Practising Christians - June 18, 2017
In the 14th century men needed to be ready for action, and they needed to keep their skills honed. It didn’t matter whether your name was Archer, Fletcher (arrow-maker), Bowyer (bow-maker) or just Philip. If you were a man aged 14 to 60 you had to practise every week. That was by order of the King, Edward III. Strangely enough the law he made in 1363 has never been repealed, a fact that has gone by largely unnoticed. That may be just as well as there are enough people in prison as it is. So, the chances are, I have probably got away with it.
You are probably no more interested in archery than I am. It’s a medieval pastime that not many of us have gone in for. Though it does make you wonder whether there have been a few arrows fired in Downing Street where things were allegedly very ‘toxic’ last week. I was intrigued to discover that archers used to dip their arrowheads in poison which might explain the connection between bows (toxon in Greek) and toxins. Maybe there are more archers about than I thought.
Jesus once called his disciples together. He called them by name, and he gave them his authority, and a clear sense of what he expected from them. He told them they had a mission to all the world, but they were not to forget the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’. They needed skills of prayer, and faith, patience and discernment - which many might consider a throwback to older times - and they would need to practise those regularly to keep their skills honed. These are the instructions ofanother king, and they too have never been repealed.
It would not be poisoned arrows that the disciples of Jesus were being trained to fire, but a sharp dose of healing where no-one expected it. Your name is still on the list. Keep practising the basics. You never know when the Lord will call you to action.
Matthew 10: 1-2
Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee …………
Lord, I though it might be worth reminding you that I am now past 60, and wondered whether that gave me a dispensation from practice? Clearly not. Amen.