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Hallo again to all.

Recently we had the opportunity to attend an after-service reception at a church we were visiting.

Entering the parish hall, we drifted towards the tables where drinks were being served. Friendly, helpful bodies were serving hot drinks at one table and cold drinks at another. But it was the coffee & tea service that caught our eye.

The table featured a troop of bright red mugs neatly laid out in rows. The mugs sported the logo and name of the parish. It was a nice change from the polystyrene and paper cups we are accustomed to seeing at community gatherings. And they exuded a sense of welcome. Those mugs were inviting us to cradle one in our hands. We took them up on the offer and carried away a steaming mug of tea.

Was it subconscious? The warmth of the mug gave off a sense of permanence and belonging: we might be a visitor here today, but those mugs had been used here before and would be used here again at the next coffee hour or reception. They belonged. And, by extension, we belonged to their community – even if only for a day. With the mug as our shield against reticence, we found ourselves speaking to others at the reception, meeting more people than we can possibly remember by name. We definitely felt they weren't strangers and that they didn't see us as one either. We would have asked to purchase a mug to support the parish had the circumstances allowed, but we satisfied ourselves with a photograph instead.

Arriving home, we took stock of our own mug collection. We have mugs from our travels and conferences we have attended, mugs from our local farm featuring different members of the farm's livestock, mugs our children have given us, and one mug from a parish we visited. Each decorated mug brought to mind a place, a person, a story. But there was one mug not in the cupboard. We didn't find our mug sporting the Anglicans Online gryphon. Being a virtual community existing in the ether leaves us without a parish hall in which to meet. But we do have a mug! And each time we use our AO mug, we are reminded of the large, vibrant community of readers that are the Communion of Anglicans online.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
In him meet South and North,
All Christly souls are one in him,
Throughout the whole wide earth.

We shall be replacing our AO mug posthaste. Chin-chin!

See you next week. And if you have a favorite mug, please write and tell us its story. We would enjoy hearing how it found itself in your cupboard.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

2 March 2014

P.S. Just as we look forward to your letters to us, this week we've written you a special Letter from the Editors.

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