Lesson 50: Two Public-houses in our Street

The first four commandments tell you your duty to God, the last six your duty to the people who live in the world with you (which, of course, is the reason why one wall last week was numbered 4, and the other 6). In The Prayer Book Catechism the ten are followed by “My duty towards God,” and “My duty towards my Neighbour” (neighbour meaning not only those who live next door, or the boys and girls in your class at school, but everybody else in the world). So we will learn about the two together.

But before we go any further it is well to be quite clear that you, I, and every Christian, has these duties. The word “duty” means “something which is due, a debt which must be paid.” We owe things to God and our fellowmen. We owe it to God to worship him in the way he wants to be worshipped. We owe it to other people to be kind, truthful, honest.

It has nothing to do with our feelings or wishes: it is our duty, our debt that we must pay or fail to be good Christians. Sometimes grown-up people who only come to church for their weddings and the baptism of their babies (because they have to), and for their own funerals (because they can’t help it), say to me (but before they get to their funerals!), “Ah! I don’t need to go to church. I worship God” (in Haggerston they often call him Gord, though I’m sure he doesn’t mind) “in my own way. And I don’t do no ’arm to nobody. I keeps meself to meself.” I don’t think they are very good Christians, do you? Read our Lord’s beautifUl story about our duty to God and other people (St. Luke 10, 25 to 37; and never forget the last five words).

In Yorkton Street there are two houses larger than the others. The others are private houses. These are public houses. Each has a sign hanging outside it. One is St. Augustine’s Church; God’s public house for everybody who wants to find and get to know him. The other is The Duke of York; man’s public house for everybody who is thirsty, and wants what I expect your father calls “a spot” (though sometimes he tells your mum he’s “going out to see a man about a dog”). You can think of the coloured swinging boards as

SIGNS OF DUTY TO GOD AND MAN(like the commandments).