Sunday, June 27, 2010

A reflection of hope


Eternal God, comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope;
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your son Jesus Christ our Lord.
(prayer after communion at Coventry Cathedral)

Coventry, England
June 26 and 27, 2010

In World War II, Coventry, England was a center for weapons manufacturing. On November 14, 1940, the city was a target for one of the worst air raids of the war. Hundreds died and the historic St. Michael's Cathedral, where St. Mary's Benedictine monastery was built in 1043, was destroyed.

The striking Coventry Cathedral was rebuilt beside the ruins of the blitzed St. Michael's in 1962. In the photo above, a remnant of the old wall is reflected through the glass of one of the new walls. The new cathedral a powerful symbol of rebirth and reconciliation.

We talked to Canon David Porter, minister of reconciliation for the cathedral. David has a long history of working with Mennonites in northern Ireland. He says part of the theology of reconciliation is a commitment to justice. David noted John Paul Lederach's help in the peace process in northern Ireland in supporting the efforts of local leaders in building peace.

David said the world has come to Coventry and it has one of the most diverse populations in England. Immigrant groups seem to find their way here. It has given Coventry Cathedral many opportunities to pick up the mantle of reconciliation.

Having just come from a celebration of armed forces day at the cathedral before he talked to us, David shared his struggle to be both pastorally present in the community and prophetically challenging to the people. He observed that Jesus was silently embedded in his community for 30 years before being actively prophetic for three years and wondered whether this might be about the right proportion.

As Christians, we are set apart from the world around us but we also belong to the community, nation and world in which we serve. The Coventry Cathedral community offers us a reflection of hope for how that can be possible.

On Sunday afternoon, I embedded byself in the community by watching the Germans demolish England in the World Cup. Later in the day, most of the group participated in an inspiring 400th anniversary performance of Monteverdi's Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary composed in 1610.

We gathered in the parish hall after the performance to reflect on our pilgrimage and to say our good byes to each other. This has truly been a remarkable journey together, not the least of which has been forging new friendships.

Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm, we sang, enfold me, Lord, in your peace.




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