A Travellerspoint blog

MORE OF MOROCCO

A visit during Ramadan

72 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

Rabat’s perch on the Atlantic coast is dominated by the Kasbah, a walled neighborhood of large blue and white stucco houses, also walled. We wandered by their ancient doors, by orange juice vendors, one of whom displayed a photo of Morocco’s beloved King and his family. We looked into pottery shops, as the sea breezes blew across the landscape. Many of the winding streets in the Kasbah look scruffy, in need of paint, but that is just their public face. Inside those doors are fabulous courtyards and grand rooms.

May 7 was the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, so almost no restaurants were open. Our guide asked whether we would like to keep touring or stop for a coffee (she, of course, wouldn’t drink any) before we returned to the ship at FIVE P.M. We pretended to ponder the question and then gently said that we thought we’d like to have lunch. Lunch! ... she took out her cell phone and called around, then announced that she had found a restaurant, but it was a restaurant, not a café, so lunch would take an hour and a half. That was too long, so she suggested stopping at a little snack place on the highway back to Casablanca. We took off, and after half an hour, we pulled into the parking lot of ..... McDonald’s! The golden arches rose over a sign (in French) saying that McDonald’s cannot in any case be held responsible in case of infraction of Ramadan laws. We ate our Big Macs; the guide and driver waited outside.

Back in Casablanca we went to the Hassan II mosque. Built in 1993, it is huge – the largest mosque in Africa. The worship space holds 25,000 and another 80,000 in the surrounding plaza. We think this means 105,000 men – because the women’s gallery, surrounded by lattice, hangs 6 feet above the floor. You can see the gallery in the photo below; what you can’t see is the 200 feet of space above it, rising to a retractable, yes, retractable roof that opens to the skies. Speaking of skies, the mosque’s square minaret (almost 700 feet tall, tallest in the world) holds a laser beam that shines for 36 miles through the night skies to Mecca. A photo from the ship is below.

Finally, we can conclude that Moroccans don’t hang fuzzy dice from their rear view mirrors; they hang fuzzy fezzes.
large_b2486040-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpglarge_8cca23d0-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpglarge_78dafd90-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpglarge_85a4c380-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpglarge_a665ed10-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpglarge_a931de50-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpglarge_9a673e50-730c-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_2b07a080-730d-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_c52372e0-730b-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_8fd4a3b0-730c-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_32e2e350-730d-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_64818650-730d-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_5ef849d0-730d-11e9-9292-49f7508d38ab.jpglarge_8744b7e0-7301-11e9-a56c-0f7f4892ec51.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 03:35 Archived in Morocco Comments (1)

THE JOYS OF MOROCCO

Casablanca and Rabat

sunny 65 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

We have been sailing up the coast of West Africa, stopping at ports in Senegal and Ghana and The Gambia, poor countries whose poverty is in the air and in your face. The region around The Gambia is known as the Smiling Coast, but the people don’t smile much. They and their neighbors are hungry and without much hope that their country can break the cycles of poverty and corruption that beset it. The unemployment rate is colossal in West Africa; enterprising folks can do little more than be bumsters who hassle you to buy their wares.

Today we rounded Africa’s northwestern curve and arrived at Casablanca. We are out of West Africa and what a difference there is!!!! We are relishing, enjoying, and delighting in the marvelous country of Morocco. We expected dunes and camels, maybe some snow topped Atlas mountains, and here we are in a coastal plain with wheat waving in the fields, the Atlantic Ocean sparkling blue, in a city with its own stock exchange and not even a little bit of garbage in the streets. The highways are landscaped with a beautifully designed boulevard of wildflowers blooming in their center strips and carefully arranged plantings on the verges. We have fallen in love with Morocco.

We left Casablanca at nine this morning to travel in a small van to Rabat, the capital city. We had four companions from the ship, one of whom arranged the day perfectly. Our guide was Miriam, a well-educated and kind commentator who introduced us to the country she loves. And so we drove through the countryside and learned Morocco’s complex history; we arrived in Rabat and Hope had her old, old question answered: what is the etymology of the term “rabat” for a clerical vest? Miriam was stumped until she recalled the Arabic word for something tied or attached with a cord: rabat.

We went first to the Presidential Palace which looks almost like a shopping mall (Buckland Hills?) at the edge of a huge parking lot. This is because the open air spaces must be large enough to hold the worshippers who come to the mosque to pray and the patriots who come to presidential speeches, etc. Maybe 80 - 100,000 Moroccans at a time gather there in flat areas surrounded by beautifully landscaped specimen trees. Next we were off to the mausoleum of Mohammed V, father of the beloved current King. The “tomb” is actually rather small, with 4 guards in the corners and 4 guards at each of the doors; their presence fills the place with reverence so it feels far different from a tourist attraction. At the exterior of the site, horsemen mounted on matched pairs of steeds stand watch. The tiles were fabulous – walls, ceilings and floors. The courtyard held 354 12th century pillars open to the sky, symbols of the 354 days in the Koranic calendar.

We heard much about Morocco, about its hallmarks of flexibility and tolerance, about its excellent education for all young people, its fine health care, and the love of its people for their monarch. After West Africa’s chaos and difficulties, we were very very delighted to be here. Tomorrow we will send you news of our afternoon at the Kasbah in Rabat and the mosque in Casablanca.large_1145c640-71dc-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_942ea720-71dc-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_00988f20-71dd-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_3bdb2700-71dd-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_8a6385c0-71dd-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_aee73590-71dd-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_f3212ea0-71dd-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_2e2a18e0-71de-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_36175d10-71de-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpglarge_37340d20-71dd-11e9-aeb4-dfd55787ef4f.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 14:44 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

PHOTO! and WORSHIP

AN African liturgy

sunny 61 °F

The photo below is our worship service this morning, complete with African rhythm instruments and altar cloth - and our Altar Guild and ushers. It was wonderful!

large_94693130-6f41-11e9-87ac-a58573940906.jpg
An African Liturgy. Aboard the Silver Whisper off the coast of West Africa on May 5, 2019

HYMN: Christ is Arisen! Alleluia!

GREETING

The Lord is here.
God’s Spirit is with us.
Let us pray.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads, through the power of your Spirit. Amen.

SONG OF PRAISE

All you big things bless the Lord
Lake Victoria and the Serengeti Plain
Rhinos and hippos
Bless the Lord, praise and extol him forever
All you tiny things bless the Lord.
Black ants and hopping fleas,
Flying locusts and water drops
Bless the Lord, praise and exalt him forever.

Listen to the Good News proclaimed in the Gospel of Saint John
Glory to Christ our Savior.
Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." (10:11-15)

A REFLECTION The Reverend William J. Eakins

Our worship on the Silver Whisper is quite different today. We have hymns from South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, and rhythm instruments of many kinds; the Creed will affirm our belief in “Jesus who was always on safari doing good.” Things are very different from what we are used to, and at the same time, very familiar because all Christians worship the one God and Father of us all who sent Jesus to come among us as a Good Shepherd. “I lay down my life for the sheep,” he said, “...so there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

The flock to which Jesus calls us is not an institution but a community, and living in community is not an easy thing to do. We like the idea of a Good Shepherd who will call us by name, like the Silversea crew. We like having a shepherd who will lay down his life for us, but we don't like being in a flock very much because then we are just part of a herd, and sometimes other members of the flock can get on our nerves. Also some sheep always wander off and then the Good Shepherd leaves ninety-nine of us behind to go and rescue the one who has strayed and bring it home because, he says, sheep belong in a flock.

The early Christians took their flock, their community, very seriously. It was where they prayed and where no one was ever in need because they shared what they had. Christian churches today are still meant to be communities like that, places where people can disagree and can sometimes hurt each other, but stay together because they know they belong to one family.

Our worship together on the Whisper has formed us into a little Christian community. We are a flock, not because we have the same heritage and traditions or agree about everything. What makes us a flock is whose sheep we are. Jesus didn’t say that any particular tradition or doctrine or people were the way, the truth, or the life. He said that HE was and that by following him we become his flock. It means that when we see our brothers and sisters segregated into townships as we did in South Africa or townships anywhere where people are separated by class or gender of race or economic condition, we start working to break down the walls and open the gates because God’s Kingdom is big enough to hold us all. It means that we start sharing what we have because we are only as strong as the weakest of us. It means that we care for the earth because it belongs o everyone. It means that we love each other with all our hearts because ultimately we are all one flock with one Shepherd.

HYMN: If you believe and I believe

THE CREED
We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it.
He created us and wanted us to be happy in the world.
We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know him in the light.
God promised in the Bible, that he would save the world and all the nations and tribes.
We believe that God made good this promise by sending Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh,
a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good,
curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and human beings,
showing the meaning of religion is love.
He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died.
He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him,
and on the third day, he rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.
We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him.
All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God,
live the rules of love and share the bread together in love,
to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again.
We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

THE PRAYERS
Merciful Father, we are your children, hear us as we pray.
Father, you created the heavens and the earth:
grant good rains for our crops and bless the works of our hands.
Father, you created us in your own image:
teach us to honor you in all peoples.
Father, you sent your Son into the world:
reveal him to others through his life in us.
Lord Jesus, you forgave the thief on the cross:
make us people of penitence and reconciliation.
You broke down the walls that divide us:
help us to live in peace and concord.
You taught us through your apostle Paul to pray for kings and rulers:
bless and guide all who are in authority.
You were rich yet became poor for our sake:
move those who have wealth to share it generously with those who have little.
You cured by your healing touch and word:
heal the sick and bless those who minister to them.
You were unjustly condemned:
strengthen our brothers and sisters who suffer injustice and persecution.
You lived as an exile in Egypt:
protect and comfort all refugees and migrant workers.
You knew the love and care of an earthly home:
Defend the orphans and raise up families to shelter them.
You are the Lord of the living and the dead:
open the gates of your kingdom to those who have died.
Holy Spirit, you enlighten and inspire the whole earth:
Fill us and live in us always.
And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us we are bold to say,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.


THE BLESSING

Life is short and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind and may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen

HYMN: We are marching in the light of God
THE DISMISSAL

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The liturgy is a compilation of various South African and Zulu liturgical prayers, modified for this congregation.

Officiants: The Reverend William J. Eakins, The Reverend Hope H. Eakins
Altar Guild: Jane Kline, Directress; Jill Ingham
Music: The Silver Whisper Trio

Expected time of next service on Sunday, May 12 at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 07:14 Archived in Senegal Comments (0)

DAKAR, SENEGAL

and Gorèe Island

sunny 61 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

Dakar, Senegal, is the westernmost point in Africa. Just off the coast lies Gorée Island, a beautiful little spot filled with crumbling ancient pastel buildings and trailing bougainvillea. Gorèe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marked as a center of the Atlantic slave trade, its Door of No Return the last place thousands and thousands of Africans saw as they left their native shores. We took a ferry to this lovely spot and as we approached the harbor saw hundreds of folks on the rocks. The population of Gorée is only about 1600, and most of them were there to greet us – or maybe just to take the next ferry back to Dakar. As we left the ferry, about 50-60 “fairy princesses” lined the long walkways in fancy dresses and pointed hats, as they lined the red carpets that led to out cocktail terrace. We felt just a little over-privileged.

At the reception with grand canapés and champagne, we were heartily greeted by drummers and singers and dancers. The chorus sang Gospel songs in this country that is 92% Muslim! As the sun set, we walked to an old fort where we sat at tables decorated with weavings, musical instruments, and a bowl of peanuts (not roasted and tasting VERY green) and another bowl of cut fruit from the baobab tree (woven through with little red vine strings and tasting of smoked fish). The island’s storyteller recounted the history of the community, and amazing musicians plucked the strings of instruments formed from gourds and sticks. The Afro folk diva, Salla Dieye sang and smiled a lot. Our menu:
Senegalese Giant Shrimp with mango carpaccio, guacamole and grapefruit.
Fillet of Senagalese grouper with ratatouille and potato gratin
Chocolate delight with raspberry coulis.

As we were sailing back to the ship, a fabulous fireworks show bid us farewell.

62cd8200-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpgc9d38540-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpg81b6fad0-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpg66988930-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 07:10 Archived in Senegal Comments (0)

TEMA, GHANA, PORT FOR ACCRA

The power of the community

sunny 82 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

A few years ago Hope, buried a young nurse from Ghana. Because this woman had married a wonderful man in Hope’s parish, she was living in the US – until she died unexpectedly and far too soon. Many of her family came to the funeral from Ghana. Their hearts were broken, but they knew what to do when a loved one dies. Their life in Ghana was a kind of liturgy (which means the work of the people) in itself, a life ordered and supported by the community and by tradition. The Ghanians knew how to say their farewells at the casket, what songs to sing and dances to do; they had a special ablution ceremony and customs to sustain the grieving husband and children and parents-in-law.

On our visit to Tema, we saw where the strong foundations of this “liturgy” came from. We went first to the Palace of the Tribal Chief. This palace sits in the middle of a residential district. Now “residential district” is a gentile euphemism for a terrible slum that extends for miles, with a “residence” consisting of three walls and a flap all covered with a tin sheet. By contrast, the “palace” was therefore astounding: a large stucco building with many rooms, surrounded by a wall and an ornate gate guarded by two lions. It had electricity, fans, and upholstered sofas and chickens scratching in the dirt. We met in the reception hall. The chief was not present as he was in mourning for the death of his son. Ten tribal elders were present on his behalf. These included his linguist (the elder who spoke for the chief and wielded a large gold wand), the chief warrior, the chief fisherman, the historian, etc. Their flip-flops were stunning!

On our behalf, our interpreter (named Elvis) asked permission for us to visit the community. The historian delivered quite a long saga on the tribe's origin in Israel and its move, as a lost tribe of Israel, across the Red Sea and Africa. We obeyed the local etiquette: shake with your right, receive with your left, don’t cross your knees, let the elders speak first. We introduced ourselves, had a ceremonial signing of the book, drank water, received a sculpture given to the ship, and said a prayer for the chief’s son.

Then we visited the Tema Manhean School where the children had assembled in their uniforms even though it was a Sunday. They sang to us, presented a play about baby-naming and then clustered around each of us to practice their English. Bill’s students wanted to know how his hair got white and whether President Trump was really making everyone walk around without clothes. Not everyone had desks in this school; the class size is about 40; books are in short supply, and the students are very eager learners.

Next we went to a fish smoking facility, actually a large area in the midst of the slum housing. Stone fireplaces were buried in the sand, and a large shed held hundreds of racks for the smoking process. This endeavor was managed by Auntie Beauty, an older Ghanian woman who bought the day’s catch of herring, sardines, anchovies, etc., washed them and spread them on racks, put the racks over the fire, turned and turned the fish and rotated the racks, added sugar cane to the fire, and finally produced smoked fish that would keep for a year in a basket. (There are few refrigerators here in Ghana.)

Next door was a gari processing “plant,” another dirt area with stools in a circle. There cassava tubers are peeled, washed, and grated, and the product (gari) toasted. The waste product is tapioca, used to thicken soup. It didn’t look like Kraft pearls.

Throughout these experiences, the people talked of how their forbears had taught them their ways – and how they were passing along the customs, too. Some of their children were choosing other paths, and that seemed to be okay. Some of these traditional “ways’ seemed eminently sensible. Here’s one: tribal leadership. From the beginning, the chief has come from one of four families, who serve in turn. The King serves for life, and when he dies, the King Makers (from another family) assess candidates to see if they have the virtues and character of a King – moral probity, kindness, strength, wisdom, and patience. This process continues so that if each King reigned for 40 years, it would take 160 years for the first family to have another monarch. In the meantime, everyone is focused on being truthful, wise, kind, etc.

Here’s another custom: At an annual spring festival, the songmaker writes texts commending tribal members for their good deeds, contributions, and successes and also condemns the notorious behavior of others. Another: when life gets difficult and the elders have to pray and think, the chief issues a ban on noise, so that people walk quietly, children don't shout, no drums or musical instruments are played. We visited in the middle of a three week noise ban, so the children clapped our welcome instead of singing to us.

large_014813b0-6b74-11e9-8a24-1568c2f4c7c3.jpglarge_6f620620-6e68-11e9-9ba1-9fa0e84f0efd.jpglarge_daa8fdf0-6b73-11e9-8a24-1568c2f4c7c3.jpglarge_e9433e20-6b73-11e9-8a24-1568c2f4c7c3.jpglarge_3403e680-6b74-11e9-8a24-1568c2f4c7c3.jpglarge_fa35c630-6b73-11e9-8a24-1568c2f4c7c3.jpglarge_57506b50-6b73-11e9-8a24-1568c2f4c7c3.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 05:24 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

BANJUL, The Gambia

An assault on the senses

sunny 70 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

In The Gambia, Banjul is the capital city. The country is a small sliver carved out of the country of Senegal and is named after The Gambia River at its center. The whole country is less than 20 miles wide, really just expanded riverbanks. Banjul is its port on the Atlantic.

Like every African city, Banjul has a colorful and frenetic market, this one called the Royal Albert Market. We drove through streets filled with every kind of shop you can imagine, mortgage houses, insurance agencies, banks, stores selling fabric, furniture, and clothing, cell phone repair shops and electrical appliance shops. The distinctive thing is that all of these emporia are little more than sheds covered with tarps. The banks do have four walls and a door. Banjul is not flourishing; one street vendor cut rotten spots out of potatoes and placed the nubs on a tray to be sold. Goats walked in the streets eating garbage, and they have no fear of starvation because garbage overflows. Apparently there is NO trash pickup; people just pour all the waste into the sewer system. Banjul doesn’t smell great.

As soon as one appears in town, clusters of bumsters descend. These young men have highly honed patterns of attaching themselves to visitors and giving gratuitous explanations (rarely accurate) and directions (to go deeper into the huge market and lose one’s way – so that you can be rescued by guess who? The bumster!) It actually seemed logical to us to affiliate with a bumster and then ignore him, thereby preventing the assault of his aspiring competitors. The bottom line is that you cannot walk anyplace without a bumster by your side.

The bumsters also have a reputation for seeking out cougar visitors, older women who could be flattered into a relationship – or even marriage. We once knew a lovely woman from London who got convinced of true love, tied the knot, and never saw her new husband (now the bearer of a British passport) again.

Our bumster led us to St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, where the gardener opened the gates for us. The East window was quite a nice work of English stained glass, flanked by charming Gambian paintings of St. Peter healing the lame man, walking on water with Jesus, etc. The gardener proudly walked us through his attempt to get grass to grow and his topiary specimens of casuarinas “pruned” into a cross and a heart. He also grew some lovely flowers in pots, seen below.

Back at the Silver Whisper, we did not escape bumsters or local buying opportunities. The dock was covered with local vendors selling their carvings and in the distance a ferry on to which hundreds and hundreds of people flowed. We worried about them, in the wake of the ferry that capsized near Principe and killed many.
large_4ac68990-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpglarge_64e601c0-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpglarge_566b7400-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpglarge_5de344a0-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpglarge_4826b160-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpglarge_b5d7dbe0-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpglarge_b661f370-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpglarge_4929a270-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpglarge_1d9e0560-6e5d-11e9-b50b-3b55a969ce9d.jpglarge_7d387790-6e5c-11e9-8ad4-2dcaa9111ffc.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 05:17 Archived in Gambia Comments (0)

WORSHIP AND SERMON

Sunday, April 28, 2019

sunny 88 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper at 5:30 pm on April 28, 2019

HYMN: That Easter Day with joy was bright

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in the darkness for the godly: Grant us in all our doubts and uncertainties to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Reading from the Gospel of John
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (20:19-31)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

Thomas missed Easter. Thomas was the one of Jesus’ twelve apostles who walked away from his community, so he wasn’t there when the risen Christ came into the room. Thomas didn't see Jesus show the nail prints in his hands and in his feet and the wound in his side, and Thomas didn't hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you.” Even when the eleven tried to tell him all about it, tried to tell him that, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas didn’t believe. The evidence was only second hand.

Doubting Thomas, he is called, and Doubting Thomas gets bad press. Most of us prefer people who are sure about what they believe. We don’t want our politicians to waffle on issues. We want friends who say what they mean and mean what they say. The preachers who attract the greatest congregations are those who claim to know exactly what the Bible says. And the Roman Catholic doctrine that the Pope is infallible on matters of faith and morals is very attractive to those who want absolute answers.

But I get nervous about such certainty. I actually like it when a politician says, “Upon due consideration and study, I’ve changed my position on this subject and here’s why.” I get nervous when anyone is so convinced that they are right that they close their minds to considering anything new. I get nervous when any Church claims to know the mind of God without question, because we human beings aren’t smart enough to comprehend the mind of God. I want all of us to have what we Anglicans pray for those who are baptized: an “inquiring and discerning heart.” I want us to ask big questions and look for big answers. I also want us to reognize that God is far too big for us to grasp.

Doubting has been given a bad name, as if it were something that only bad people or weak people do, so when we call someone a Doubting Thomas, we are not paying them a compliment. Yet if we are honest, we know that we all have doubts, and that those doubts are actually a way of deepening our understanding and our faith.

This week, Bill and I watched a ship’s movie called The Theory of Everything. The film is the story of Steven Hawking, world renowned theoretical physicist who first described black holes. Throughout Hawking’s life, he never stopped questioning, doubting, and often rejected his eariy work in favor of new understanding. Another proponent of scientific doubt was held up by Lewis Thomas, the former chancellor of Sloan Kettering Institute, who said, “There’s something badly wrong about how science is taught. We need to look not so much at facts as we do at bewilderment because scientific facts are incomplete. It is only the strangeness of nature that makes science interesting, and science, like poetry, ought to be taught as a sort of moving target.”

Now were Lewis Thomas’s words rephrased to address Doubting Thomas, they would go like this: “There’s something badly wrong about how faith is taught. We need to look not so much at facts as we do at bewilderment because the facts about our gracious God are incomplete. It is only the mystery of God that makes faith exciting, and faith, like poetry, ought to be taught as a sort of moving target.”

The community of faith often seems like the last place to reveal our doubts. The Church often seems like a place where everyone shares a common belief because we proclaim a common Creed. It is not so. If you have doubts, you are not alone. Thomas was not ashamed to bring his doubts to his fellow disciples, and we can and should do the same.

And when we doubt, we should remember this: it was in the pain of Thomas’s doubt that God was revealed to him. Thomas began by thinking that he couldn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection unless he could touch him and see him. "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe," he said. And he didn’t believe. But Thomas stuck with his community and came back to be with them. And when he did, Jesus came to him, and in the end Thomas found the One who was so close to him that he didn't need to reach out and touch him after all.

The Prayers, interspersed with the words of Psalm 111

Risen from the bonds of death, Jesus stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” We pray that Christ’s holy peace may extend throughout our world and within our lives.
Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

Open our minds and hearts to bring a new peace upon this earth, that old hatreds may die and violence and war may cease. We pray for the leaders of the nations and all in authority, remembering those charged with responding to the bombings in Sri Lanka.
God has shown his people the power of his works in giving them the lands of the nations.

Fill us with compassion for our brothers and sisters in need. Heal the sick and pour your blessing upon those who minister to the suffering.
The works of God’s hands are faithfulness and justice; his commandments are sure.

Inspire and guide all teachers and coaches, tutors and advisors. Bless all schools, colleges, and universities that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery and the pursuit of wisdom.
Great are the deeds of the LORD! they are studied by all who delight in them.

Give us reverence for your creation that we may so care for this earth that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty.
God’s work is full of majesty and splendor; his righteousness endures forever.

Shelter and protect all who are in need of refuge: those accused and imprisoned, the homeless and fearful, the mentally ill and the weak, the addicted and those in recovery.
God makes his marvelous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

Be with those who doubt, those who live with uncertainty, those whose faith and hope are weak.
God gives food to those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.

Remembering those who were injured and those who died this week on the ferry Amfitriti, comfort the bereaved; receive those who have died and gone before us into your arms of love.
God sent redemption to his people; he commanded his covenant for ever; holy and awesome is his Name.

Give us grace to acknowledge our sins and seek your forgiveness, always trusting in your mercy.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; those who act accordingly have a good understanding; his praise endures for ever.

Bless those with birthdays and anniversaries this week, remembering David and Una Snell and make us grateful for the signs of fresh hope and new life all around us.
God’s works stand fast for ever and ever, because they are done in truth and equity.

Summing up all our petitions and all our thanksgivings, we pray in the words Jesus taught us
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN: We walk by faith and not by sight

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins and the Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Altar Guild: Directress: Jane Kline, Jill Ingham. Usher: Douglas Kline

Expected time of next service: Sunday, May 5, at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 11:32 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

Takoradi, Ghana

African reality vs. Chamber of Commerce

sunny 90 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

The ship’s Shore Excursion Desk provides information about Takoradi, Ghana; it says, among other things ...

Takoradi... is quickly becoming one of West Africa’s premier tourist destinations. With so many stores to choose from, shopping in Takoradi can be hectic. Top restaurants that will make that shopping very easy include the Garden Mart for general shopping and Dimples Clothing for all your boutique needs.... The Market Circle boasts of offering the best produce in the region.

Well, we went to Takoradi, and we were not tempted to look for one of those top restaurants. We can’t show you the market in full detail because the folks get VERY agitated if you start to take a photo – and we didn’t want to risk offending ANYone. So these “stores” are really plastic mats and little stands on the street. The items the boys in the photo hold on their laps are dried fish, not pineapples, and the scent around them confirms that. There are no carts – most everything is carried on the head. You actually don’t see much because you are so busy looking at the pavement holes and being careful not to fall in. Your ears are also assaulted by street preachers, politicians, and hawkers shouting into microphones – and beggars demanding (not asking for) dollars. The folks are not very friendly. On the good side, this is a real African adventure, not a tourist center. One important feature: there’s minimal garbage on the street. The temperature was about 90.

So we walked all around Market Circle and returned to the ship where friendly merchants had set up their shops shipside. Hope acquired many kente cloth items; Bill bought a kente cloth hat to wear on the ship’s Africa Night. We also got more rhythm instruments for our African service on May 5.
large_f18366a0-68e9-11e9-982e-5564f3281eea.jpglarge_0aec6010-68ea-11e9-8182-457f53567b3e.jpglarge_0af69940-68ea-11e9-ba98-cbcd5a3bda21.jpglarge_0af19030-68ea-11e9-982e-5564f3281eea.jpglarge_1aaca9b0-68ea-11e9-8182-457f53567b3e.jpg

Posted by HopeEakins 05:46 Archived in Ghana Comments (0)

(Entries 41 - 48 of 121) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »