Full of Expectation

August 16, 2021
Full of Expectation

Impressions on ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Full of Expectation

Source: Christian Commonwealth, Vol. 31, 20 Sept. 1911, front page

The Christian Commonwealth was a weekly newspaper published every Wednesday. It was started in 1881 and had a very liberal outlook. [At] Archdeacon Wilberforce, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the Sunday congregation at St John’s, Westminster. …details were given in the {Christian Commonwealth}:, entitled ‘The Vanishing of the Veil’, about ‘Abdu’lBahá’s visit to St John’s, Westminster.

………. Eighteen months ago Archdeacon Wilberforce, who had been watching the Bahai movement for some time with interest, sent a message to Abdu’l-Baha. ‘We are all one,’ he said, ‘there, behind the veil.’ And Abdu’l-Baha replied from his home in ‘Akka, ‘Tell him the veil is very thin, and it will vanish quite.’

………. All who were present in St John’s, Westminster, last Sunday evening, could not fail to realise that the veil was vanishing. Archdeacon Wilberforce’s beautiful intercessory service was a means to that end. He asked that each one in the vast congregation should at that time put away all selfish thought and use all energy in prayer for those in trouble…

………. Then Dr Wilberforce told of the teacher — ‘Master’ he called him — who had come to London to emphasise unity, and who was present that evening at St John’s to proclaim the meaning of it. ‘Whatever our views,’ the Archdeacon said, ‘we shall, I am sure, unite in welcoming a man who has been for forty years a prisoner for the cause of brotherhood and love.’

………. Abdu’l-Baha is not an orator or even a preacher, but, in view of all he stands for, we are keenly interested in everything he has to say.

………. Full of expectation, the congregation waited when the Archdeacon for a brief moment left the church. Divested of his white surplice, he returned with Abdu’l-Baha. All eyes were fixed on the leader of the Bahai movement. In his customary Eastern robe and head-dress, walking hand in hand with a leader of the West, it did indeed seem that the veil was vanishing.

………. Down the aisle they passed to the bishop’s chair, which had been placed in front of the altar for Abdu’l-Baha. Standing at the lectern, Archdeacon Wilberforce introduced the ‘wonderful’ visitor. He told of his life in prison, of his sufferings and bravery, of his self-sacrifice, of his clear and shining faith. He voiced his own belief that religion is one, as God is love.

………. Then Abdu’l-Baha rose. Speaking very clearly, with wonderful intonations in his voice and using his hands freely, it seemed to those who listened almost as if they grasped his meaning, though he spoke in Persian. When he had finished, Archdeacon Wilberforce read the translation of his address.

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