Malkhaz Songulashvili – Sleepless in Georgia – 3 – Back in Georgia

Three bishops ordained
Malkhaz and the other Georgian Baptist bishops

Our flight arrived at Tbilisi airport at 4 am on January 18th. I wanted to be there before Stephen and Roy arrived.  People in Tbilisi knew that I was arriving that morning but I kept it as a surprise that Ala was arriving with me as well. We were met at the airport by family and friends.  Our son Alex was particularly amazed to see his Mum coming into the arrivals hall. His eyes widened and his face went pale. The Tbilisi sky was crystal clear and stars were shining brightly. It was also freezing cold.

We went to our place, which is my parental home. The upper floor where our bedroom is had not been heated during the winter.  It is usual practice when you go to bed to undress but we could not do it; we had to put more clothes on before going to bed.  Even that did not help. We were too tired to think of hot water bottles. Ala and I hugged each other and tried to warm up. We never went to sleep – it was too cold. By the time we felt warmer it was time to get up for a meeting with the bishops.  We spend almost the entire day synchronizing and planning the details for the visit of the two different delegations, with two different agendas.   At the end of the day we had finalized both programmes, made numerous telephone calls and agreed arrangements.

“Now, about tomorrow’s programme!”, said Bishop Ilia.

“What about it?” asked Bishop Rusudan, whom we all tease endlessly for being the first female bishop of our Church. ‘The first woman bishop’ has almost become a natural part of her title.  When she is being introduced by other bishops she is always called “our woman bishop” as if it was not obvious that she is a woman. We do not say this is our ‘man’ bishop, do we?

“We have not decided anything about tomorrow’s feast, the Baptism of Jesus, the 19th of January,” said Ilia.

“I think you should preach, people have not heard you preaching for ages,” said Bishop Merab.

“Who will celebrate the eucharist?”, I asked them.

“You should!”, said Rusudan.

“How about the baptism? Who will baptise the people?” I asked, because on the feast of the Baptism of Jesus in our liturgy we have the baptism of the people and the renewal of our baptismal vows.

“You will,” said all three bishops, almost in unison.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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