Every Wednesday up at Stubbings, we hold a Holy Communion service at 11.30am, using words Laken from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes there are only four or five of us there, sometimes 10 or a dozen, and more if there is a 'Young at Heart' lunch immediately following! Once a month our organist joins us and we sing some traditional hymns, but normally the service is said only - a quiet oasis in a busy week.
Old and wise advice
This week the first Bible reading at the 11.30 service was taken from St Paul's letter to the Romans. There, in a few succinct phrases, the apostle gives some guidelines on how a Christian community should be. Indeed, much of it is excellent advice for any Community.
Essentially he makes three points. Firstly, that everyone will have differ ent gifts and abilities and should use them for the benefit of the community. Secondly, we should all uphold and honour one another without any hint of deception. And, finally, we should empathise with one another: 'Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.'
Dwelling on the deep
The language the Book of Common Prayer uses, although from an earlier time, resonates with me. It seems to have real depth and to bear mature thought. Here are a few phrases from the passage:
*He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity *Cleave to that which is good
* Be kindly affectioned to one another
...in honour prefer one another
* Be not slothful in business, be fervent in spirit *Be rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation
* Be of the same mind one towards Another
By the time you read this, we will be approaching the season of Lent; the season that leads up to Easter; a time of reflection and self-examination. We would do well, as part of our observance of that season, to enable Paul's timeless advice to echo across the centuries, allowing the rich phrasing of the old book to settle in our minds and influence our speech and our actions.