Tag Archives: Community

BDS Canterbury Tales: The Gift of Community

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote / The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote . . .” (Canterbury Tales, Lines 1-2) 

What a day, or should I say days! 

The Quire prior to the evening concert

We left New Haven at 4:30pm on Friday 10 March and arrived at the Canterbury Lodge at 1:15pm on Saturday 11 March. Since arrive on the Close our day has been very full. Lunch, time with the deal, Choral Evensong, dinner, and an evening concert. We certainly are making the most of it time here. 

Thus far, I have really been struck by community. The community here at Canterbury is amazing. There is a real sense that this is not just some ecclesiastical tourism destination – it is, first and foremost, a community of faith and it has been so for nearly 1000 years. It is amazing to listen to the Dean speak of the community here and how the daily schedule of worship is at the heart of everything they do. I find it truly remarkable to have a community so dedicated to maintaining the full and rich daily liturgical pattern of the Church. In some ways, it still feels like a monastic abbey. 

In addition to the present day community, there is also a powerful understanding of the community of all believes – past, present, and yet to come. As I entered the cathedral for evensong and took my place in the quire, I immediately felt the weight of prayer in this place. I was deeply moved by the rich tradition of Canterbury pilgrims that I am now apart of. No wonder I was moved to tears as the choir offer an absolutely beautiful time of prayer. Today was the perfect example of why I love evensong so much – even when it is choral evensong and not congregational evensong. What a gift to add m my own prayers to this well prayers place. 

I cannot write about the profoundness of community in this place without writing about my fellow pilgrims. There are 18 of us on this trip – 18 very different people. It is no secret that our class has not always been the most unified, but I cannot imagine being here without these 17 other people. The conversations and levels of sharing are already so deep – even on this first day. Tonight I learned things about my cohort I never had the opportunity to learn before. As our time together comes to an end, I am particularly thankful to spend this time together with my cohort. What an incredible gift. 

As a group of us walked back to the lodge tonight, we entered the courtyard and turned around to marvel at the beauty of the cathedral lit up in the hazy night sky. What a perfect end to this first day of pilgrimage. 

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Being In Community

In October 2012, The Pew Forum released a survey of Americans and their religious belief.  The Pew study revealed that one in five Americans have no religious affiliation: For people under thirty, that number is one in three.  Figuring out how to connect and reach out to these religious “nones” has been the topic of conversation for Christian leaders for the past several months.  But, unlike some of the other buzzwords and topics, I think this one is very, very important.

At its last meeting, the hospitality council began to ask some really fascinating questions.  My favorite is; how do we show hospitality to the wider community? As our conversation has begun to unfold I wondered about the “nones” in our community.  How can we connect with them?  How can we reach out to them? How can we listen to their stories and learn from what turned them away from the Church in the first place? But, I wonder about more than just the “nones,” I wonder about all the people in our community.  I wonder about how we can reach out to everyone around us? How can we share the abundant gifts we have? How can we build relationships with those outside our walls?

ImageIn Sunday’s epistle from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we hear a well-known piece of scripture.  “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Here Paul is speaking about the divisions of his time, but we can just as easily come up with all those things which divide us today: race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, education, sports team, etc. We are reminded that these things don’t matter, that we are all called to be one in Christ – to be in community with one another.

When we hear Paul’s words on Sunday, may they enliven us and inspire our discernment as we try to find new ways of being community and building relationships with all those around us.  May we be strengthened to listen to how they have felt unwelcomed.  And may these words encourage us to put aside our differences and recognize the presence of Christ in all people – whether they see the presence of Christ in themselves or not.

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