A summer’s evening with the Company of Servers
The London & Southwark Chapters of the Company of Servers gathered recently, on a glorious summer evening, at St Saviour’s Pimlico, for its Summer Festival meeting.
The cool interior of the church was a perfect setting for the service of Choral Evensong and Benediction, which has become something of a tradition at this time of year. Together, with the Companions from the CoS Southwark Chapter, they continue its joint venture with whom they have been collaborating for the past 18 months. There is a general feeling that although the two dioceses are separated by the River Thames, they are all ‘Londoners’ together and there is much they can offer each other by mutual support and co-operation.
Those present, were very privileged to welcome Bishop David Hamid, Suffragan Bishop of Europe, as their preacher. Opening his sermon with the ancient antiphon from the service of Compline, “Preserve us, O Lord, waking, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace”. Bishop David spoke further of ‘sleep’ and the dangers of falling asleep in inappropriate places – he has even known sleep to overcome a Bishop presiding at the Eucharist!
He reminded the worshippers that as servers there is have no excuse for drowsiness because they are privileged to be where the action is, but being awake at the altar is only part of our ministry – we need to be aware of the ‘Liturgy after the Liturgy’ as the Orthodox call it. ‘The Liturgy within the Liturgy’ nourishes us to go out and witness to the Risen Christ in the world – these two conjoined liturgies are like two sides of the same coin.
In Bishop David’s words:
“The ministry of a server is to contribute to the liturgy in processions, in preparing the altar, in censing the people, in bearing the lights, in such a way, with your energy, grace and competence, that it helps the community to celebrate and recognise these visible signs of God’s love”.
He reminded the listeners, they must not stop there, in that they must share that same love of God with the world. The love of God and of one’s neighbour are inseparable, which is why they are one commandment. So, in conclusion, Bp David reminded everyone that servers are much more than simple ‘helpers of the parish priest’, above all they are servers of Jesus Christ.
The ministry of Serving permits all to become ‘close friends of Jesus’ and as all leave church each week, they must take forward this privilege with zeal to cultivate this friendship ever more deeply by finding Him in our neighbour’s heart, and on the altar of the outside world.
Bp David set an inspirational challenge for all of us to which, with God’s grace, we can hopefully aspire.
Following the service, everyone gathered to network and mingle over drinks, and they were joined by the Company’s former Chaplain General, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark. Whilst networking, they had an excellent supper kindly donated by one of the London Companions, Stephen Chamberlain on behalf of Saint Laurence’s Larder, a homeless person support group and drop in. At this point, the joint-chapters had a short talk on how this great charity is serving on the altar of the outside world, just as Bp David suggested, by providing food and companionship for those who struggle to make ends meet in the capital.
The Company of Servers is for all who are servers in the Anglican Communion, and membership is open to all ages, from the youngest, newest server, to those who have dedicated many years’ service. Members are known as Companions and become part of a national and international community of friendship, teaching, learning and support. Companions are worshippers and evangelists and offers an understanding of worship and liturgy—teaching while encouraging the development of the person both practically and spiritually.
Throughout the year, individual Chapters in each diocese organise their own training days, worship, meetings and activities. Companions are encouraged to take an active part in the Company which provides opportunities for all age groups and understands the levels of commitment to those who serve can offer. Families and friends are welcomed to open events.
The next meeting will be held on Saturday 3 November at St Saviour’s, Pimlico when they will be holding a Servers’ Workshop. For further details see the Company of Servers’ website or contact the London Chapter Secretary, Alastair Knott using firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, we also reported on a team of youth servers attending the national pilgrimage to Walsingham.