Rule of St. Nicholas

Living Hopefully 

A Way of  Christian Discipleship

  

 “Many were baptized and were added to the community.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, 

to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

– Acts 2.41f- a description of the Way of Life of the first Christian Church.

 


Since  Pentecost 2007 many of us who make up the Community of St. Nicholas in its ancient parish Church have lived by a simple “way of discipleship.”.

This “Way” is based on the ancient spiritual traditions of the Church and provides a simple “check-list” for us to commit ourselves to following Christ and serving Him.  Every one of us will commit to different ways. Some  manage  to be at Eucharist every Sunday and also on Tuesdays and Thursdays; others  know that a commitment to one regular midweek Eucharist is all they can do; others again will be able to join in with our daily times of prayer or our monthly “Time to Pray”. It may be that you commit yourself to “being at Eucharist once every week” but vary the day according to your personal time-table demands.

What matters is two things: first, that each of us grow spiritually, becoming  more faithful to Christ in prayer, service and in sharing the Faith with others; second that together as a whole church community we  maintain the whole round of daily, weekly and annual worship (a demanding commitment for us all) on behalf of parish and wider world, as a witness to all in our parish and as intercession  for them.

Each section offers some possible suggestions for your own “Way” - and then there is a small space for you to make your personal commitment. It may be helpful to talk with one of our clergy or Readers about what is best for you.

1. Praying

Jesus gives us the pattern prayer of the “Our Father”. All God’s people should pray the Our Father  at least morning and evening, thus making the day holy and holding others in God’s love.

 At St. Nicholas we pray Morning Prayer and sing Evensong  on Sundays.  We pray the Daily Office morning and evening, most days of the week. On each first Wednesday of the month we use “Time to Pray”  together with silence,  reflection and intercession. A good number of us use “Time to Pray” at home (or at work) on a daily basis. Many           regularly light prayer candles before the Icon of  Christ Pantocrator. Near the Icon we have a prayer basket in which intercession prayer requests can be placed for some of us to pray through the week. Every Sunday the pew          leaflet contains an “Intercession List” which we can use at home through the week.

 2. Reading the Bible

The Holy Scriptures (both Old and New Testaments) are the way through which we hear Christ speaking to us today. All who follow Christ should know and love the scriptures. Sometimes this can seem very daunting!. We need help, we need a basic reading pattern, we need personal discipline to keep on reading even on those days when God’s Word seems pretty dull or just plain incomprehensible! We also need help to interpret Scripture. As Anglicans we believe that the Bible is the way God speaks to us—but we do not interpret Scripture literally! We reflect together and relate Scripture to what is going on today—for God speaks to us through our daily lives as well. Scripture and the newspaper illuminate each other.

How to read? You  could use the weekly Sunday pew leaflet—the readings for Sunday Eucharist are usually printed there together with references for the following week so you can prepare ahead. You might reflect on a passage each day in the week.

In the Daily Office in church we read  four Bible passages every day. You can buy a copy of the Anglican Lectionary (published annually) and follow one or more of the passages at home each day.

Or you might find it helpful to use the Bible Reading Fellowship notes—easily available through church.

If possible we should also make time for Bible study together so as to understand what the Bible is saying. There are various opportunities for this at St. Nicholas.

3. Worshipping at the Eucharist

The Sunday Eucharist (=“Thanksgiving”) is at the very heart of our life together at St. Nicholas. Jesus gives us a direct command: “Do this”. In  the Eucharist we are fed by Christ to be his people, his Church. We  try to worship at Sunday Eucharist weekly. The Sunday Eucharist is worship we all offer together in Thanksgiving  and in prayer for the parish and wider world. On the third Sunday of each month we usually include Anointing as prayer and blessing for those who are ill or struggling or seeking to grow spiritually. Ideally we all should make every effort to gather together to make Eucharist every Sunday.

Some will be able to gather to make Eucharist on other days too: in church on Tuesdays and  Thursdays, or in other locations (see pew leaflet) on Wednesdays). When we gather midweek we are holding in prayer all those at school, at work, in   hospital etc. as we journey through the week.

4. Commending  the Christian Faith by deed and word

All of us need to grow in the Christian Faith in all its richness. We need to know the Faith not just in our minds but in our hearts and lives. We are called by Jesus to follow him day by day in the way we live and relate to others. Jesus asks each one of us to tell others about God’s love for them. We do this by caring for others –and by having the courage to share the Gospel with others so they can begin to understand why we follow Christ, why we pray, why we “go to Church” . Sometimes we should make a point of inviting others to join us for worship—or simply to come along to one of our church social “do’s”. We should pray regularly for at least one person that they come to know Christ’s love.

5 Giving as generously as God has given to me : time, talents, service and money

God gives us  life, friends and family;  God gives us Jesus; God gives us  the Holy Spirit; God gives us healing and forgiveness; God gives us prayer; God gives us the Church ; God gives us  cooking, painting, music, poetry, sport, books, theatre, TV. God gives  us the ability to work, to make a living, to care for others; God gives  us food and drink, tea and fine wines.  So how are we giving thanks? How are we serving others ? How are we,  through our daily work and living, quietly bearing witness to Christ so that family, friends and neighbours may know God’s love? How are we  using the time God gives us to celebrate God through recreation? through work?

So how can you serve?  Could you help in Christian Aid Week? Or pray daily for the work of St. Oswald’s Hospice? Or support  the Church Urban Fund? Or help the People’s Kitchen ? Or help in our Sunday school? Or sing in one of our choirs? Or serve as crucifer or taperer ? Or help keep our church beautiful as a Holy Duster? Or help make coffee after Eucharist on Sundays and Thursdays? Or assist with the flowers? Or take out invitations at Christmas and Easter?

Remember too that our daily work  - in the workplace, home or school - is a way of service and thanksgiving. For some that may be our best way of Christian service. 

For our church to be here at all we need money. Our giving helps pay for clergy (this is called “parish share”) keeps the roof  on and pays heating bills. The General Synod of the Church of England asks every member to give 5% of their weekly take home pay as a basic minimum. Whether you are a millionaire or only  have only pocket money  you should give generously in thanks to God. Ideally every one of us should be part of our regular weekly envelope giving  scheme (or have a standing order/debit scheme in place) ; we should if possible ensure that all we give is  Gift Aided and we should annually renew the amount we give.

In thanksgiving to God I commit myself to Live Hopefully for  the coming year .