Published: November 2010
Requiem and Thanksgiving follows in the steps of earlier Niagara Anglican articles about my summer travels—the miracle and joy of seeing the Frauenkirche in Dresden, rebuilt in God's time, and the simple wooden cross looking down over the Eagle's Nest/Hitler's Lair at Berchtesgarten, a simple reminder that Jesus is still doing His work long after the Nazi era has gone.
This year was different yet again. We visited Bayeux which is close to the Normandy landing beaches of WWII. I visited the British War Cemetery in Bayeux—the resting place of some 4,000 British Servicemen. It was a simple, quiet cemetery with row on row of tombstones set in the grass, the great majority with a cross on them. I wondered whether we would have that witness to the risen Christ today. I would very much hope so. Many tombstones had the simple inscription 'Known only unto God'—a reminder that He knows and calls each one of us by name. I found it helpful to remember that my freedom today is very much due to those who gave their lives in WWII and God's protection of that 'Island race'.
And God had a surprise for us on the weekend we were in Bayeux. We decided to go to Mass in the Cathedral—which was about the size of Notre Dame in Paris. Imagine our surprise when we found around a thousand people there—many dressed for the Medieval Festival, some sitting on chairs in one of the transepts and others, which we joined, standing in the nave. The congregation was welcomed by the Celebrant in both French and English, the service and good sermon were in French and the creed and Lord's Prayer sung in Latin. It was made clear that all were welcome to participate and we joined others for Communion. At the end of the service imagine our delight when the three Celebrants greeted and had a word with everyone at the West door as they left. And on either side of the doors were two very visible posters advertising an Alpha program!
Remembrance Day and Synod are soon to be upon us. We have much to be thankful for in our land and in our Anglican church. We also need to move on and get out into the market place and use tools such as Alpha to help grow God's church and stop our decline. Our church is one generation away from extinction and we need to change our priorities, budget and ministry style to attract people to Christ and thus grow.
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