At some times, in Parish life, our focus seems to be on buildings.
At St. John’s this week, I have been having conversations about the renovation of our sacristy. This very necessary work is long overdue, as the cupboards are very old, dusty and dirty, and this is a central and important place in a church, where the preparations are made for our Holy Communion services and Baptisms. It is where all our precious vessels –the chalices and patens, the linens and the robes, and the candles are stored. It is also where our wonderful flower arrangers begin their work each week.
We need this vital part of our church to be clean and neat, so I am grateful that the Parish Council have set aside some funds to achieve this over the next few months.
St. John’s is a National Trust building, and was built at a time when attitudes to foundations were very different. In recent years we have had to do considerable work to address cracks in the walls, due to inadequate foundations. This is an ongoing problem, and we will soon have some more work to do, as some cracks have appeared in places where they have not been dealt with before.
At St. Mark’s, of course, the extensive Building Project is actually nearing completion. We can see almost daily changes, as the final stages are achieved. Very soon we will have a completely renovated plant, with up-to-date facilities for all, and plenty of room for our ministry in and to this community. Plans for St. Mark’s House are also forging ahead, and we hope to see that project begin very soon, too.
How deeply meaningful, therefore, are the words of our reading from the first letter to Peter, this morning?
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
It reminds me powerfully that we are to be the stones which build the church – it’s not really about buildings at all – they are just the vehicles of our ministry. I have always loved the beautiful song: “Christ Be Our Light” by Bernadette Farrell – and this reading is portrayed well in the verse which goes:
“Longing for shelter, people are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
Walls made of living stone.”
This is my prayer for this week – that we can begin to see ourselves – each member of our parish – as living stones, built into a spiritual house. Though we may be rejected by the world – by mortals – we are chosen and precious in God’s sight. How inspiring!