Recently two truly inspiring people died.
One was Jean Vanier (above), who in 1964 was one of the founders of the L’Arche community (taking its name from Noah’s Ark). This Christian community has spread across the world, through establishing homes, programmes and support networks to enable people with learning disabilities to live the fullest and most fulfilling life possible. The premise is that everyone, whatever our disabilities, has the potential to mature into adulthood with the dignity of being their own person, and as a valuable member of community. L’Arche is not run for profit, and is seen as living out the life of Christ, through engaging with all people of other faiths or none. If you haven’t heard of “L’Arche” look it up and be inspired!
The motto of L’Arche is: “Changing the world, one heart at a time!” Even as I read this, I am reminded of Christ’s command to make disciples and also his instruction to simply give a glass of water to the thirsty and food to the hungry. I have always been stumped by the challenge, when faced with an outbreak of malaria, do you cure the sick or drain the swamp that is causing the malaria. When younger, I would have opted for the big solution – getting to the heart of the problem by tackling the social, political and economic mega causes. However, as the years go by, I have seen revolutions and reforms disappoint, run out of resources and ideas or even be corrupted. I now feel it isn’t a choice of big-scale radical change or low key help of victims, and have discovered the power of our Gospel – the power of God’s love to change the world through one person, Jesus Christ.
The second person who has died whom inspired me is Janet Reed, wife of Chris, our former synod clerk. She never held high office, nor initiated huge community schemes. However, she faithfully expressed the love of God in her service to her family, friends, church and community. She helped where it was needed, but always maintained the dignity of the other person, supported them back on their feet and encouraged everyone to contribute to their world. Indeed she was “changing the world, one heart at a time!”
Of Jean and Janet, God says – ‘That’ll do for me. My Kingdom has come!”
Rev Kevin Watson, Yorkshire Synod Moderator