This month I am in the process of reflecting on the last 3 years of my curacy. I cannot believe how fast time has gone and I struggle to remember the time BGB (before Great Budworth)
I remember my first Sunday, opening the large wooden door and peering in, with a feeling of apprehension and awe. No one can come into our building and not be struck by its beauty. Besides not being able to be with people, I have found the closure of the building hardest to bear over the past 3 months.
Some of my happiest moments of the last 3 years have been within its walls. From being with reception children during praise and play, to leading 8am Prayer Book communion by candlelight during a power cut, to feeling overwhelmed to realise that I was the first woman to preside at Holy Communion within its walls on Christmas Eve, to holding a precious baby that we had prayed so hard about.
I fully appreciate that the church is way more than the building, we are church wherever we are. But as a church we need to meet. We assemble round a table and break bread together. We hug, we shake hands, we listen to each other and we love each other. We are community. We are family and we need to be there for each other.
Our building is part of our mission. When people visit our church they cannot fail to experience something of God, either through the architecture, the windows, the walls that have been soaked in prayer – a holy place.
My neighbour once went into a plain church, saw the cross on the wall and was immediately overwhelmed by what Jesus had done from him, that he became a Christian. No words needed. Reverend Richard Coles said that he had entered a church as tourist and had left as a pilgrim. Buildings sometimes speak of the Gospel far more eloquently than us mortals.
If you go into church for prayer, look at the East Window above the altar, that window explains our faith more comprehensively than any three point sermon
With the art exhibitions we have had in church we have engaged with people who would not usually darken our doors. With concerts and special services we get to welcome people, who will hopefully see something in our lives that cause them to wonder.
If I had to choose one occasion of my curacy that will never leave me that would be the night the Osiligi Masaii Warriors came. To me it was a very foretaste of heaven. They were breathtaking in their faith, their song and dance and sheer joy of life but it was the people who came who made my heart sing. We had Julian and Tracey Wright, still in their finery following their wedding blessing, mums from Praise and Play who had brought their partners for a “date night,” children who had seen the Warriors in the afternoon pulling their parents into church with such excitement, all ages in church.
One of my favourite Christian songs is by Stuart Townend and it is called Vagabonds. These are the words
Come, all you vagabonds, Come all you ‘don’t belongs’, winners and losers, Come, people like me.
Come all you travellers tired from the journey, come wait a while, stay a while, welcomed you’ll be.
Come all you questioners looking for answers, and searching for reasons and sense in it all;
Come all you fallen, and come all you broken, find strength for your body and food for your soul.
Come to the feast, there is room at the table. Come let us meet in this place. With the King of all kindness who welcomes us in, with the wonder of love and the power of grace.
Come those who worry‘ bout houses and money, and all those who don’t have a care in the world;
From every station and orientation, the helpless, the hopeless, the young and the old.
Come all believers and dreamers and schemers, and come all you restless just searching for home;
Movers and shakers and givers and takers, the happy, the sad and the lost and alone.
Come self-sufficient with wearied ambition, and come those who feel at the end of the road.
I cannot wait for us to be able to give that welcome again – with the wonder of love and the power of Grace..........and hugging like you`ll never let go