Roots Down, Branches Out

Lassie and the Vandals

This half term I agreed to look after a friend’s puppy while they went on holiday. I didn’t realise that the puppy was not completely housetrained, and unfortunately, anything she had learned was promptly forgotten in the stress of her temporary relocation. Lassie has also developed a tenacious attachment to my shoelaces, clothes, fingers and anything she can get her teeth into, so it’s been a difficult week. But this morning as I wondered wearily what to write about today, I suddenly realised she might just be role playing: maybe Lassie thinks my kitchen is Rome, and she’s Genseric, leader of the Vandals, who attacked Rome on this day in 455AD! The Vandals were a loose allegiance of Germanic tribes who originated in southern Scandinavia and seem to have settled in Silesia in modern-day Poland around 120BC: the name “Vandal” may well be related to our verb “to wander”. They continued on the move, crossing the frozen Rhine in 406AD, before making their way through Gaul and the Iberian peninsula, attacking and pillaging as they went. By about 430AD they were settled in Carthage and North Africa. From here they looted the coasts of the eastern and western Roman Empire: they mounted frequent raids throughout the Mediterranean, which even came to be known in Old English as Wendelsae (“sea of the Vandals”). Diplomatic efforts at peace came to naught, and so in the early summer heat on June 2 455AD Genseric led the Vandals to begin the Sack of Rome. For two whole weeks the Vandals plundered the city of its treasures (hence the modern term “vandalism”); they also kidnapped the empress and countless other Romans before leaving with their spoils, although they did refrain from burning down the entire city. The Roman Empire finally fell a few years later in 476, while the Vandals too were ultimately defeated and absorbed into the Byzantine Empire in 534. Now, young Lassie is no ravaging tribe, even if she is as persistent as the Vandals, but the plundering and vandalism here will soon come to an end, and Rome, a.k.a. my kitchen, will be left in peace, albeit a bit battered and bruised. So meanwhile, as we rug up for the rest of the week, it’s the perfect time to end on a much happier note – with the latest news from Christ Church!

THIS SUNDAY, JUNE 5 …
** 9am and 11am: Holy Communion; with pop-up Credit Union stall after both morning services as part of Credit Union Month
** 6.30pm: Evening Worship

AND COMING UP …
** This Saturday, June 4, 7.30pm: Peacebuilding and Bach. The brilliant Rev Donald Reeves will talk about his experiences as a peacebuilder in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, interspersed with some short organ pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, whose music has sustained him during his exhausting efforts. No need to book for this free event; there will be a voluntary retiring collection for Donald’s work. “Inspired and inspiring – true food for the soul.” Do come; bring your friends.
** Wednesday, June 8: Next Highbury Lunch Club for any and all over-60s.
** Friday, June 10, 8pm: Eclectic Voices’ 25th anniversary concert, St Pancras Church, Euston
** Sunday, June 12: Garden party after the 11am service to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Can you bake some scones? See Michelle for details.
** Monday, June 20, 9.30-1.45: Biblical lecture on Ancient Israel, early Christianity, the lost Gospels, at Westminster Cathedral. See Tania for details.
** We need more helpers to research Highbury themes for the Heritage Project – lots of support available! Please see Janet or Evelyn.
** Non-perishable or cash donations for Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants always welcome: see Christine O’Brien.