Tag Archives: welcome

21 May: The risk of Gentleness

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is attic-mary.jpg
From the Church of Our Lord in the Attic, Amsterdam

It’s Mary’s month, I know, and we could have said more about her, so now here is a good, challenging read about motherhood – parenthood, even, but mostly motherhood – and the risks of welcoming a new person into one’s body, home, family. A risk that Mary accepted. This article from The Plough Quarterly, The Risk of Gentleness by Gracy Olmstead, is subtitled: Welcoming the baby I did not want.

But Ms Olmstead found room for her son, and is still adapting and changing to make him welcome.

 It is a shock to see the midwife or doctor hold up a freshly birthed baby, red and crying and real. For all our intimate knowing of each other, this is our first encounter as separate individuals. For the newborn, the reality of our separation is sensed through vulnerability, cold, and brightness – unpleasant sensations to be hushed and soothed by a mother’s arms and breasts. For the mother, however, this meeting is the moment in which we say “hello” to the unique human we’ve, by some miracle, sustained inside of us, yet now fully see and know as other …

Like Mary, we must make space: to accept our feebleness and embrace the mystery, knowing that God is good even – and especially – in our weakness and our poverty. Do read the article! Will.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission

18 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Day I.

DAY 1 You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16)

Genesis 12:1-4 The call of Abraham
John 1:35-51 The call of the first disciples

Prayer
Jesus Christ,
you seek us, you wish to offer us your friendship
and lead us to a life that is ever more complete.
Grant us the confidence to answer your call
so that we may be transformed
and become witnesses of your tenderness for the world.


Questions
• Have you ever been aware that God was asking you or someone you know to begin a new journey in life – whether literally moving to somewhere else, or ‘changing direction’ in some other way?
How did you respond?
• What changes could your church or group of churches make to empower God’s people to walk more faithfully the path God has set for you, or to discern God’s guidance more clearly?
• What are some of the stories of the ‘new’ members of your community, whether they have crossed a county boundary or journeyed across continents to get there?

The booklet for Church Unity week can be found here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Mission

24 December: Myrrh


Rather like Saint Francis, Father Andrew, the pioneer Anglican Franciscan, was very attuned to Christmas, and wrote many poems about the feast. I wrote about the gifts a couple of years back.

Kings should offer gold, rich, royal men –
And I am poor and no red gold have I;
Must I stay in the cold, sad shadows then,
While kings in light spread splendours splendidly?

Saints should offer incense, holy men –
My shabby soul is soiled and stained with sin;
Must I wait, shut without the stable then,
While saints join kings to offer gifts within?

Lo, I am not alone, but round me here
In the wan shadows, waiting wistfully
With nothing else to bring but only myrrh,
Stands silent, shy, a grey-glad company.

‘Tis well for us, we of the common crowd,
That we may bring sad symbollings of myrrh,
Where God lies sleeping ‘neath a stable shroud
Of common straw, and leave our offerings there.

We will be glad the incense makes a veil
To hide us somewhat, and the saint’s pure prayer
Goes with the golden gifts where we must fail;
Yet we will dare to bring our meed of myrrh.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, poetry

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, corona virus, Mission, PLaces

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, L'Arche

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Mission

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces, winter