Every knee shall bow
I WAS delighted to read the Revd Lindsay Llewellyn-MacDuff's
account of prayer centred on the Name of Jesus, and recommendation
of the restoration of the feast of the Most Sweet Name of Jesus on
7 August (Faith, 1 August).
This is of particular interest to our Community, since we are
dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. We began as a Sisterhood in
the new parish of St Peter's, Vauxhall (which recently celebrated
its 150th anniversary), and, like many similar communities founded
at that time, we took our dedication from that of the parish
So we might have remained as one of the many Communities of St
Peter; but, when the young Community recognised that its particular
calling was to the work of mission, it seemed appropriate that the
Sisters should be explicitly dedicated to Jesus the Saviour.
With this dedication, we adopted 7 August as our feast of title,
and the date for our main Community celebrations. Cranmer had
pruned many of the medieval feasts, but this was one of those
restored as black-letter days in 1561, since it was a feast of our
Lord. Propers were proposed in 1928, but by the time I entered the
Community, in 1976, the feast seemed completely unknown to the
Church at large; no one could understand why we were so wedded to
this apparently insignificant date.
Modern liturgies offer no propers for 7 August; so we borrow
them from 1 January, which is now known in Common Worship
as the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. But, as Ms
Llewellyn-MacDuff points out, the relevance of the Name is much
wider than this one moment in the life of Jesus.
We should be very glad if this feast could indeed be restored to
general observance in the Church of England - ideally before our
own 150th anniversary next year.
AT THE General Synod this July, we passed the long-awaited
legislation for women bishops. The mood afterwards felt less like
euphoria than exhausted relief - "Thank God it's done at last." But
(though it would have been difficult to grasp this from the secular
media) we did discuss some other subjects as well.
In recent Synod meetings, we have, rightly, given much attention
to the question of safeguarding. In the Church, as in society at
large, we are realising more and more what terrible damage is done
to people who have been abused, even many years ago, and, also, how
effectively it has been concealed for so long.
Our priority must be to do all we can to make sure that churches
are safe places for all, especially for those who are most
vulnerable. But the necessary checks, and the barring of access to
anyone who might possibly present a risk, come at a huge cost to
the mission of the Church.
We want our churches to be welcoming places, where newcomers are
greeted with unsuspicious friendliness, and encouraged to offer
help where it is needed, and where sinners are forgiven. We sing
"All are welcome," but, as guardians of those who need protection,
can we afford to mean it?
I am afraid that this will be on Synod's agenda for a very long
A MORE pleasant topic on the agenda was a presentation about the
launch of the Churches' Mutual Credit Union. Since the banking
crisis, and all the publicity about payday lenders, and the even
more rapacious doorstep lenders, there has been a sense that there
must be a better way for people to manage their finances.
When the Church calls for more ethical financial arrangements,
the standard response has been to suggest that Christians do not
understand "the real world", in which money rules. A proposal such
as this, which does not simply deplore the evils of pursuing profit
at all costs, but offers a workable alternative system, should do
much to restore the Church's reputation in this sphere, and give
hope to those who are suffering from the current
Talents on display
OUR Community has recently been enjoying its annual time of
meeting, discussion, and celebration - centred, of course, on the
feast of the Holy Name. In recent months, we have been feeling more
than a little battered, both by the fact - common to many
communities - that we are an ageing bunch, and also by some
particular health problems that mean life is more of a struggle
One response we have made to this is to assemble an exhibition
of Sisters' creative work: knitting, sewing, drawing, painting,
photography, writing, etc. As we thought further about what might
feature, there arrived a jar of marmalade, and pictures of branch
house gardens. We were amazed at the talents that there are among
us. Perhaps there's life in the old Community yet.
The Revd Sister Rosemary CHN is a nun at the Convent of the
Holy Name in Derby.