and was quite cool. Felt like England to us! I attended church with Jenn that morning at St. Mary Magdalene, a parish near the school. Very, very high church – it was a lovely service. The building is so pretty and quite old (old is a whole new perspective over here. As St. Patrick’s approaches her 50th anniversary next year, Mary Magdalene is the sight of a church for over 1000!).
Chapel Sunday night was at 5:30. The choir, composed of students of the college was amazing! They are installing a new pipe organ so we could not use the high altar but the service was really nice and the sermon well received. I think they even could understand most of what I had to say, without a translator! Dinner was in the dining hall where we sat with the Warden and his wife at the high table. It really was Harry Potter-ish! The dining hall at Keble is the longest in Oxford. No one eats until the Warden arrives and bangs a gavel, then once he begins to eat, the rest of us could. After a great meal and conversation, we stood as he said grace, and all the students stand until the Warden and guests walk out, then they can leave. Jennifer and I were fascinated.
I have to leave now for the train to London, then EuroStar to Paris. Much more later!

Rode the train to London from Oxford. When we got to the Eurostar station our reservations were not there! It was five am New York time, so by the time we reached our travel agent the train was gone and all other trains today were booked. Travel agent confirmed Eurostar messed up so we are on first class to Paris tomorrow and a free night in London hotel tonight. We will still spend five days in Paris and will shave one off our London return, no big deal.
Tomorrow dinner at Eiffel Tower!

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