Though I now live in the SW of France where I have, together with my husband Ian, opened Colomba le Roc; a small spiritual retreat house, I was until 2018 minister in a small rural parish East of Edinburgh.
It was in those years that I was asked to join the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland.
Which is how as a World Mission Council representative I visited different guilds to talk about the Out of Africa into Malta project. This was a particular pleasure for me as my previous ministry had been with refugees in Rotterdam.
For me, working with refugees is above all about offering hospitality.
Now compared to Out of Africa into Malta, the Mamre project of the Scots international Church in Rotterdam was rather small scale, but at the chore of this project was a weekly meal, prepared by volunteers and eaten around one big table (or rather a number of tables put together )
These meals were an opportunity to talk and listen, to share stories: happy ones and sad ones, true ones and imagined ones .... But what touched me most was to see that people from different cultures, different nationalities and different faiths befriended each other. There, around that huge table, barriers were pulled down and we were all just Tesfay, Rima, Shandra, George ...men , women and sometimes children, eating and sharing together. And even though it may just have been for that moment, we were family.
Meals bring people together and whatever your feelings for each other were before sitting down at the table, you cannot be enemies when you share a meal.
Because eating together unites people, the Church of Scotland has encouraged congregations to organise Brexit meals and it is one of the graces written specially for such meals that I would like to share with you:
Loving God, We thank You for hands that labour and prepare, We thank You for minds that dream and plan, We thank You for hearts that hope and break, We thank You for all who come, for all who remain and for all who leave. We thank You that we can dwell together in this place and this time. Help us to always make room at our tables, and bless us all with grace, peace and love, as we find nourishment in Your presence. Amen
May God bless you all
Your new locum Joanne Evans-Boiten
Left: Joanne at the blessing of Colomba le Roc
Above: St Hild’s chapel at Colomba le Roc
Below: For all a place at the table