Queen's counsel II
Although term starts with an introductory weekend at the Queen’s Foundation, the welcome preceded it by a considerable time. I was offered the place for training back in January subject to recommendation by Bishop Keith and I accepted it provisionally on those terms straightaway. When I heard from the diocese that I had been accepted just before going on holiday to Scotland in July, I wrote to Queen’s to confirm that I would be taking up my place. On my return was the welcome letter together with some preliminary exercises and the inevitable reading list.
The Course that I will be following at Queen’s, as described on its web-site, “… endeavours to be a worshipping and learning community that enables the formation and training of individuals for ministry, ordained and lay. In this sense the Course rapidly becomes a distinctive community composed of the staff and the three year-groups. But like any community, it has a larger community context that must be appropriately recognized and included….”
This reminded me a little of the community that has grown up again recently at Little Gidding around the old farmhouse there. According to their prayer book, they have developed a simple yet brief rule of life and they reinforce this whenever they come together to worship and pray. However, they are continually challenged, as perhaps we all are, to distinguish those things that are essential to their corporate life as Christians from those which are not. Their vision is to integrate their faith into all aspects of their lives and especially at work – for this reason, they are known as the Community of Christ the Sower.
The inspiration for this small community comes from two remarkable Christian men from the early seventeenth century. Nicholas Ferrar, who was a successful merchant and politician, formed the original community at Little Gidding. He gained much support from George Herbert who was vicar of a small parish five miles away and whose poetry and hymns are still popular today.
T.S.Eliot also homed in on insights that he saw within these communities when he wrote in the quartet that bears the name of this little village:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And so, with the community at Little Gidding, let us pray
that we may be seeds of Christ’s kingdom on earth and commit ourselves anew to
one another as fellow disciples of Christ, worshipping him together in prayer
and in action.