The holiday season seems but a distant memory now, but we enjoyed our two weeks in York and the Yorkshire Dales, and by and large the weather was very kind to us. We were also able to catch up with friends and we had lunch with John and Rita Bennett in their home in Linton near Grassington. Some of you will remember John and Rita when they were our Mission partners in Bangladesh and they had fond memories of their times in Carnoustie Panbride, and asked to be remembered to the congregation. John is now Church Warden at Bolton Abbey and he was ordained into the Anglican Communion at the Abbey – the first Ordination there since the Reformation.
Bolton Abbey is a beautiful place – even on the day we were there when it rained torrents for most of the day! The Abbey was founded by Augustinian Canons in 1154 and enjoyed a period of stability and expansion until 1539 when Henry VIII destroyed the monasteries. However, one of the Priors managed to persuade the King that the nave should be kept to allow people in the new church to continue worshipping, and while half the Abbey had its roof removed and the furnishings stripped out, what is now the Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert survived – and it is here that John works.
Another place we visited was York Minster. We had been there a number of years ago when Andy and Helen were children, but we had not done the guided tour at the time. We managed to attend Evensong on two occasions, enjoying the opportunity for some peace and quiet in worship and enjoying the glorious choral singing. The guided tour was excellent, and many of the interesting features of the Minster were shown to us.
The nave was built between 1291 and 1350, and is one of the widest in Europe. The Great West Window was finished in 1338. But over the years there have been many new features illustrating that the Minster is a living place of worship. In 2005 , placed underneath the Great West Window is what are called “The Semaphore Saints” They are by the artist Terry Hammill. There are twelve figures in total each displaying a semaphore flag. The message displayed by these twelve carved saints reads “Christ is here”.
However, when they were first placed in position, they were not placed correctly and the message instead said
“Chris is there”! This reminded me of the church where a stone had been thrown at a stained glass window and removed one of the panes of glass containing a letter of the alphabet and the damaged window read “Glory to God in the High st”!
There is perhaps a real message in that – because Cod cannot be contained in a church building – he has to get out into the High Street. And if we juxtapose this with the message in York Minister – yes, Christ is here – but Chris, or whatever your name is, should also be there. “There” is wherever we are called to be, inside the church and outside the church.
There are going to be difficult days ahead for the church, nationally and locally – the Elders and Members of the congregational board are at present discussing the proposals from Presbytery for the future of our congregation after I retire and we need everyone to be supportive in their attendance at worship and their involvement in all that goes on in Carnoustie Panbride. In 2011 The General Assembly agreed that there should be a three year National Stewardship Programme across the Church focussing on the stewardship of Time, Talents and Money. This year we are focussing on the Stewardship of Time. What can you offer this congregation by way of time? An hour each week at worship? Helping at the teas after the service, or at coffee mornings, or lunches? Make soup (that also takes in talents!!).
Don’t wait to be asked – why not volunteer your time? I hope that we can all pull together and show that Christ is here – and that we are also here – and there!