King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee.
And that love may never cease, I will move thee.
Thou has granted my request,
Thou hast heard me;
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou has spared me.
At our community time this evening, I shared two letters with the sisters – one from a young German university student who spent three months with us last spring on an internship from her university, studying English and religion; and the other from her parents who had come to visit for several weeks at the end of her internship in May. We have become lasting friends with all of them, and it warmed my heart to hear news of all three.
And then at Compline (night prayer) which followed our community time, I was filled with tears of gratitude as I listened to the recitation of the psalms and singing of George Herbert’s beautiful hymn “King of Glory, King of Peace” – our prayer and praise shared by an amazingly diverse group of women living together in this Anglican Convent: our five “millennial” Companions living with us this year, who come from all over Canada (Vancouver to Halifax), two of whom have moved here from Austria and Namibia; a sister from the Roman Catholic-Ecumenical Community of Chemin Neuf who is an ordained Mennonite pastor and studying in Toronto; a French sister from the Roman Catholic Xaviere community (named after St. Francis Xavier) living with her community in Toronto and present with us for a weekend retreat; two members of our Novitiate originally from Hong Kong and from the Baptist tradition; a new member of our Novitiate who is a Mennonite; a recently retired Lutheran Pastor and a United Church woman from Vancouver with a Healing Touch practice, both of whom are living with us this year as Alongsiders; and a seminary student doing a supervised placement with us this year. And in another week five of our Oblates will be joining us for Christmas and New Year’s. Imagine what the song of the angels will sound like on Christmas Eve in this magical and holy place.
All this rich diversity of ethnic, language and religious background joining with the more permanent community which is also amazingly diverse in background. Altogether our Household of God here at St. John’s Convent numbers about 30 people ranging in age from 21 to nearly 90. And I haven’t even mentioned the number of visitors who grace our Guest House when they come on retreat, for educational programs, or simply for rest and renewal.
What can possibly make such a diverse community work? We are all disciples and lovers of Jesus, or we are seekers. Lovers and seekers together, we share the love and hospitality offered to one another and to all who visit us. What could be a richer life? How can we possibly be more blessed?
At the end of Compline, after a period of silence, we all stood – Sisters, Alongsiders, Companions, students, guests – and we bowed to each other as is our custom at the end of worship, acknowledging the presence of Christ in one another.
Wherefore with my utmost art, I will sing thee
And the cream of all my heart I will bring thee.
Sister Constance Joanna, Vocations Coordinator