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Sunday 10th May 2020

Dear Friends,
 
As well as being the Sixth Sunday of Easter, today is also Rogation Sunday. From the Latin Rogare (‘to ask’), it and the next three days preceding Ascension Day were traditionally given over to fasting and prayer for a good harvest and, through the ancient custom of ‘beating the bounds’, to ask God’s protection over one’s parish throughout the year to come. It has been excellent to see a revival of this custom at St Pancras (which, it has to be said, is rather more quickly and safely achieved in the city than in the country) and it reminded me of a similar undertaking in Cambridge some years ago where, upon setting out post-Mass, we made various stations throughout the parish. Prayers were said at each point - incense billowing - by sacred ministers surrounded by a coterie of servers. This proved a rather affecting sight, not least when parked in front of the nearby United Reformed Church, whose congregation seemed somewhat disturbed by the sight of pre-Reformation England appearing at their door during a post-service coffee hour ...
 
In today’s gospel reading, we hear those words about keeping our blessed Saviour’s commandments simply because we love him. Commandments are a little unfashionable at the moment (though most of us seem surprisingly obedient to current governmental instruction) and perhaps that’s because the rise of the individual in modern society has brought with it a sense that we all have some personal truth, or set of values, that is not to be imposed on another. But good Christianity tells us that commandments are imposed not for the primary purpose of restriction, but for liberation: we do not follow them in order simply to be obedient to the letter, as if they were somehow ends in themselves, but that we might receive the Spirit of Truth and so follow in the Way that leads to Life. Beating the bounds, in encompassing the myriad stories of our daily living, is a good reminder that our fervent prayer should always be for the transformation of that living - and of the communities in which we are placed - into the pattern of Christ, who is (thankfully) both our destination and our journey’s end. 
 
I’ve said this before, but there’s something particularly affecting about Thomas Tallis’ own journey of faith, as a Catholic in Protestant England, that doesn’t result in a fatal compromise. One cannot help but believe that he understood intimately, both in a secular and more sacred sense, the words of the following two anthems (one of which we heard in Holy Week). You can listen to both If ye love me and A new commandment By clicking here
 
And, in thanksgiving for God’s good creation, our hymn today is All creatures of our God and King. Listen, and sing along, click here to listen
 
With love,
Simon
 
Our Lady, S.Pancras and all the Saints Pray For Us
Copyright © 2020 Parish of Old St Pancras, All rights reserved.


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