Yea, we know that thou rejoicest
o’er each work of thine;
thou didst ears and hands and voices
for thy praise design;
craftsman’s art and music’s measure
for thy pleasure all combine.
An extract from Fr Robert’s Dedication Festival Sermon:
As when we found some tools and even a cigarette packet in the rafters when renewing the wiring and lighting, this verse also makes me think of the various different craftsmen from not only various generations but also various centuries whose skills and creativity have worked the stone, wood, glass and needlework which form this place and its furnishings.
This year’s major project has obviously been the remodelling of the entrance to our church. Once more craftsman’s arts have been combined to produce a much needed and long overdue excellent addition and improvement to our building. The door and the threshold of a church is a very significant place. When we come through a church door we think ‘Now we’re leaving outside things and walking in’. Outside is the world, beautiful, full of life and activity – but also with much that is ugly and unpleasant. It’s characterized by the frenetic activity of the market place, where everybody is busy, doing things. By contrast when we go through the door of a church we come to something inward, somewhere separated from the market place, somewhere silent and consecrated, a sanctuary. Of course, all is God’s work and he can indeed be encountered everywhere. Yet from the earliest days times mankind has need sacred spaces which are particularly set apart for God.
Therefore as we go through the church door we seek to leave behind us everything which doesn’t belong here: worldly thoughts, cares, vanities. We seek to purify ourselves entering into the sanctuary of God. Hence why we have a Holy Water stoop near the door. So, in the beautifully remodelled entrance let us not run hastily into church but perhaps even, once in while, pause before coming in so that our entry may be a walk of purification and recollection. Let us be ready to say with Jacob: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” This is all summed up so much more succinctly and beautifully by a prayer of Bishop Thomas Ken:
make the door of this house
wide enough to receive all who need human love
and fellowship, and a heavenly Father’s care
and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and hate.
Make it’s threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children, nor to straying feet,
but rugged enough to turn back the tempter’s power:
Make it a gateway to thine eternal kingdom. Amen.
The very next phase is the installation of small kitchenette and toilet. Once more, even in these times of economic restraint we’re going to have to fundraise for another £60,000 in order to ensure that we can install these essential facilities for hospitality and mission. Let us be fervent in praying to the Lord to continue to bless and multiply are efforts in order that we can bring the final phase to a speedy conclusion.