Saturday 14th April saw two distinctly different activities proposed for our parishoners. People had to choose which one they wanted to go to and there were between 55 and 60 participants overall, proving, if necessary, just what a vibrant community we are. Thanks of course to the enthusiasm of participating parishoners!
Some of us left the confines of Geneva and with help from Roy Damary, Dorinda led a group of 26 to the small town of L’Isle in the Jura. There is the sweetest little castle there – a matchbox Versailles. We learned about two quite different periods of history and two quite different people. The first was a protestant Swiss Guard who worked at the court of Louis XIV and stayed on, despite the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. There will be more on this in the Newsletter.
The second notable person was Pastor Jean de Léry. He was interested in the Reform and travelled to Geneva to learn more. There, he was asked to go to Brazil to preach the Reform. However, when he got there, he found himself on an island in the bay just opposite Rio de Janeiro and the person in charge was a despot who wouldn’t let anybody leave! Not so, thought Jean, and managed to escape. He found refuge with various tribes in the rainforest. He became fascinated by their way of life, noted down everything and made lots of drawings. He got back to Geneva after many adventures, became a pastor of the Reformed Church and was sent back to L’Isle to be the pastor, and there he remained until he died. One of the things which he found rather curious was that the rainforest people walked about in the nude. However, when the women did put on skirts and things, he found them much more attractive. How could this be? And also, after Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden, people began to wear clothes and hide their nudity. How come, asked Jean, did these rainforest people not know about this? He decided not to preach the reform to them as he felt it would not have been appropriate. However, back in Europe, his writings and drawings laid the foundations of modern ethnology.
See what the attendees thought about the day:
“Our large group enjoyed discovering a mini-Versailles. It was a perfect, relaxed day out in agreeable company – ubiquitous Swiss cows enjoying the warmth in endless green fields, connecting trains and fabulous mountain views. There is also one of the finest Patisseries in Swiss Romande at L’Isle, in deepest Vaud.” – Valerie O.
Those of us who stayed behind for a morning workshop were equally enthralled. As usual, Clare Amos did not disappoint those of us, around 30 people, who came to the latest in her Saturday morning Bible Studies. Appropriately enough for Eastertide, Clare looked at the very important role that women have in the accounts of the resurrection within the four Gospels. In particular, Mary Magdalene appears in all four of the Gospels. Later on she was described as the ‘apostle to the apostles’ which shows how significant she was. Even the potentially misogynist St Jerome had some nice things to say about her speaking of her ‘earnestness and strength of faith.’
It was fascinating to hear Clare’s analysis of the way in which the different Evangelists tell us about the role of women – some positively, though others rather more negatively.
This area of biblical study is clearly one that interests Clare a great deal and it was a privilege to be able to share her enthusiasm for these texts and to discover so many new insights which she shared with us in the course of three short hours. Many many thanks to her, as always!