Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum – Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is : brethren, to dwell together in unity. So begins Psalm 133 in the Prayer Book. When I was at seminary, I discovered that it was possible to sing these Latin words to the tune of the famous tenor aria La Donna è mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto. We had a team system at seminary for daily chores, a total of four teams. One was on washing up and doing the pots, another on serving in the refectory, a third doing general cleaning and tidying each day, and the fourth had its week off. We were six in each team, and we would sing Ecce quam bonum raucously as we shoved the stuff through the industrial dishwasher and four of us dried dishes with great speed and dexterity and put them onto the serving trolley for the next meal. Liturgically, this psalm is sung at Vespers on a Wednesday, and an occasional smile would show itself as we intoned it, this time, in Gregorian chant. I saw little of the bonhomie, since I was generally at the organ to accompany the Office.
A Diocesan Synod is something to celebrate and look forward to. It isn’t a boring meeting like others, but is a spiritual occasion when the community meets together. As Fr Jonathan Munn wrote in his article on this theme – Summons to celebrate – it is a privilege to be called by our Bishop to do our duty, to be there and contribute to our life as a spiritual family. I too have received my summons in the official form used in our Church and Diocese. I have already bought my ferry ticket, and I’ll go and spend a few days with my father before returning to London for the Synod to take place on 3rd May at Central Hall Westminster. Indeed, it is a summons and not an invitation, because we clergy are needed to perform our duties of helping our Bishop to run the Diocese and make the right decisions. Duties are not always painful, but can be fulfilling to perform, because we are serving a cause above and outside ourselves. I feel exactly as Fr Jonathan does.
I offer this article as a prayer intention, for our Diocesan family needs prayers and God’s grace, not only to stay together in unity, but also to find the goodness and joy of living together as brethren in the Lord.