Jean Vanier, founder of the L’arche community died last week and his funeral is this afternoon. You can read more about his life at this link. I dedicated this morning’s service to his life making extensive use of his words rather than my own. This included an excerpt from a radio interview which you can access at this link. I chose the section from 2 mins in until 5 minutes but the whole interview (best part of an hour) is well worth listening to.
I also included the following prayer based on a number of Jean’s writings which I culled from a web-site that I can’t now rediscover!
Let us Pray,
“A tiny child needs not only food and shelter but something more… much more… a feeling of love, that someone cares for him, ready to die for him, that he is really loved, that he is important… precious. And so he begins to live and begins to sense the value of his being. And so it is that life rises in him and he grows in confidence in himself and in his possibilities of life and of creation.”
We give thanks for the promise of life that has risen in each of us. We look back over our lives, recognise the love that we have received, and give thanks.
“There are forces of selfishness and fear in each of us, but where there is good spiritual nourishment, the power of love rises up.”
We acknowledge the presence of selfishness and fear within us limiting the life that was created at our birth and preventing us from becoming the person we were intended to be. Let us be open to spiritual nourishment, that the power of love might rise up inside us.
“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.”
We acknowledge our weakness and difficulties, the things we struggle with in life. Let us have the confidence to share our vulnerabilities that we might nourish each other.
“It is important to enter into the mystery of pain, the pain of our brothers and sisters in countries that are at war, the pain of our brothers and sisters who are sick, who are hungry, who are in prison; brothers and sisters who do not know where they will sleep this night. It is important to enter into the pain of all those for whom no one cares and who are alone; all those who are living grief and loss.”
Let us enter into the pain of our broken world and of our broken brothers and sisters, both close to us, those far away and those unknown.
“When an activity or a person fills our lives, inspires us or gives us a zest for life, their absence can plunge us into this feeling of total emptiness. We live a kind of inner death. Life no longer flows forth in us. We are filled with a sense of loss and of grief; a heaviness, which resembles depression, permeates our whole being. This pain and this heaviness are not a sickness but a normal, natural reaction to a loss that touches the very meaning of our lives.”
Let us enter into the pain of those who grieve the loss of a person or activity that has given them a zest for life.
“A community is always built around people; people should not be shaped to suit community.”
Let us build a community around people; around the people we know and love and around the people we should know and love.
“Genuine healing happens here, not in miraculous cures, but through mutual respect, care, and love. Paradoxically, vulnerability becomes a source of strength and wholeness, a place of reconciliation and communion with others.”
Let it be a community that, through sharing vulnerability, offers reconciliation and communion, and a vision of God’s Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven.
Let us share the Lord’s Prayer…