We’ve had much to celebrate in recent weeks - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Trooping of the Colour providing spectacular pageants, massed bands, concerts and processions. It feels good to belong to a country such as ours that can 'do' these great occasions so magnificently - everything timed to perfection and executed with a precision that is unmatched elsewhere in the world. The obvious enjoyment of the royal family has been a delight to see and has generated a sense of community that crosses many boundaries.
The Olympic Games will be another celebration of national pride and we hope a successful Olympics will have lasting benefits for sport and community activities. The excitement is building and these next few weeks will be crucial for the Olympic Committee as they make their final plans and engage the nation's support and enthusiasm.
Another anniversary, of a different nature but nevertheless one that needs to be celebrated, is the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Prayer Book. Thomas Cranmer's first Book of Common Prayer in 1549 was considered to be a radical attempt to create a book that gave everyone (not just the clergy) access to the liturgy, because it was written in English rather than Latin. A revision in 1552 and again in 1662 gave us the much loved Prayer Book. A further revision in 1928 gave us the 'up to date version' of the Book of Common Prayer but it was never authorised by parliament.
Both however continue to be used in traditional language churches such as Stubbings and are used in parallel with Common Worship introduced in 2000. Both Common Worship and the BCP provide for the wider spectrum of congregations of most C of E churches.
The advantage of the BCP, in its time, was that it gave the rites of passage and rule of life on a day-to-day basis in one small book. The BCP has a beauty of poetic language which resonates with holiness. The whole of the liturgy is biblically based, using direct quotations from the Bible. Even though it is an ancient book it remains fresh for each and every generation.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to use the BCP Holy Matrimony liturgy at their wedding last year. It speaks to young and old alike with perhaps a different emphasis to modern liturgy. There is something remarkably enduring and to be treasured in the language of the Prayer Book.
Liturgy is something that I have always had a special heart for and I can say in all honesty that I love both the Prayer Book and the more modern Common Worship format. They both draw me to God in their own way and, as I move around the Parish from one format to the other, I can appreciate the nuances of each.
We need both in the church. New members not familiar with the BCP find the language inaccessible and we should provide for their needs by using simple language that is familiar. Although personal preference is important, it is equally important to experience both styles and not to close off and dismiss either one, because in so doing you would be depriving yourself of variety and a richness that is waiting to be discovered or rediscovered.
At the end of August we will be holding a special evensong to commemorate this important anniversary and I commend it to you all. We have more exciting events to look forward to over the summer. Summer lunches, a musical evening and a flower festival will really make this a year of celebration so please join in and help make this a special year for our parish.,