In 1973 I sassed an Archbishop - and got away with it.
At the end of the South West Ecumenical Conference in Bristol 1973 (see my prior blogs on this) I, as one of the few Bristol Diocese Theological Students who owned a car, was instructed to drive Russian Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom to Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station for his journey back to London.
In those Cold War days, Archbishop Bloom was the British face of the Russian Orthodox Church. His official title was Metropolitan and Administrator of the British Diocese.
As well as his duties as the Bishop for Russian Orthodox Churches in Great Britain, he was much sought out as a Christian "guru" on contemplative and meditative prayer; respected by Anglicans and Protestants alike.
I drove him to the Railway Station, conscious of his greatness.
We strode up and down the railway platform as we waited for his train.
We passed a young man, a hippie, dressed in all the colours of the rainbow, as he sat on the ground.
"Goodness gracious" said the Archbishop, "whatever does he think he looks like?
So here I was with Archbishop Bloom in all his street regalia.
I couldn't resist. "Well Archbishop" I said, "maybe he is looking at you and saying what ever does he think he looks like?"
Anthony Bloom let out a hearty laugh in his deep bass voice.
To see ourselves as others see us. I sassed the Archbishop and he liked it.
Then, as we waited for his train, we had a gentle and deep conversation about prayer.
Archbishop Bloom most likely forgot our conversation. I never did.