Celtic Wedding Blessing

I had neared my overnight stop en route to the Norfolk Celtic Wedding Blessing when I saw a sign to 'Hackness Monastery'. My new book about Saint Hilda tells how she founded a daughter monastery at Hackness, but my research suggested the site had long been submerged under a lake. Intrigued, I hunted down this monastery. Copts welcomed me. They invited me to an evening meal. I felt so at home. They had no idea that there had ever been a monastery at Hackness before theirs. I gave them a copy of the Hilda book. Coptic monasteries are emerging in Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well. There is a deep connection between the Coptic and Celtic traditions.

On to the peaceful Norfolk Broads, across the ferry to Reedham. The Archer family own the ferry, the ferry inn and the surrounding wildlife area. Bridegroom Charlie had befriended Christ while on a visit to us at Lindisfarne; bride Emma did so more recently. Following a private civil wedding they wanted a Celtic Wedding Blessing for their eighty guests in the ferry inn grounds. Under an arch they exchanged two candles that were lit from the Christ candle, and each vowed to the other: 'As the stars in the sky and the tides in the sea are constant and true, I pledge myself to you in faithfulness and love.' As they clasped their hands together they asked me to twine my sacramental stole around them and say: 'This prayer stole indicates that something within yourself yet infinitely greater than yourselves has joined you together. As your hands are bound, so be your hearts, minds, bodies and souls.'

I spent a day at Bowthorpe, Ecumenical Partnership on the outskirts of Norwich. It is like a treasure found in a field. Twice daily the bell rings for public prayer in this large area of modern housing. We joined in a blessing prayer on the neighbourhood. I visited the Bowthorpe Wood Workshops, a wonderful team of staff and placements with learning challenges, who make products for the godly play movement. I spent half a day with the church's team leader Rev Mark Elvin. He has set up a time line in the church. He believes they need to know the God-shaping events in the church's thirty year journey in order to discern the God-directions for the present phase of that journey. I accompanied him to Saint Michael's Church School, of which I was a founding Governor. What a joy to see so much advance in its eco-stewardship and learning resources. On various walls the four patron saints of UK were painted. Half way up the stairs was a prayer corner. On another wall were inscribed these words of Aristotle: 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.'

Twelve Community of Aidan and Hilda members met at another pub by the Broads (at Thurne) for a delicious evening meal. We walked beside the Broad and into a modern Methodist chapel for a Night Prayer led by Ruth Brandon, an Orthodox Christian. Often, often, often comes the Christ in the guise of another.

Posted at 05:29am on 10th July 2014
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