Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 16 – Saturday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him,
Why, oh why did people ever think that lead was a useful material for roofing churches? After all, down the ages other kinds of roof materials are available. When it needs replacing why do we, often at the behest of people who don’t even use our church buildings, have to replace ‘like for like’ at great expense and still have the worry of further threats of theft?
Earlier in Lent I mentioned how our own parish faces a bill of £50 000 for ‘only’ the first phase of replacing the lead on our church roof (all donations gratefully accepted!) but our need is due to normal wear and tear. I cannot imagine the heartache felt in a community of a ‘faithful few’ who have responsibly, due to the greed of others, for a now ‘lead-free’ building that is hundreds of years old. I know we should not put our faith in bricks and mortar but the places where the faithful have gathered down the generations are the gateway for the future. We are called to not only honour the faithfulness of those who have arrived home ahead of us but to use their generosity to provide a cradle for those yet to discover how much they are loved by God.
So, thank heavens for those who aim and passion is to help us provide space for the ‘holy’ in the middle of the ordinary. The Diocesan Advisory Committees, Heritage England, and the Victorian Society to name but a few who sometimes seem to have a greater vision for the use of our buildings by the whole parish than those who worship in them Sunday by Sunday. Yes, the faculty jurisdiction process can be hard work for those who are not familiar with Statements of Significance. To balance the needs of those who want to preserve wooden pews and those who protect the bats who are responsible for the deterioration of those same pews requires churchwardens who can give King Solomon and his wisdom a run for his money!
Ultimately we are called to build the Body of Christ and not only the House of God. After all did not Jesus prophecy, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ (John 2.19)? Looking after lead roofs, Victorian pews, stained glass windows, and rood screens is not of the essence of the Gospel but they can, and have been for many ‘the gate of heaven’ (Genesis 28.17).
So let us aim to not just see our buildings, be they ancient or modern, as burdens but as bearers of the gospel. We must strive to make them places that offer a welcome rather than defending them against all-comers. Of course, we must be somewhat wily in our welcome and take appropriate care; personally, I like the idea of the Sunday School ‘security marking’ church property with glitter. This task we must perform with care and with prayer for if in the end, the result of our efforts at protection, surveillance, and burglar-proofing is that our buildings cannot be places of welcome then they may as well not exist at all. If we allow this to happen they run the risk of becoming mausoleums of a dead faith rather than a spiritual house built from living stones (1 Peter 2.5)
Lord, at times such as this,
when we realise that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.
As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.
Do not forget us now.
Daina Macalintal, USA
- Find out the names of the members of your Diocesan Advisory
Committee and pray for them and all whose passion it is to see our church buildings open for everyone to use.
- Consider making a gift, or a legacy in your will, for the care of
your church building and its ministry for generations yet to be born
Church Care is the national body responsible for ensuring the care of churches in England find out more about their work here:
Find out about leaving a legacy for your church here:
If you are in Suffolk, the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust helps churches with grants for repair and restoration. Also the Bike Ride they organise each September is fun:
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017