Queen's counsel XVIII
This year at Queens, we have a module entitled Pastoral Liturgy in which we have explored to some depth the various ways that people seek and find personal support through worship in Church. We spent the first session seeking to discern what was meant by the topic title: "pastoral" was, we decided, something to do with healing – being guided, sustained and strengthened in the presence of God.
"Liturgy" is another word for worship, or is it? If you return to their roots, worship has to do with giving worth to something, to explore and to express its meaning. Liturgy, from the Greek, is an act of public service and ministers are those who provide it, rather more general in intent than the way we tend to use the word now. But that's how words evolve.
Recently, much effort has gone into revising the Church of England's liturgical resources and Common Worship provides a number of Pastoral Services (e.g. Healing, Marriage, Baptism and Funerals) for steps along our way where we wish to reflect on God's presence with us. Many relate to transitional periods that we are moving through, some very hard, others that we wish to celebrate and to share with others.
Since the beginning of time, people have wished to respond to the seasonal transitions – Harvest at the end of a fruitful summer gives an opportunity to give thanks, Christmas in the depths of winter brings us joy to help us through the hard times and we are now approaching Candlemas (2nd February), the gateway to Spring, when we hope for new life and growth.
The Church often links with these traditions and marks transitions in ways that bring us close to God. Candlemas is no exception and, following Christmas, how appropriate that we remember the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Mary coming for purification 40 days after the birth and Jesus, as first-born, being offered to the Lord, in accordance with Jewish custom. Saint Luke records this in his Gospel (2:22-40) but the highlights are the effects on Simeon and Anna – both recognise the worth of Jesus and praise God for being drawn in to the celebrations.
So, when we are drawn into another stage of our journey through life, let us pause and consider how we may wish to bring that to worship and also how to minister and share with others on their path.
"Lord, you fulfilled the hope of Simeon and Anna,
This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
This page was last updated on 2002-12-23