Sunday, 2 May 2021

The composer Clementi
returns to Lichfield with
an afternoon of music

Patrick Comerford

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), known as the ‘Father of the Pianoforte,’ is part of the programme of this year’s Lichfield Festival, almost 200 years after he first moved to Lichfield in 1828.

I first became aware of Clementi’s story while I was staying at the Hedgehog Vintage Inn on the northern outskirts of Lichfield, and I later wrote about his Lichfield links for the Lichfield Gazette in March 2014. Clementi lived in Lichfield from 1828 until the end of 1831, and he lived in the house for almost four years while it was known as Lyncroft House.

Clementi was an Italian-born English composer, pianist, music teacher, conductor, music publisher, piano and instrument manufacturer, successful businessman and a founder member of the London Philharmonic Society of London, which later became the Royal Philharmonic Society.

Clementi was a friend of both Mozart and Beethoven, and he was the publisher of Beethoven’s music in England. His pupils were Johan Baptist Cramer, Ignaz Mocheles and the Dublin-born composer John Field.

Celementi came to live in Lichfield from 1828. Lyncroft House was built in 1797, and he rented the house from the Earl of Lichfield’s Estate from Lady Day (25 March) 1828. He officially retired in 1830 but continued to live in Lichfield until late Autumn 1831.

When he died in 1832, Clementi was buried in Westminster Abbey with a public funeral. John Field from Dublin was one of the pallbearers.

There was another Irish connection too: Clementi’s son, John Muzio Clementi, later lived in Ireland, and in 1858 built Iveragh Lodge in Waterville, Co Kerry, recently on the market.

Lyncroft House later became the home of the Revd Henry Gylby Lonsdale (1791-1851) when he was Vicar of Saint Mary’s Church, Lichfield, in the 1830s, and is now the Hedgehog Vintage Inn.

But why did Clement move to Lichfield. And what connections did he have with the city?

The story about his life and accomplishments is being told at the Lichfield Festival this year, during an afternoon event interspersed with a demonstration on an original 1825 Clementi square piano, from the Finchcock’s Piano Museum collection.

‘Clementi in Lichfield’ takes place in Wade Street Church, Lichfield, on Friday 9 July from 2pm to 3 pm, and is sponsored by Janette Horton and the Lichfield Civic Society. The afternoon and ends with a modern arrangement of a Clementi piece on acoustic violin and Clementi Piano.

The programme with live music includes a brief reflection on Muzio Clementi’s long and successful life and some of his many achievements, including his connections with his contemporaries Beethoven and Mozart. Tickets are £14.

Lichfield Festival provides inspiring multi-arts experiences and aims to inspire creativity through performance and participation in the annual summer festival. The diverse events and activities range from dance to drama, classical music to comedy and folk to family workshops.

Further details about this year’s programme, from 8 to 18 July 2021, are available HERE.

The plaque commemorating Muzio Clementi at the Hedgehog Vintage Inn in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

From Cambridge to Cappoquin,
an Irish enthusiasm for rowing

Jesus College Boat Club, Cambridge … a photograph used in a fundraising brochure (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The performance of Irish rowers at the European championships in Varese this April has been a sporting triumph that has been overshadowed in sports coverage by Rachel Blackmore’s string of racing successes.

At an international level, the Irish performance at soccer is greatly overshadowed by the performance of Irish teams in other disciplines, including rugby, cricket and rowing. Yet soccer seems to dominate weekend sports coverage in Irish newspapers and on television.

Perhaps this reflects the childhood obsessions of many sports journalists and commissioning editors, and boyhood fascinations with English soccer. I have been an Aston Villa fan since my childhood, but I would prefer to spend a lazy weekend afternoon watching rugby, cricket or rowing.

My clerical colleagues know what it is to crash out on the sofa on the afternoon of Easter Day. This year, that afternoon was all the more enjoyable for me because it coincided with the Boat Race, which was a double success for Cambridge, with the men winning the race for the third consecutive year and the women winning earlier in the afternoon.

The Cambridge teams had to learn to adapt to an unfamiliar training programme, continuing to make physiological and technical improvements despite being unable to train on the water or in the Goldie Boathouse gym. For the majority of the team, lockdowns meant carrying out the programme alone, often in their bedrooms.

Sidney Sussex shares a boathouse in Cambridge with Girton, Corpus Christi and Wolfson (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

***

The Boat Race is one of the major events in the English sporting calendar, alongside the Aintree Grand National and the FA Cup Final, test matches at Lords and rugby internationals at Twickenham. Yet, it was difficult to find any substantial coverage in Irish newspapers the following day.

One Irish journalist based her report on television coverage and said the venue ‘looked a little bit like a weedy canal in the middle of nowhere. The Great Ouse in Ely, Cambridgeshire, to be exact, but that’s sort of the same thing.’

Ely Cathedral is one of the seven wonders of the mediaeval world and is referred to with affection as ‘the Ship of the Fens.’ But cultural prejudice and historical ignorance trumped any appropriate sporting journalism that morning.

I sometimes think anti-English racism is the only permissible form of openly expressed prejudice in Ireland. Those thoughts were confirmed as the writer amused herself by observing how ‘the organisers didn’t want a heap of Barnabys, Marmadukes, Montagues and Hugos tumbling into the river as the race passed underneath.’

Had she written in the same tones about working class supporters of Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium, it would have been easy to name and shame the prejudice.

Present and recent Cambridge alumni include: Archbishop John Neill, Archbishop Michael Jackson and Bishop Kenneth Kearon; President Erskine Childers (Trinity), the late Brian Lenihan (Sidney Sussex) and Jim O’Callaghan (Sidney Sussex). Martin Mansergh’s father, Professor Nicholas Mansergh, was the Master of Saint John’s College, Cambridge. Famously, Charles Stuart Parnell became involved in brawls with fellow undergraduates when he refused to pay his membership fees for Magdalene Boat Club.

Ely Cathedral is known affectionately as ‘the Ship of the Fens’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

From the Backs to
the ‘Old Dark Blues’


When I first arrived at Sidney Sussex College in my mid-50s in 2008 to study through the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, I thought, perhaps, I was too old to inquire about the facilities at the boat clubs. But I have enjoyed walking along the Backs and was honoured some years ago when one of my photographs was used in a brochure to find sponsors for Jesus College Boat Club.

This enthusiasm for rowing was first nurtured in my childhood in West Waterford, when I enjoyed the attractions of Cappoquin Rowing Club, ‘the Old Dark Blues,’ on the bend on the River Blackwater.

Cappoquin Rowing Club was founded in 1862, making it one of Ireland’s oldest clubs and Cappoquin’s oldest sporting and social organisation. Sir John Henry Keane of Cappoquin House was the club’s first president – and there lies another Cambridge link. He had captained the Trinity Boat at Cambridge three decades earlier and had rowed for Cambridge in 1836. Oxford were the favourites that year, but Cambridge won by four lengths.

Sir John Keane laid the foundations of the Cappoquin Rowing Club, and the first clubhouse was built in 1875. Cappoquin joined other clubs in the 1880s in establishing the Irish Amateur Rowing Association, and the Irish Amateur Rowing Union was founded in 1899.

A later clubhouse in 1910 was financed substantially by the Villiers-Stuart family of Dromana House. The present boathouse is the third on the site, but incorporates parts of the previous buildings, including the overhanging wooden balcony.

Later in the 20th century, Sir Richard Keane brought over Hugo Pitman, one of Oxford’s best-known oarsmen and twice captain of an Oxford boat that beat Cambridge, to help coach the successful McGrath eight.

Cappoquin Rowing Club, ‘the Old Dark Blues’ … founded in 1862 and one of Ireland’s oldest clubs (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

***

A plaque at the steps above the clubhouse celebrates Charles Orr Stanley (1899-1969), a patron of Cappoquin rowing and a son of one of the founders of the club. Stanley was a successful businessman who lived in Cambridge, where he farmed and was a director of the Pye multinational.

In the 1960s, Pye also took over Banhams on a site next to Elizabeth Way Bridge on the River Cam. Banhams had been boat builders for over 100 years.

At the time, Cambridge had 28 college clubs and 22 clubs had their boats built by Banhams, who also built the boats for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Stanley brought the finances of the Cambridge University Boat Club from a state of disaster to the one of keen health it has enjoyed ever since.

Those childhood days in Cappoquin have a natural continuity with my walks along the banks of the Cam in recent years, and along the River Liffey between Islandbridge and Chapelizod.

Since moving to Askeaton, I have been happy to be part of the Desmond Rowing Club on the banks of the River Deel. Limerick is richly endowed with boat clubs, and Limerick rowing, like Limerick rugby, is a sport that breaks down all social barriers.

Dublin University Boat Club … Caoimhe Dempsey came to rowing at Trinity College Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

A shared experience
on the River Cam


Irish women rowers have been as successful as their male colleagues. Caoimhe Dempsey from Wicklow was in the Cambridge women’s blue boat this year that won the fourth consecutive victory for Cambridge.

Caoimhe Dempsey is from a sporting background: her mother was a hill runner who represented Ireland, and her grandmother played hockey for Ireland. She tried many sports, including GAA, hurling, hockey and tennis, and came to rowing at Trinity College Dublin where she was part of the senior team.

As well as rowing for Trinity and for Cambridge, Caoimhe Dempsey has also represented Ireland, winning a gold medal in the under-23 European Championships. This is the second consecutive year she was selected for the Blue Boat: she was selected for the Blue Boat last year before the race was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Dempsey told Cambridge 105 Radio that she was encouraged to come to Cambridge after seeing previous Trinity alumni she had raced with also make it there. Among them were her first novice coach, Susannah Cass, who had previously competed in the Boat Race for Cambridge, and Sally O’Brien, former captain of DULBC.

Caoimhe is now a post-graduate student at Newnham College, Cambridge, working on a PhD in developmental psychology, having arrived in Cambridge to work on an MPhil in developmental and child psychology.

Eimear Lambe, who was one of the Irish four who won silver in the women’s four A final at Varese this April, is a younger sister of the Irish Olympian Claire Lambe from Cabra, Dublin, who was a member of the Cambridge crew in the Women’s Boat Race in 2017.

Claire Lambe partnered Sinéad Lynch in the Ireland lightweight double that took sixth in the Rio Olympics and was the No 3 seat for Cambridge in the Boat Races in 2017. Claire Lambe rowed with Commercial in Dublin and UCD, and raced in the Corcoran Cup.

Claire Lambe was studying for an MPhil degree in engineering and sustainable development at Cambridge when she became the first Ireland international to win the women’s Boat Race. That year, the Cambridge women’s crew set a new record (18 minutes 34 seconds).

Neptune and Commercial on the banks of the Liffey … Claire Lambe of Cambridge rowed with Commercial (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

***

The Cambridge coach Rob Baker was a former Ireland under-23 coach. Since 2018, he has been the chief coach of the Cambridge University Boat Club.

The Cambridge University Boat Club was founded in 1828. It issued a challenge in early 1829 to Oxford University to row a boat race and the first Boat Race took place that year.

Last year, the three historic university boat clubs – the Boat Club, the Women’s Boat Club and the Lightweight Rowing Club – merged in the Cambridge University Boat Club. The clubs had already been working together, sharing facilities and other resources, and in some cases training together. This now one club, bringing all the best of the three previous clubs together, sharing resources, knowledge and experience.

Enjoying rowing on the River Deel with Desmond Rowing Club in Askeaton

This two-page feature was first published in the May 2021 edition of the ‘Church Review’ (Dublin and Glendalough), pp 10-11.

Sunday intercessions on
2 May 2021, Easter V

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ (John 15: 5) … an icon of the True Vine in the parish church in Piskopianó in the mountains east of Iraklion in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Let us pray:

‘My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples’ (John 15: 8):

Heavenly Father,
we pray for the nations of the world,
and for our own country Ireland, north and south.

We give thanks for all who are involved in responding to the present pandemic crisis …
for all in vaccination centres, in health centres and in medical practices …
for all volunteers, medical professionals and administrators …
for all who make decisions and seek to influence public opinion for the good …
for all who hold out hope and promise for our future …
and we pray too for the people of India in their suffering …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘Abide in me as I abide in you’ (John 15: 4):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may always abide in you as you abide in us,
and bear much fruit as your disciples.

We pray for our Bishop, Kenneth, our neighbouring churches and parishes
and people of faith everywhere,
that we may be blessed in their variety and diversity.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East,
Archbishop Michael Lewis, Primate and Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf,
Archbishop Hosam Naoum of Jerusalem, who is to be installed on Ascension Day (13 May),
and Archbishop Suheil Dawani, who retired this weekend.

We pray for all involved in Christian Aid Week (10 to 16 May).

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Conor
and Bishop George Davison.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer this week,
we pray for the General Synod,
and its members from our diocese.

We pray for our own parishes and people,
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them’ (I John 4: 16):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another …
we pray for those we love and those who love us …
we pray for family, friends and neighbours …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We pray for those who feel rejected and discouraged …
we pray for all in need and those who seek healing …
for all who work for healing …
for all waiting for healing …
for all taking part in Darkness into Light next Saturday (8 May) …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home or in hospital …

Ann … Valerie … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay …
Joey … Ena … George … Louise …

We pray for those we have offered to pray for …
and we pray for those who pray for us …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for Ruby and the Shorten family …
for Jimmy, Cian, Fiachra and Saedhbh …
Joey, Kenneth, Victor, and their families …
Louie, Trevor, David, and their families …

We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
especially for Walter Long … Ernest Gardiner … Una Kerr …
Val Tomkins … Linda Smyth … Nora Hawkes …

May their memories be a blessing to us …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on the Fifth Sunday of Easter:

Creator God,
help us abide in you,
as you abide in us.
Let us learn from each other,
and from you.

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

‘Fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink’ … grapes ripening on a vine in Platanias, near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These intercessions were prepared for use in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Sunday 2 May 2021



Life with a good bunch
who abide in Christ, when
Christ abides in them

‘Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me’ (John 15: 4) … a sculpture in Knightstown, Valentia Island, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 2 May 2021

The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Easter V)

10 a.m.:
The Eucharist.

The Readings: Acts 8: 26-40, Psalm 22: 25-31; I John 4: 7-21; John 15: 1-8.

There is a link to the readings HERE.

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ (John 15: 5) … a stained glass window in Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles, Co Tipperary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

I have here a bunch of grapes.

Now, how mean of me would it be if I were to offer you just one single grape and no more?

One grape in my hand looks fine. But the stem of the vine that is left over looks dishevelled and grotty – a sign of things once promised, but no good on its own.

Grapes on their own as individuals are small fruit. A vine on its own without fruit looks forlorn and wilting, if not dead.

A few years ago, a friend in Greece was very excited when he realised we were returning to his village in Crete that summer for our holidays.

He rang us with gushing enthusiasm and delight. We must come and see what he had done with the ‘graveyard’ in his village, Piskopianó.

‘The graveyard?’

Now, I am interested in visiting churches and churchyards, and graveyards and gravestones provide rich material for social, local and family history.

I am still hoping – hoping in all hope – to get back to Greece later this year. But a graveyard is not the first place you think your friends want you to visit on a holiday in the Mediterranean.

So, I asked again: ‘The graveyard?’

‘Yes, you’re going to be delighted to see how the vines are growing with new life. You remember how I trimmed back the vines and the branches and how I built new trellises. Now there is a rich crop in the grapeyard this year.’

The grapeyard! Of course. Now it makes sense.

I had shown an interest in his grapes, his vineyard … and a healthy interest in wine.

Now a new lesson awaited me on how to grow grapes, how to trim the vines, and how vines, like people, only make sense in clusters.

You can make no wine from a single grape, or even a single bunch. The grapes on the bunch, and the clusters on the vine, produce better fruit and better wine when they are together, working together, abiding in and with each other.

In our Gospel reading this morning (John 15: 1-8), Christ talks about himself as the true vine, and he invites us to abide in him as he abides in us. The Prayer of Humble Access prays ‘that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.’

In our Gospel reading this morning, he tells us: ‘I am the true vine.’

This is the seventh and last of the seven ‘I AM’ (ἐγώ εἰμι, ego eimi) sayings in Saint John’s Gospel. They begin with ‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6: 35) and end with ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15: 1).

It is as though our experience of meeting Christ together in the Eucharist, in sharing the bread and wine together, collectively, bookends or encloses our experiences of Christ as the light of the world (John 8:12), the gate for the sheep (John 10: 7), the good shepherd (John 10: 11), the resurrection and the life (John 11: 25), and the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14: 6).

Poetically, the bread and the vine open and close these seven ‘I AM’ sayings.

Our openness to Christ present in the bread and the wine of the Eucharist is at the beginning and the end of our acceptance of who Christ is for us.

The image in our reading this morning is of God the vine grower and the gardener. Christ is the vine and we are branches bearing fruit.

The vine is trimmed so that it can grow new fruit. But this is not the heart of the teaching here. Instead, the image offered here is one of abiding and remaining. The image of the vine grower, the vineyard, the vine and the branches is one about the living Word existing as the life blood of those who belong to Christ.

The Johannine scholar Raymond Brown says this passage is about the disciples remaining in Christ. Many people in the Church talk about following Jesus and leading a virtuous life.

But here, the image of abiding is about being, not about becoming.

If we are abiding in Christ, then God is central, not the desires of our egos.

And so, when we are invited to the Holy Table, to the Holy Communion, to the Eucharist, it is not because we lead a virtuous life, and we should not be afraid to come to the Eucharist, fretting that others think we live lives that are not virtuous.

Instead, the words of the Prayer of Humble Access remind us:

We do not presume to come to this your table,
merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord,
whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us. Amen.

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower’ (John 15: 1) … a small vineyard in Platanias, near Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 1-8 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 1 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’

Graveyard or Grapeyard? … there are no vines in the graveyard between Piskopianó and Koutouloufári (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical colour: White.

The Greeting (from Easter Day until Pentecost):

Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you raised your Son from the dead.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
through you we are more than conquerors.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
you help us in our weakness.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Collect of the Day (Easter V):

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
Grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.

Introduction to the Peace:

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, Peace be with you. Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20: 19, 20).

Preface:

Above all we praise you
for the glorious resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord,
the true paschal lamb who was sacrificed for us;
by dying he destroyed our death;
by rising he restored our life:

Post-Communion Prayer:

Eternal God,
in word and sacrament
we proclaim your truth in Jesus Christ and share his life.
In his strength may we ever walk in his way,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Blessing:

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
raise you up to walk with him in the newness of his risen life:

Dismissal (from Easter Day to Pentecost):

Go in the peace of the Risen Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ (John 15: 5) … grapes and branches on the vines in the Hedgehog on the northern edge of Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

39, For the fruits of his creation
634, Love divine, all loves excelling
468, How shall I sing that majesty

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ (John 15: 5) … grapes ripening in Tsesmes, near Rethymnon in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.



Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
75, Tsesmes and Platanias

The Easter Vigil outside the Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsesmes, near Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

This is Easter Day in the Calendar of the Orthodox Church, and this week is Easter Week. I miss the opportunity of being in Greece at this special time of year, so my photographs this week are from churches in Crete.

My photographs this morning (2 May 2021) are from the Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsesmes and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Platanias, east of Rethymnon. For five years in a row, I have stayed in the suburban areas of Platanias and Tsesmes, east of Rethymnon, and I still hold out of hope being back there later this year.

This area is a mixture of suburban, commercial, and slowly developing tourism. The shops, supermarkets and restaurants cater primarily for the local residents, but there are a number of small hotels and apartment blocks where I have stayed, including La Stella, Varvara’s Diamond and Julia Apartments.

These two villages have merged almost seamlessly, and although they have two churches, they form one parish, served by one priest, Father Dimitrios Tsakpinis.

These churches are recently-built parish churches: the church in Platanias dates from 1959 and the church in Tsesmes from 1979. They are small, and in many ways, unremarkable churches, compared to the older, more historic churches in the old town of Rethymnon.

But when I am in Platanias and Tsesmes, I have seen them as my parish churches, and I have always been welcomed warmly.

The Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsemes, east of Rethymnon (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 1-8 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 1 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’

Inside the Church of Saint Nektarios in Tsesmes on a Sunday morning (Photograph Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (2 May 2021, the Fifth Sunday of Easter) invites us to pray:

Creator God,
help us abide in you,
as you abide in us.
Let us learn from each other,
and from you.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Platanias, east of Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Aghia Triada Church in Platanias on a Sunday morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)