Tag Archives: community

17 May: Little Flowers XXIII: How Saint Francis tamed the wild turtle-doves

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I T befell on a day that a certain young man caught many turtle-doves : and as he was carrying them for sale, Saint Francis, who had ever a tender pity for gentle creatures, met him, and looking on those turtle-doves with pitying eyes, said to the youth: “I pray thee give them me, that birds so gentle, unto which the Scripture likeneth chaste and humble and faithful souls, may not fall into the hands of cruel men that would kill them.” Forthwith, inspired of God, he gave them all to Saint Francis ; and he receiving them into his bosom, began to speak tenderly unto them:

“O my sisters, simple-minded turtle-doves, innocent and chaste, why have ye let yourselves be caught ? Now would I fain deliver you from death and make you nests, that ye may be fruitful and multiply, according to the commandments of your Creator.” And Saint Francis went and made nests for them all: and they abiding therein, began to lay their eggs and hatch them before the eyes of the brothers: and so tame were they, they dwelt with Saint Francis and all the other brothers as though they had been fowls that had always fed from their hands, and never did they go away until Saint Francis with his blessing gave them leave to go.

And to the young man who had given them to him, Saint Francis said: “My little son, thou wilt yet be a brother in this Order and do precious service unto Jesu Christ. And so it came to pass; for the said youth became a brother and lived in the Order in great sanctity,

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May 14: What is Theology Saying IX: We participate in the event the Apostles interpret.

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Jesus changed radically our understanding of life in a way that will never change again. The Apostles are witnesses in a way no one else can be. Their testimony would have little or no significance today if it were simply an account of a past event. What makes it significant is the fact that we are participants in the same event the apostles interpret.

This interpretation only has meaning to the extent we share in the same happening and reflect on it and give our own prophetic interpretation, making real here and now the conversation between God and ourselves. So, what did the apostles pass on?

First and before all else – it was the happening. How do you pass on a happening? They did it through life in community, inviting others to share the way they lived, which was how they lived with Jesus, a life energised and transformed through the experience of the Resurrection. They spoke, and what they said took on meaning for their hearers.

Out of this living experience of sharing life each generation gave its own interpretation in words. Clearly, over time, the interpretation changed quite a lot. It is tempting to ask, as a consequence, where did revelation end and theology, liturgy, catechesis etc. take over? This is the Church, the struggle to live a life of love and trust – celebrating this life in the liturgy, sharing explanations through theological reflections and catechesis – this is our participation in revelation, it is revelation. Revelation is not simply a record of what was revealed before; a record playing over and over again. Revelation is the living and intensely personal reality of our communion with God, when God communicates not some factual information but his own fully alive reality – hence the relevance of a contemplative heart.

If Christian life is such a part of revelation, does this mean that every word and explanation is just as good as any other – how do we know we are not fooling ourselves, and where does the dogmatic teaching of the Church and its moral guidelines fit?

Revelation is first of all a happening – but has to be expressed in words, which is how all human understanding comes into focus. We can’t live meaningfully without such expression. Words are a community product – my words have meaning because society has agreed a common meaning for them. When the Church wishes to share its experience, it has to agree on the way it explains itself; on its common understanding of the world, history and most especially, God. It must have a statement of its prophetic interpretation of events through which God reveals in the community – the events of Jesus’ life and the original formation of the Church. It must also have an interpretation of how God self-reveals in community – through sacraments and the life of charity.

Because salvation is a community happening, it is counter-productive to promote chaos and disruptions in our search for unity through understandings of life already achieved. Our continued sharing in revelation is guaranteed in the unity of the Church – requiring continuity in teaching and authoritative judgements. This presumes that continuity is guaranteed through living dialogue and that authority is exercised as a form of serving the life. Continuity would be pointless where it an empty shell formed from the past, now withered and gone. Revelation is real when it is alive, and it is alive when people are creatively involved.

Revelation did not end when the apostles died out; because it is not a collection of factual information about happenings beyond our experience, but the self-communicating of God. Revelation is not a finished product, it does not consist of unchanging truths, but of the living reality of God-with-us. Revelation was not closed with the death of the last apostle, rather was it opened in the way of a love affair which is not completed when two people marry, but marks a real beginning.

AMcC

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13 May: What is Theology saying? VIII: Our faith confesses Jesus as Lord

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Our faith confesses Jesus as Lord, uniquely Son of God, and therefore the definitive Word of God spoken in history. Which only makes sense if we understand that it is a fully human word that is spoken. He struggled to express in the Aramaic words of his culture and his own experience, his human understanding of the divine meaning of his own life and existence in the world. Likewise with typical Jewish gestures and signs, and in the way he shaped his life and responded to the way others shaped it.

When the Apostles began passing on his message, they didn’t begin by reporting what he said. They first mention their own Easter experience, their experience of the Resurrection. What they saw was his way of meeting death and bursting its bonds. For them, the meaning of Jesus was something that could not be contained entirely in words; and Revelation could not be entirely communicated in words.

What was this Revelation? It was first and foremost the full experience of his presence, his companionship and friendship giving meaning to their own lives. Only secondarily, and within the embrace of friendship, did they receive explanations in which Jesus gave his own prophetic interpretation of why he was present with them. They received his words through living with him and living as he lived. Only by doing this did they come to reflect on what he said, and because of this proclaimed the reality in their own words; a further prophetic interpretation – extending the presence of Christ further into the world.

We have the classic collection of these words – the New Testament. We also have a collection of prophetic interpretations of what the apostolic community was like passed on to us by tradition; consisting of liturgical and catechetical formulae of all kinds [e.g. the Creeds]. These testimonies are more elusive because they have been worked out and refined through the centuries. This asks an important question about Revelation. If a text or prayer is written after the time of the apostles, does this make it less sacred or less revealed? Did Revelation stop when the last apostle died? Obviously, the interpretation of the apostles is special, indeed unique, simply through their personal presence at the heart of the Christian event.

If Jesus is the Revelation of God because of the conversation we now have with God – which he achieved during his life as it unfolded, and because of the way he met and overcame death, then those who walked with him had an experience definitive for all time. He changed radically our understanding of life in a way that will never change again. The Apostles are witnesses in a way no one else can be.

AMcC

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A Speaker on Israel and Palestine in Canterbury

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Jeff Halper at St Paul’s Church, 7:30pm Monday 21st May

Richard Llewellin, former Bishop of Dover, writes:

A very remarkable Israeli Jew, called Jeff Halper, is coming to speak in Canterbury during a visit to the UK. 

Having watched the demolition of a Palestinian home for what he considered no good reason, he started the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions.  This organisation has rebuilt countless numbers of Palestinian homes demolished by the Israeli authorities (some of which have been then demolished for a second, or even a third, time!). 

Jeff Halper is larger-than-life, an excellent speaker, and has very good things to say about the future of Israel and Palestine.  He is speaking at St Paul’s Church, Canterbury, on Monday, 21 May at 7:30 PM, and you will not be disappointed at his talk if you can manage to come and listen to him.’

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7 May: What is theology saying today? II: Earthquakes and thunderbolts.

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Before we understood what caused thunder, and earthquakes we were inclined to see God’s presence – as if God in anger sent thunderbolts; and could switch-on rain or sunshine. To understand the laws governing atmospheric conditions does not mean losing faith in God’s providence, but needs to express it differently. Just so, a more traditional believer might think we are becoming godless because we no longer make the sign of the cross when there is lightning, or say god-willing when speaking of future plans. In fact there might well be truer understanding and greater faith than before.

Newman’s criteria, discussed yesterday, are difficult to apply, but others have worked on them since he wrote. He, himself, showed insight gleaned from his own knowledge of the history of ideas within Christianity – pointing out that in the past, at the time of the great heresies, faith always emerged again from deep within the heart of the Christian community, who were not acquainted with theological subtleties.

Karl Rahner, an Austrian Jesuit, began with the fact that we know now what it was in the past that led to present orthodox teaching of the Church. Whatever development was needed to bring us to where we are now, is a lawful development and very likely to be necessary again. He takes the development of doctrine we can see within the New Testament as the model of what development of doctrine should be; because the New Testament is given to us to show what Christian life is and should be. The development is more than a question of logic; the Church teaches the same doctrine, but continues to make explicit what is implicit.

An example: Peter preached God raised Jesus from the dead. What is implicit is that Jesus died, which the Creed makes explicit: was crucified, died and was buried…

AMcC

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5 May: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XXII: Christ appeared in the midst of them

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SAINT FRANCIS and his companions, in the beginning of the Order, being gathered together to speak of Christ, in fervour of spirit he bade one of them open his mouth in the name of God, and speak of God whate’er the Holy Spirit might inspire in him.

When the brother had done his bidding and spoken marvellous things of God, Saint Francis laid silence upon him, and bade another brother do likewise.

He yielding obedience, and discoursing subtly of God, Saint Francis in like manner laid silence upon him, and bade a third discourse of God, the which in like manner began to speak so deeply of the secret things of God, that Saint Francis knew of a surety that, even as the other twain, he spake by the Holy Spirit.

And this likewise was set forth by example and a clear sign; for while they thus were speaking, there appeared the blessed Christ in the midst of them in form and fashion of a youth most fair, and blessed them all, and filled them with such grace and sweetness, that they all were rapt away out of themselves, and lay as though dead, taking no heed of aught of this world.  Then returning to himself again, Saint Francis said unto them: brothers most dear, give thanks to God, who hath willed, by the mouths of the simple, to reveal the treasures of heavenly wisdom; since God it is that openeth the mouth of the dumb, and maketh the tongues of the simple to speak words exceeding wise.”

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Seventy years ago today: May 1, 1948

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Mary Mother from Hales Place Jesuit Chapel, Canterbury

Seventy years ago today, Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical letter Auspicia Quedam. He was writing to ask people to ask Mary’s prayers for peace in the Holy Land. We begin with his reference to the similar call to prayer he made during the Second World War.

6. It was comforting for Us in past years to appeal earnestly to all – especially to the young so dear to us – to crowd around the altar of the great Mother of God during the month of May imploring the end of a cruel war; so now, similarly today, by means of this encyclical letter, We invite you not to cease from this pious practice and further to prayers add resolutions for Christian renewal and salutary works of penance.

7. Above all, speak to the Virgin Mother of God and our most tender Mother words of most heartfelt thanks for having obtained, through her powerful intercession, the long desired termination of that great world conflagration, and also for so many other graces obtained from the Most High.

8. At the same time, implore her, with renewed prayers, that at long last there may shine forth, as a gift from Heaven, mutual, fraternal and complete peace among all nations and the longed for harmony among all social classes.

Let there be an end to dissensions that redound to no one’s advantage.
Let there be a reconciliation of disputes that often sow the seeds of further misfortunes.
Let international relations, public and private, be fittingly strengthened.
Let religion, the foster mother of all virtues, enjoy the liberty to which she is entitled.
And let men set about their peaceful work of abundant production for the common welfare – with justice their guide and charity their motive.

Not all of us feel comfortable with praying to or with the saints, and Pius’s language does not fall naturally on every ear. But we can all pray for Peace, especially in the Holy Land.

MMB

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27 April: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XVIII: the Riches of Poverty 1.

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THE wonderful servant and follower of Christ, to wit Saint Francis, to the end that he might in all things conform himself perfectly unto Christ, who, as the Gospel saith, sent his disciples forth by two and two unto all the cities and places where He was himself purposing to go; seeing that after the pattern of Christ he had gathered together twelve companions, sent them forth by two and two to preach throughout the world.

And to give them an ensample of true obedience, he was himself the first to go, after the pattern of Christ who began to do before he taught. Wherefore having allotted to his companions the other parts of the world, he with Brother Masseo as his companion took the road that led to the land of France.

And coming one day to a town sore hungered, they went, according to the rule, begging their bread for the love of God; and Saint F rancis went by one street, and Brother Masseo by another. But because Saint Francis was mean to look upon and small of stature, and was deemed thereby a vile beggar by whoso knew him not, he got by his begging naught save a few mouthfuls and scraps of dry bread: but to Brother Masseo, in that he was tall and fair of form, were given good pieces, large and in plenty, and of fresh bread. When that they had done their begging, they met together to eat in a place without the city, where was a fair fountain and, hard by, a fine, broad stone ; upon the which each set the alms that he had begged.

And Saint Francis, seeing that Brother Masseo’s pieces of bread were more and finer and larger than his own, rejoiced with great joy, and said: “ O Brother Masseo, we are not worthy of such vast treasure ”: and when he repeated many times these self-same words, Brother Masseo made answer:
« Father, how can one speak of treasure where is such poverty and lack of all things whereof there is need ? Here is nor cloth, nor knife, nor plate, nor porringer, nor house, nor table, nor man-servant, nor maid-servant.”

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The Latest News from L’Arche at Asha Vani in India.

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Here is more news from the L’Arche Community called Asha Vani in India.

Tension is Good?

Jean Vanier said, “Communities need tensions if they are to grow and deepen. …Every tension, every crisis can become a source of new life if we approach it wisely, or it can bring death and division.” At Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar we have moments of grace and moments of challenge. I n the midst of tension, it is easy to feel sad, lonely, or angry (or all three). We must learn how to recognize and be present to these feelings in a healthy way. If we do not, they will begin to take joy and love from our own lives and the lives of those around us. In communities like Asha Niketan, this can be dangerous. We must use our challenges to help us practice patience, understanding, and communication. We must remember: every challenge creates an opportunity for growth; every challenge helps us to see the truth; and every challenge invites us to lean deeper into God’s love.

Bypass Update

As many of you know, we have been attempting to change the alignment of the Nandhi-Chengottukavu Bypass Road. Thanks to many efforts, a new alignment has been released that effects our community with less drastic results. We will lose land and a few older buildings ; however, we will be able to remain functioning as a community. Still, there are many persons

protesting the bypass completely. We wait to see what comes of these protests.

Feet Washing

Every year our community holds a feet washing ceremony, an important tradition upheld by L’Arche communities all over the world. This ceremony is from theChristian tradition, and imitates the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet on Holy Thursday. It is incredibly symbolic to Asha

Niketan ’s values of justice and equality. As we wash each other ’s feet, we are reminded that God created us to be equals, and to help one another as friends.

40 Year Celebration

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who supported and attended our 40th Anniversary Celebration on January 27th! Important messages, dance performances, musical performances, and an intentional drama made for a celebratory event. Thank you to everyone in the community for their the hard work and commitment. We recognize that the

event was not perfect, of course, but we would like to express our apologies for areas that were not considered well. Yet, the celebration aside, we are thankful to have lived a vibrant forty years of community life. Much has changed over the years, and more change is surely to come, yet our mission will remain the same : to be a sign of hope in the world that peace is possible. We will continue to be “home of hope” where people with and without intellectual disabilities can realize and practice theirgifts. And with this, we look forward to the next full and fantastic forty years to come.

Thikkodi Sports Day

On December 3rd, the community made its way to Thikkodi Beach for some friendly competition to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It was a long day full of sun, sweat, sand, and fun! Community members participated in events such as races, jumping competitions, and musical chairs. Each competition brought laughter and joy, leaving everyone feeling like a winner. Check out a short video on our YouTube channel!

Christmas and New Years

The community celebrated vibrant and cheerful Christmas and New Years celebrations.

With Christmas day came a full program which included family, friends, songs, prayer, a drama, dancing, gifts, and, of course, food. It was quite the day! New Years was a bit more relaxed with a smaller celebration between residential members on the evening of December 31st.

On Januar y 19 th we lost one of our beloved community members, Pajeesh. He shared life with us for over 18 years, and he will remain present in our hearts for years to come. His passing left us all fondly reflecting on moments, gifts, and lessons shared from his friendship. Prajeesh’s presence is deeply missed, but we know he has been welcomed into an infinitely joyful and loving community above.

Rest In Peace, Prajeesh

Happy Welcome

Over the past few months, we have said both, “Farewell” and “Welcome” to a number of community members. To those who have left the community, we wish you peace and success in the next step of your journey.

As for our newcomers, we wish you a warm and happy welcome! Aswanth, Ragesh, and Muhammad Salmin have been welcomed as core members in our day programmes. It has been exciting to see them begin to find their place, and offer their gifts. Vishnu has been welcomed as a residential core member in Deepalayam house, where he has brought a lively and playful spirit. Additionally, we have embraced two new assistants and one volunteer. Baskar has become an assistant in Prabalayam house, where he has shown a strong work ethic, as well as aptitude for fun and friendship. Felna has become an assistant in Anandalayam house, where she has brought a positive, youthful, and patient presence to the quiet home. And lastly, we have welcomed P raveena for a short term volunteer position, and she has been a joyful, confident, and helpful presence.

It is a joy to grow alongside these newcomers, and witness their gifts being discovered and shared with our community.

Community Founder Visit

In December we were graced with a visit from Chris Sadler the community’s founder! Her presence was inspiring and eye-opening. She has a beautiful connection with many community members, and, having been involved from the community’s beginning, she offers a unique perspective on our way of life. Thanks to her visit, we were able to share in some special moments and fun activities, and also open our eyes to areas where we are in need of adjustment and growth. We are so thankful for her inspiring storytelling, constructive suggestions, gentle encouragements, and, of course, her lovely laughter!

It was so hard to say goodbye. We wish her nothing but peace, joy, and presence for all her days.

(Note : Listen to her message to the community on our YouTube page, or read the transcription below)

Cinema Outing

I n February we took a group of over 60 community members out for lunch, a small program, and a movie. Needless to say, it was quite the outing! A ll were happy to share some time together outside the community grounds, and we even managed to grab the attention of the local news! How could we not with such a vibrant group ?

National Assembly 2017-2018

In January, representatives from Asha Niketan communitiesall over India came together for a week of formation and meetings at the annual National Assembly held this year in Calicut. L’Arche International Co-Leader, Stephan Posner, his wife, Yaël Posner, and L’Arche Asia Delegate, Tim Kearney, were also present. Yaël and our own international volunteer, Parker, headed the formation for the Core Member group throughout the week. Parker said, “This was a very special opportunity. We were from all over the world, and, despite our differences, we were able to foster legitimate relationships through creating art, taking walks, singing, dancing, eating, praying, and simply sitting together. I think we all learned a lot. ” There certainly was a lot of relationship building , learning, and sitting together for everyone throughout the week. Thank you to our leaders and the staff at SRC Christ Hall who worked hard to make it a success !

L’Arche International Co-Leader Visit

With the National Assembly being held so close to home, this means we were lucky enough to receive a visit from one of the L’Arche International Leaders, Stephan, and his wife, Yaël. They stayed with us for two nights and shared some special moments with our community. One evening, Stephan gave us some words of encouragement. He looked at Lancy, our eldest community member, and said, “This man is changing the world.” He was reminding us that we change the world one person at a time by building real mutual relationships with one another. Within these relationships we experience a personal change that opens our hearts and minds to greater understanding — hopefully one of greater gentleness, justice, and love. This change then spreads out into the world as we live out our lives with this new vision and energy. Needless to say, their visit was a very memorable experience for each

one of us !

National Leader Visit

We were happy to welcome Rajeevan at the beginning of March for his annual ivsit to our community. He held meetings with all the members of the community over the course of a few days. P rasannan, a core member from Prahbalayam House, talked with excitement for many days leading up to his meeting with Rajeevan. And although not many of us can match Prasannan’s excitement for meetings, meetings with Rajeevan are never dreaded because of the sincere concern, wise encouragement, and genuine conversation he always shares. We are thankful to have had him visit, and we are thankful to have him as our National Leader.

Tour Programmes

In March we went on two tours. One group went to Bangalore for three days, where they enjoyed a stay with the Asha Niketan Bangalore community. During their stay, they visited Lalbagh Park , the local zoo and safari, the local markets, and Infant Jesus Shrine. We cannot thank those at AN Bangalore enough for their very generous welcome and hospitality. Later, an additional group enjoyed a single day tour relaxing on a local houseboat. It was a full day of time shared togetherwith scenic views and a cool breeze off the water. Thank you to all who organized these successful and joyful tours!

A Message From Our Founder, Chr is Sadler

Greetings to you all.

Some people are kind enough to honor me with the name of Founder of Asha Niketan in Nandi Bazar, but this is not quite true. God is the foundation of all our lives. And there are many people behind me whom I would like to remember: Mr. Premanand who gave us the land, Gabriel who really helped to develop Asha Niketan in India, and Mr. Jayaprekash who was very helpful to me when I arrived in Calicut. And also Jean Vanier who founded L’Arche, and was a great inspiration to all of us.

Beside me are Subbaiyan, Gnanam, and Kanaran, and Haneefa and Unni, and also Mithran, Viswanthan, Lancy Ettan, and Remesh. I would like to say a few things, especially in honor of these four people with whom I have shared so many years.Viswanthan, who was the first of our founders to leave us from this earth, came from the mental hospital, came from a place of great degradation, and he amazingly brought to me and to many a spirit of resilience, cou rage, and joy. And Mithran, who came to us from Payyoli, and who has among many other things taught me to face my own fears. And Remesh, who struggled with inner voices and a whole history of bullying and rejection, but who taught me a lot about the funny side of life. And also how to keep dreaming and hoping . And I also want to remember Lancy Ettan whose gentleness has transformed many of us, and changed us into people who learn to listen to one another and care in the most gentle way, and then begin to treat ourselves and others with the same gentleness.

So these are the people I remember beside me as we started this community.

And now I want to remember and give thanks for all those who are in front of us. That is you. Each one of you is important. Each one of you matters. Each one of you has something unique to bring to our world. More than ever our world needs respect and healing . We need peace and joy, and the welcome of our differences. Our world needs us to be the best that we

can be.

Once Viswanthan was asked by a visitor, “To which God do you pray here?” And Viswanthan, in his inimitable capacity to be profound, said, “I do not know which God, all I know is that we pray in the light.” And a nother time he sang with h is whole heart, “Oh God, Oh God, I am here because of your love.” May our hope, our “asha,” be always

in light and in love. That’s it.

+91 49626 91620

ashacltnandi@gmail.com

Community Leader Noelia : noegrifell@hotmail.com

Chairman Dr. Sreedharan : drsridar@yahoo.co. in

ashaniketancalicutnandhibazar.org

@ashaniketannandibazar

Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar

Thank you for reading!

Want to Help?

Our community is always open to donations. At the moment we are looking for someone to donate some wooden furniture in both of our male residential homes. We have a number of

plastic chairs that are unable to withstand the daily use from community members. If you have furniture you would like to donate, or would like to sponsor new furniture, please contact our office by phone or email !

Additionally, all are excited for the coming Vishu holiday. If you arefeeling generous and would like to donate a Vishu gift to community members, we would be very excited to

accept! Core members are always in need of items such as clothing, soap, and other daily amenities. That said, all at Asha Niketan Nandi Bazar wish you a very joyful V ishu !

 

 

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25 April: A wonderful coming together at St. Mildred’s Church on Rogation Sunday

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The following extract is taken from the Newsletter of the Canterbury Society of Friends, describing events last year:

I had been asked to give a talk in the sermon spot – and from the pulpit, on the subject of L’Arche and Rogation Sunday. Carol was also absent from Friends’ worship in order to attend the service and the subsequent beating of the bounds procession to the Glebe. Whilst I was figuring out how to climb the pulpit, David walked in and to the organ. One of the clergy remarked to me ‘oh good, it’s David, it’s exciting when he plays. It is also his birthday,  upon which David started playing ‘Happy Birthday’ and we all sang along.

The procession after the service was a delight – in warm sunshine and with nearly all the congregation coming down to beat the bounds and for the seed to be blessed in the Glebe.

It struck me that a lovely example of the interaction between our places of worship had occurred and community spirit was experienced at its best.

Roger Thorner

Editor’s note: I really enjoyed the tea and cake provided by the lovely L’ Arche community, their families and volunteers in their tranquil community garden after the service and on my birthday in glorious sunshine.

Blog editor’s note: there were Catholics as well as Anglicans and Quakers present at this celebration! (I’m tempted to say, spot the difference.)

MMB

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