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We went to St. Francis of Assisi, Mt Lavinia, Colombo this Sunday, receiving a warm welcome from Fr. Melvin de Silva. The main Sunday morning service was at 7:30am, but in case you think that is early enough, there was also one at 6am!
But in our case, we followed our normal rhythm getting up at 6am, and got ourselves there at 7:20am to a sparsely filled church. But as service progressed there was a steady inflow of people of all ages. The two teenagers, acting as server and crucifer, sheepishly brought in the Cross 10 or 15mins after the service had begun.
After the service there was the usual tea and chat (we handed mugs of milky sugary tea poured from big jugs). People didn’t disappear, they hung around and chatted in groups all over the church. Then I realised that part of this was due to the various groups; Sunday School, Mothers Union, which started after and a teenage youth group a bit after that, all of which started after church.
It was impressive to hear something of the social witness, and the community life that holds the church so strongly together. One family spoke movingly about how they’d started coming following the welcome their autistic daughter had received. We also heard about the free drop-in medical clinic the church runs, through volunteer doctors who are member of the congregation enabling patients to avoid whole-day visits to hospital.
In the evening we were invited to a talk on a conflict in the Yugoslavia, by a Slovenian writer. Totally surreal, but fascinating, and relevant, more later.