Many of us felt that the closing of the rural churches in our small towns and villages was something that was unnecessary and lacked a full understanding of the place of our buildings in the life of the community. But, now they are open again.
This pandemic has made me think deeply about the place of the church in our communities and its role in the rebuilding of our common lives. As I went round and gave them all a good root tidy and clean up ready for the wonderful church cleaners and flowers arrangers to safely enter and make them beautiful. I was deeply moved by the stability and grounded nature of the spirituality that they bare witness to. Human lives have changed dramatically around them; our meaning, as living breathing people, has changed on the surface and in our day to day existence. From the Normans who built Brading church to the Victorians that built in Seaview human history is documented, the ‘progress’ of our western society to this the pinnacle of opulence written in their walls.
But some things just don’t change …. EVER. The human need for a place to celebrate and mourn, the relentless seeking after meaning and the desire to help others, are all raising to the surface, emerging from a culture swamped by greedy quick fixes and easy answers.
To a world looking for deeper answers I say come with us for we are ‘followers of the way’ (as the first disciples were called). Our churches sole purpose is the remembrance of a man called Jesus who told us of the primary importance of every life and of all life. A man whose teaching on justice and human well-being is unsurpassed. A man who inspired a movement for peace and reconciliation, for simplicity and Joy that has never quite been swamped by the corrupt power of Christendom and the establishment created in His name. Like the first followers we say that he has not died but lives on through us in spirit; our lifes work is to strive to live the love of ourselves, our neighbours and our enemies that he taught us was the Love of God.
So we throw open the Doors … literally and metaphorically and say Welcome; to all from every strata of society, every creed and colour, every expression of loving relationship and gender, young and old, ‘sinner and saint’! These churches, graveyards and gardens are tended for you.
We are here… A place of stillness and contemplation; as we listen in the ‘sound of utter silence’ for the guidance of Gods spirit deep within us.
We are here….. Standing in the graveyard honouring a life that has passed as the birds sing and the grass grows beneath our feet; the relentlessness gift of life calls us to lift our heads in the midst of grief.
We are here…. working for Global enviromental justice as we learn to tend our own God given patch of earth and tread lightly on the precious lives of others.