Thought for the Month (August 2012)

Many years ago when I was in Mrs Schofield's class in St. Peter's School she taught us lots of songs from a red song book called The National Song Book. One was "The Vicar of Bray" and she taught us lots of history because of the song. When a Catholic king was on the throne, the Vicar of Bray was a good Catholic priest, but when an ardent Protestant was on the throne, the vicar quickly became a Protestant. Henry VIII has a lot to answer for! The ordinary Christian in church was required to follow the King's decree.

St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24th 1662 is a special date for us non-Conformists. On that day, 2,000 dissenting ministers and university lecturers were ejected from their livings because they refused to comply with the government's Act of Uniformity. They were quite clear that they wanted to worship God in a way that seemed good and right to them. So these 2,000 leaders were suddenly ejected for their faith and lost their income. Other Christians felt the same, and he Independents came into being. These became the Congregationalists who in the 1970's united with Presbyterians to become the United Reformed Church. So those worshippers who rejected the Act of Uniformity are our predecessors, and we are all Nonconformists. I am very proud to be a Nonconformist, having begun life as a baptised Anglican.

In our present Church climate, we Nonconformists have a lot to offer to the worship of God in the world. We must rejoice in it.

So 1662 was a famous year!

The Book of Common Prayer was published.

The Great Ejectment happened on St. Bartholomew's Day

On August 24th, St. Bartholomew's Day, from 1133 to 1855, there was a huge fair in Smithfield, which at one time was the largest Cloth Fair in the kingdom and a great occasion for buying and selling and also for general enjoyment by Londoners. This fair was started by Rahere, the founder of the famous hospital known as "Bart's". When Rahere was on a pilgrimage to Rome, he became ill and made a vow that if he got well he would build a hospital. St. Bartholomew appeared to him in a vision and told him to build the hospital in Smithfield. Rahere died in 1144.

Here ends the history lesson but three cheers for St. Bartholomew, and his Day.

Audrey Mitchell

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church