Recently some bottles of beer with interesting names and labels turned up in the sacristy. They were provided by a good son of the Church and gifted to the clergy to mark International Buy a Priest a Beer Day. This Feast Day does not yet appear in the Church Calendar! In my days as Rector of Fountains in North Yorkshire (UK), a near-by parish with a small ancient market town—Masham, pronounced Massam —had a brewery which was one of the surviving exponents at that time of Real Ale. Its hallmark beer was ‘Old Peculier’ (note the spelling). The label on the bottle was a depiction of the 18th century seal of the Peculier of Masham. The history of the Peculier, however, goes back much further.
In the 12th century, the Archbishop of York had established a Peculier Court at Masham, and its senior official or Peculier was the vicar. This ecclesiastical court gave the parish a large degree of autonomy. Probably, for that very reason, only a few peculiers were ever created. The Peculier had the authority, for example, to appoint apothecaries and midwives, and had significant independence from the jurisdiction of the Archbishop. Apparently the word ‘peculier’ is derived from a French word meaning ‘particular’ rather than ‘odd’. I remember, though, as a boy brought up on the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible, being fascinated by a couple of references in the New Testament to the followers of Jesus being called a ‘peculiar people’ (Titus 2: 14 & 1 Peter 2: 9). In more recent versions these are translated as God’s ‘own people’. But it has stirred my mind again to reflect on what it means for us to be the peculiar people of God.
An essential aspect of being God’s own people—as I emphasised not long ago at a Thursday morning Mass—is that we allow love to become the motivating principle of our lives. I added that I believe this is the greatest challenge we will all ever face. Opening ourselves to the compassionate spirit of Christ working within us and through us is nothing less than our part in the ongoing work of redemption. And this kind of love is not some impulsive or emotional reaction, rather it rests on our own deliberate choice. It is a constant commitment of the will.
I have been revisiting some of the writings of Thomas Traherne, and I appreciated his view of being redeemed as ‘recovery of vision, rather than conquest of sin’. Focusing on loving relationships, and loving and concerned actions and attitudes, is a positive way of nurturing a vision and avoids introspective preoccupation with humanity’s frailties and failings. As the Celtic spiritual tradition wisely intimates, we are still immature and striving for completion rather than hopelessly flawed by sin. Let our longing be to grow in love and rejoice that that is what makes us peculiar.
When the evening of this life comes, we shall be judged on love.
S. John of the Cross.
May God bless you all.
Canon Craufurd Murray
- Traffic delays expected along Durham Street, reducing to one lane from tomorrow.
- Michael’s School: Term 4 begins tomorrow.
- Feast of S. Luke: Festive Eucharist Tuesday, 6:00 pm at the Community of the Sacred Name, 300 Tuam Street. Preacher Richard Randerson. Light supper to follow.
- Bible Study Group meets tomorrow, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
- Women’s Fellowship: Tuesday 10:45 am in the lounge. Please bring Christmas gifts for Walsh House. Details Pat Evans email@example.com or phone 358 0127.
- Meditation Group: Tuesday 5:15 pm in lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
- Anglican Care AGM: Tuesday 5:30 pm at S. Peter’s Upper Riccarton.
- Outreach Committee: Tuesday, 7:30 pm in the parish lounge.
- Reverse Greed—Our Water: Rhys Taylor and Tim Davie. Third of four seminars Thursday 5:30 pm at Knox Centre. See poster.
- Strategic Planning for the School: open meeting 26 October, 7:00 pm in the hall.
- Retreat organised by S. Luke’s: to be conducted by Peter Williams at CSN Retreat House, 28 & 29 October. See flyer in lounge.
- New Vicar of Halswell and Prebbleton: Induction of Peter Hurricks, 30 October 7:00 pm at S. Mary’s Halswell. (Peter is John De la Bere’s son-in-law.)
- Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
- Sales Table: Sundays in the hall. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
- Marmalade available on the sales table. Empty jars to the box in the lounge please.
- Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge.
- Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.
All Souls’ Day 2 November: please check the draft lists of
names to be remembered. There is a list for each Mass: please use
the one for the service at which you will be present. Print changes
and put your own name in brackets.