I am one of those people who loves language and words. Recently, I wanted to find out about “collective nouns”. A collective noun is a name given to a collection of things. For example a herd of cows, a murder of crows or a murmuration of starlings. The collective noun that I wanted to discover was a group of clergy. Now, before you start thinking of anything uncharitable, let me put you out of your misery! The closest I could find was a “prudence of vicars”. What I have not discovered is, if this applies to Anglican clergy only or, also to non-conformists.
I had a particular reason for wanting to find this out because today I had a “prudence of vicars” in my home. As chair of our local Churches Together, I invited all the local clergy to my home for lunch.
When I first became a minister, Churches working together was a rare. But over the years this has, thankfully, changed. Instead of glaring at our differences we need to look at what we have in common. I value my friends and colleagues from across the denominations, and I have learnt a lot from the different traditions. As the “prudence of vicars” gathered I found myself reflecting on the words of Psalm 133;
How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!
(Psalm 133 vs. 1- The Message)
But, I believe, these words do not just apply to Churches. I think these words apply to all of us. Maybe, we need to look to the things we have in common with those around us rather than glare at our differences.
I hope it will not be too long before we have another “prudence of vicars” at home. Maybe there is someone that you need to look at differently. In the meantime, I am going to look for my copy of the “white album”….