Friday, July 11, 2008

Blessing the Lambeth Chaplains

Tonight we blessed the Lambeth Chaplaincy team. The liturgy began with a beautiful hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing;” familiar words but Melanesian tune, sung in four part harmony at a fast pace. Then four brothers in grass skirts catapulted up the aisle singing the Gloria. It was as if an electric current shot into the room: joy, passion for mission, love of God and all creation. The liturgy swept on, filled with clapping, radiant smiles and at one point tears as we remembered the seven young Melanesian Brothers who died during the civil tension which shook the Islands eight years ago. They had been working for peace, trying to reconcile hurting, angry people. We are going on a mission to Canterbury, we are going to pray with the people we meet, we have committed ourselves to listening to all who seek us out. We too are working for peace, offering our lives. After receiving communion we approached the Altar, singing “Nearer my God to Thee” in Swahili (Karibu na Wewe) as we learned it from our Sisters Dorothy and Martha from the Community of St. Mary in Tanzania. We knelt down, all 21 of us, and were blessed: “…bless these our Brothers and Sisters who are going as your servants to the Lambeth Conference; be always with them to keep them safe in all dangers and temptations; make them strong in prayer and faith that they may overcome all difficulties an fears…And so fill them with the fire of your love and the light of your truth that those to whom they minister may come to love you more and to serve you better…” As Br. Benedict came to the point in the blessing: “May our lady Mary pray for you…” the chaplains burst into the most heartfelt rendition of the Litany of the Saints I have every heard, petitioning the saints to pray for us. Blessed, we sang to the rest of the assembled brothers and friends at Hilfield Friary: “…Heave out your boat and come on board/ They say there’s plenty room;/ The Captain says your welcome now/ Make no delay but come./ Come join our happy crew/ We’re bound for Canaan’s shore/ The Captain says there’s room for you/ And room for millions more.

After a dinner of baked potatoes, we gathered to continue our celebration of our 10 day retreat here at Hilfield Friary with more singing and dancing, ending with Gooseberry Fool made from berries we picked this morning.

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