Tag Archives: welcome

21 November: Peaceful tourists

After an arduous journey Doctor Johnson has arrived at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. He is made welcome by Lady Macleod, and writes:

Here therefore we settled, and did not spoil the present hour with thoughts of departure.

Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, Samuel Johnson

Johnson, of course, was not a travelling missionary, but a tourist. However, I’m reminded of Jesus’ word to the 72 disciples as he sent them out:

Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house.

Luke 10:7-9

And there is plenty to be said for being at peace in our surroundings. May we be welcoming, and may we be the sort of tourist or visitor who does not have hosts thinking longingly of our departure.

Photograph of Dunvegan Castle: Pam Brophy, via Wikipedia

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Going Viral LII: A hidden gem.

Another briefing from Revd Jo Richards, who welcomed Bishop Rose to Saint Mildred’s Canterbury for All Saints. Bishop Rose looks after Canterbury diocese on behalf of Archbishop Justin Welby. Photo by Tim. More change to worship is coming.

Good Morning to you all on this All Soul’s Day, another damp autumnal morning.
It was a delight however yesterday to welcome Bishop Rose to St Mildred’s for our All Saints’ Day Eucharist, which you can watch here. It was a lovely service and thank you to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make it all happen so smoothly, a very memorable day, a hidden gem as Bishop Rose called it – and literally as it took her a while to find it!

From what we understand, following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday night, places of worship will once again close on Thursday 5th November, with the exemption of funerals, individual prayers and to broadcast acts of worship. Further details will be coming out this week from CofE, as to what exactly this means, but our initial thinking is that we will live-stream a Sunday Eucharist from St Dunstan’s at 10.00. As before this will be on Facebook Live, and uploaded to YouTube. If we go down this route it would be really good to have pre-recorded readings and intercessions, and may well have pre-recorded hymns ie – what we did from the Rectory, but in St Dunstan’s – please watch this space!


Meanwhile, today being All Souls Day, thoughts for all those who remember loved ones today. From Exciting Holiness: “Since its foundation, Christians have recognised that the church, the assembled people of God, is at its most perfect when it recognises its unity in God’s redeeming love with all who have said, who say now,  and who will say in the fullness of time ‘Jesus is Lord'”.

God Bless you all, and do keep safe, keep praying and keep connected

Rev Jo Richards Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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21 October: Prayer at the Door

Oh God,
make the door of this house wide enough
to receive all who need human love and fellowship,
and a heavenly Father’s care;
and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and hate.


Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling-block to children,
nor to straying feet,
but rugged enough to turn back the tempter’s power.


Make it a gateway to thy eternal kingdom.


Thomas Ken
Bishop of Bath and Wells under Charles II and James II.

This prayer was on a poster within Saint David’s Cathedral. I don’t recall reading it before, but it is worth returning to on our armchair pilgrimage. I’ve lost track of the groups and individuals that we can invite through our front door right now but look forward to receiving all who knock in the future.

Bishop Ken was ousted from his diocese because, having sworn allegiance to King James, he refused to beak his oath and acknowledge William of Orange. He spent many years in quiet seclusion in Wiltshire.

Image: adapted from the poster of this prayer.

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4 July, Going viral XLII: Good Neighbours with Rev Jo.

Good morning all, and hope all well, as we are here, and another month has past us by.
We have had guidance re opening our churches for worship, and will let you know when we have in mind, once discussed with PCC’s.
 One of the joys of recent months has been getting to know our neighbours, and I know that has been experienced by many up and down the country – that sense of neighbourliness. Looking back it was the Thursday night clap, along with the VE Day tea parties that certainly for us, was a real chance of stopping and talking to those who live next door, and I am sure that echoes with many of you. People whom we may have just walked briskly past, now stop for a conversation – the smile, or acknowledgement, that sense of feeling as though I belong here. Something Bishop Rose spoke about on Sunday in her sermon (available of our YouTube channel if you haven’t yet had the chance to listen). She encourages us to welcome all, and not look the other way. To be that welcome, as Jesus welcomed all. Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31)
I may have mentioned previously in my briefings that all three of our churches recently registered as Inclusive Churches, that means: “We believe in inclusive Church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”    If you want to know more: https://www.inclusive-church.org/ This has been supported by both our PCC’s, and we were looking to take this forward more this year – so if you are interested in working with this initiative, please do let me know.* In the meantime, have a good day, and continue to keep well, keep praying and keep connected.

Bless Jo 🙏🙏🙏

  • I must bear witness that L’Arche with its people with learning disabilities has been made welcome at all three of Rev Jo’s churches, St Mildred’s especially, where Friday morning tea and cakes were a regular treat for the gardeners, and one we look forward to again when people are no longer shielding. MMB.

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April 21, Emmaus IX: STAY WITH US, LORD!

tea42

The two disciples still did not recognise Jesus on the way to Emmaus, even when he was explaining to them what had been happening during the last few days.

As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus walked ahead as if he were going on. But they insisted, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them.

Did you notice in Aylesham Church the picture of Jesus coming to someone’s door and knocking? When he wants to open the doors of our hearts and minds, it’s not like a police raid, smashing down the door. He invites us, with respect.

We see that gentleness here. Jesus could have gone into the pub for himself but he let the two of them invite him to come in.

Yesterday, when our walk was over, we went into the church.

What did we look forward to? What did we do?

Cup of tea.

Chat. Company.

Pray.

Fish and chips.

Rest and later sleep.

Let’s remember the words of those two disciples: STAY WITH US, LORD!

Liis Revell

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25 January, Church Unity Week. Unusual Kindness VIII.

harvest18.1

Receiving and giving

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever, and of a bloody flux. To whom Paul entered in; and when he had prayed, and laid his hands on him, he healed him. Which being done, all that had diseases in the island, came and were healed: Who also honoured us with many honours, and when we were to set sail, they laded us with such things as were necessary.(28:8-10)

Reflection

I thank the stranger for privileging me to receive You.

I thank the Samaritan for making me accept Your care and the love I thought wasn’t in You to give.

I thank Jesus for drawing me to Your precious death to receive Your poverty  as riches that outweigh the world.

I thank the others all who gave to me so much to give.

Prayer

God, giver of life, we thank You for the gift of Your compassionate love which soothes and strengthens us.

We pray that our churches may be always open to receive Your gifts from one another.

Grant us a spirit of generosity to all as we journey together in the path of Christian unity.

We ask this in the name of Your Son who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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January 4: Coming together at Christmastide.

madonna.s.mildred.

A short while before Christmas Janet, John from Uganda and I turned up at the ancient church of Saint Mildred in Canterbury for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. L’Arche being L’Arche, we often find ourselves straddling the denominations like this. Saint Mildred’s is a home from home: The L’Arche garden occupies the Glebe here1. We use their kitchen, have refreshments with the ladies on Friday mornings, and help with Harvest Festival; we have barbecues in summer, watch birds in January, and our pilgrimage across Kent finished here last May.

To represent L’Arche, now an important part of the parish, I was invited by the Rector, Jo Richards, to read the Matthew infancy narrative at the service. Saint Mildred’s is a far cry from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge whose Nine Lessons and Carols is world famous. Saint Mildred’s is not beset with Tudor self-justification and aggrandisement, as King’s is, but it looks as good, in its own way, by candlelight.

This old church remembers our little local Saxon princess who did things her own way, which was the Lord’s. She was one of those determined 7th Century princesses who wanted to study and pray in a religious community: her community is now established back at Minster Abbey where our contributor, Sister Johanna lives out her calling.

And if a few more of today’s young women were given their chance to discover, discern and live out their vocation within the church where would we be? And we are most grateful for the faithful witness of friendship extended to us by the ladies of the parish, together with Church warden Mary and Rector Jo. That helps to bring the Church back together; we should not do things apart that we could do together; we can see this maxim working well locally with the shared welcome for homeless people given by the churches.

Here is the statue of the greatest Christian woman of all time with her Son, within Saint Mildred’s church. It was candlelit for the Nine Lessons and Carols.

1A Glebe was land set apart for a parish priest to support himself – an ecclesiastical allotment.

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November 29: the Apostle Andrew and Dover.

2. fish

With November slipping into December, it’s time to remember Saint Andrew, Apostle and mariner, missionary and martyr, whose feastday is tomorrow.

We passed through his parish in Dover on our L’Arche Kent Pilgrimage in May. All walkers received a sticker with a fish, designed by Ines, one of the community.

The Parish website tells us:

The ancient Buckland Yew Tree suggests that Christian worship has taken place on the site for many centuries, possibly as long as the Christian message came to these shores.

Yew trees are evergreen, and so have been seen as a symbol of eternal life. Ancient yews are to be found at many of the churches we visited on our pilgrimage, including Coldred, Barfrestone, Patrixbourne, and Saint Mildred’s in Canterbury, which is hollow enough for Abel to hide in! Some yews are reckoned to be older than the church beside them: not the first nor the last pagan sites to be Christened.

The present church dates back to 1180, but the Doomsday Book records the fact that there was already a church on the site by 1086. The church is dedicated to St Andrew, Apostle and Martyr (feast day 30th November).  The East window depicts St Andrew kneeling at the side of Our Lord Jesus Christ clutching the church of Buckland in his hands.

The Saint holding the Church: we saw that also at Barfrestone and at Saint Mildred’s in Canterbury: an image of the Communion of Saints we profess in the Creed. ‘Our’ saint, our patron, will pray for us and bring our prayers to God.

So we thank God for the welcome we received at Saint Andrew’s – we did fill a couple of pages in the visitors’ book to say thank you at the time, and left a sticker! And we pray for the parish, especially as they ar given a mission to new families on the old paper mill site.

Saint Andrew, pray for us.

Saint Andrew, pray for Dover.

Saint Andrew, pray for those in peril on the sea.

 

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3 November: A place to reflect

crypt reflection.png

I was surprised to be welcomed at the North Door into the Crypt at Canterbury Cathedral and to have a leaflet thrust into my hand. I barely glanced at it – ‘a place to reflect’ sums up Agnellus’ Mirror’s feelings about this ancient part of the Cathedral – and put it safely in my bag. Reflection is our business in the Mirror, so I promised myself to read it later.

As always, the silence of the Crypt needed to be filtered out of the background noises. Hear each one, Will, then set it aside. Bangings, sawing noises, crane engines and hydraulic lifts: the army of masons, paviours and other tradesmen were about their work, as they always are. Have  I ever seen the building without scaffolding somewhere?

Young voices behind me, coming from the nave. School children? Do they whoop and yell? I remembered that at least two little Turnstone chicks, when babes in arms, discovered the acoustics of the nave, and allowed their happy screams to roll around the space, but they were a choir leader’s nightmare. Worth a smile and a prayer for all the younger Turnstones. At least I’d put aside the whoopers, and found silence, undisturbed by comings and goings around me.

When I got up to climb the stairs to the nave, a solid oak door barred the way. I heard an amplified voice speaking, and remembered seeing a young man in academic dress in the street: I realised it must have been a degree ceremony occupying the nave. Whoops and yells are fair enough under the circumstances.

Let’s pray that the graduands enjoyed their day, and always have room in their lives for reflection and silence.

Oh, the leaflet: it is an excellent guide to the crypt. I learnt that there is a Baptismal Font down there in the Holy Innocents’ Chapel which is encouraging: the main font in the Nave has the Royal Coat of Arms over it, which has always seemed inappropriate to me.

 

 

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October 9: Month of Mission: Pilgrims or Missionaries?

pilgrims way

When we planned this year’s L’Arche Kent pilgrimage, we did not see it as a missionary enterprise. It was a chance for the community to spend time together, which is not going to happen unless we make space for it, as we now number more than 100 people with and without learning disabilities, living and working together in a mosaic of different ways, but sometimes not seeing a friend for weeks or months at a time.

3.StPancras

There was a fairly simple shape to the pilgrims’ day: pray, walk, eat; pray, walk, eat being the plan. Looking back, it seems to me it was a missionary journey. We began at Dover beach, with prayers in the open air; but most of our formal praying took place in churches we visited on our way. The invasion of upwards of fifty walkers was out of the ordinary for each church we visited. We were made welcome everywhere.

tea42

‘It’s so good that our church is being prayed in,’ was one reaction to our visit. Other congregations laid on refreshments. Another asked that we sign the visitors’ book, which we gladly did wherever we found one. ‘It will help us to get grants and permission for toilets if we can show that we are welcoming pilgrims.’

Toilets as a missionary activity? We would say so, based on our experience. At one point on our journey maybe 20 people used the facilities in the home of a centenarian friend (or should we say member) of the community.

Saint Paul does not go into such details!

We came to each church to pray and refresh the outer man or woman as well as the inner. We came to visit the Lord, but we, and our dogs, visited the body of Christ that Paul did talk about, and, I believe we helped to build it up wherever we called.

patrixbourne.nativity.window.small

So it was a missionary journey in many ways that I at least did not foresee. Mutually building up the body of Christ in our L’Arche and parish communities. Perhaps we will be more aware of that next year!

MMB.

L’Arche Kent, 18a St Radigunds St, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2AA.  Telephone 01227 643025

www.larchekent.org.uk

 

 

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