Okay, not my best title so far. Perhaps I’ll save it for the title of my autobiography. But you’ll be pleased to know that it means what it says ‘on the tin’: the church building, which we have been barred from for 12 weeks, will be open again from Monday 15th June. Oh, and scones are available, at a virtual afternoon tea on Saturday 27th June – details below!
We’ve seen this last week just how powerful our built heritage can be. The crowd that tore Edward Colston off his pedestal in Bristol. The debate over removing other such statues in Oxford and London, the potential renaming of institutions and buildings. These things are speaking on a deep level to many people – many of us have an instinctive reaction for or against. Buildings, objects and places, names, statues and memorials have a powerful effect on shaping culture and identity. And they are shaped by the culture and identity they emerge from.
It might be said (and some are) that taking down statues or renaming buildings, or removing Little Britain from Netflix and iPlayer is ‘just virtue signalling’ – indeed, what large corporation wants to be boycotted, or Oxford college for that matter? It might be said (and some are) that removing symbols, changing names and adding plaques giving fuller context isn’t really tackling racism and inequality. And clearly on its own it is not enough. But to argue that these things aren’t worth doing as they have no real effect underestimates the power and symbolism of our built heritage. The public buildings, names, spaces and statues we leave behind will say something about our identity, values and culture to future generations – and influence them, for good or ill. So what do we want to say with the built symbols we leave behind?
As a church family, as a village, we recognise this: our building has great symbolic power. I’ve been touched to hear what it has meant to many of you to see the building in our Sunday worship now that I am able record in church. And we’ll find some comfort and inspiration in re-entering the building for individual prayer from next week. It has been shaped by the people who have worshipped, lived and died here for over 800 years. It has been shaped – sometimes unhelpfully – by donors and changing fashions in church layout. In some ways, the only constant over the centuries has been change! Yet amidst change it has remained a constant presence, a visible symbol of Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. In the coming months, we’ll be reflecting on this as a church family and asking how the building can better reflect the culture of welcome, openness and joy we aspire to. A question that has been asked and answered in different ways down the centuries. Now it is our turn.
In the immediate future, when you visit All Saints for individual prayer, you will find some differences because of the coronavirus situation. A one-way system is in operation, from the North porch, round the church to the West door under the tower. Please use the hand sanitizer provided, observe social distancing if others are in the building and don’t touch anything you don’t need to. There are chairs set out if you wish to sit and pray in the side chapels and the chancel, but you will not be able to sit in the pews.
We are living with many changes in church life and in our wider cultural life at the moment. There is not only uncertainty and anxiety, but opportunity and hope too. Change means growth – as God’s people, as human people. We change and grow that we may draw nearer to the heart of the one who never changes: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (Hebrews 13.8).
With my love and prayers for you,
All Saints Vicarage, Corpus Christi, Thursday 11th June 2020
Afternoon Tea Social and Fundraiser Saturday 27th June 4.30pm via Zoom
Scone, jam and cream and a selection of sandwiches delivered to your door
Individual: £10; Couple: £18; Family: £24
To order click HERE or contact Ingrid Allen 01923 268253. If ordering online you will be contacted about dietary requirements. For catering purposes please place your order by Midday Sunday 21st June.
Open Church Hours
Every Day 9.30am – 5pm from Monday 15th June
Please note that as further restrictions on weddings, funerals and baptisms are lifted the church building may be closed to the public to accommodate these events. The building may also be closed for cleaning and for the recording of worship.
This Sunday at All Saints
9.30am Video Eucharist Head to our online services page to join in, to find the order of service and for more resources.
10.30am Zoom coffee and catch up, invite via our mailing list.
(To join the mailing list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Harvest of Talents 2020
In the spirit of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25.14-30), we are once again challenging you to use your initiative and talent to see through a ‘project’ over the summer and return at Harvest with the money you have made from your project. In the past people have sold home-made cakes or jam, done gardening, babysitting, dog-walking or ironing, organised dinner parties, quizzes or Sudoku. This year of course it is an extra challenge to deploy your talent in the lockdown, so for example selling your home-made cakes will mean your own take on Deliveroo – a great opportunity to say a socially distanced “hello” as well! And because of the lockdown we can’t hand over the customary fiver to start you off, but we can still say a hearty “good luck with your Talent project”!