Sunday, 3 July 2016

‘God of our pilgrimage, you have led us to the living water.
Refresh and sustain us as we go forward on our journey’

The bells of the village parish church in Tsesmes, east of Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

This is the Sixth Sunday after Trinity, and I am probably going to go to church this morning [3 July 2016] in the little village of Tsesmes, which is a short stroll from Platanes, the village east of Rethymnon where I am staying in Crete since last Wednesday.

Like every village here, there is a local Greek Orthodox Church. But Tsesmes also has a Romanian evangelical church, the Church of God, as well as an English-speaking evangelical congregation, the International Christian Fellowship, that meets in the Romanian church.

Unfortunately, the only Anglican church in Crete is too far away for a Sunday morning journey from the eastern fringes of Rethymnon. This morning is also the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, and it might have been interesting on this feast day to be present at the Sunday Eucharist in the Anglican Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle in the small, rural village of Kefalas in the Apokoronas area of Crete, about 30 minutes east of Chania.

The priest in charge is Canon Philip Lambert, and the parish believes that the Greek Orthodox Church has many riches which also enrich “our Western brand of Christianity.”

The small Anglican community in Crete is keen to support the local community, especially the poor, and gives a high proportion of its money to local charities that care for the homeless, the disabled, very poor families and the elderly.

The church traces its story to a small group of people who began meeting regularly in 2003 in the home of Tony Lane, a retired steel boat builder from Bristol, and his wife Suzanne, to pray and worship. In 2007, Tony Lane realised the need for a more suitable building. Inspired by typical Cretan mountain chapels, he designed and built the Chapel of Saint Thomas.

In July that year, the newly-built church was named and blessed by Canon Mike Peters, and the church was officially dedicated by Bishop Geoffrey Rowell in 2008. Terry Wilcock was later ordained, and Canon Philip Lambert, a former canon missioner at Truro Cathedral, has been the priest-in-charge since July 2014.

The Anglican Church was recently recognised in Greek law as a “Religious Legal Body” and the chaplaincy in Crete works closely with Canon Malcom Bradshaw and the Anglican Church in Athens.

Canon Bradshaw spoke last month at the USPG conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire, presenting an interesting analysis of the economic and humanitarian crises that Greece is suffering, and told moving stories of the work with refugees, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan, that is being supported by the Anglican chaplaincies in Greece and by USPG.

As I think of this work I am also reflecting on this morning’s Gospel reading (Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20), in which Christ sends out the 70, two by two, “to every town and place where he himself intended to go,” and tells them: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Canon Malcom Bradshaw of the Anglican Church in Athens speaking at the USPG conference in Swanwick last month (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Readings: 2 Kings 5. 1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6: [1-6], 7-16; Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20.

Collect:

Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
Pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Post Communion Prayer:

God of our pilgrimage,
you have led us to the living water.
Refresh and sustain us
as we go forward on our journey,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Romanian evangelical Church of God in Tsesmes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such great work helping the port and elderly and the refuges
Liam