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Thought for the Week – 9th October 2022

Sacred Spaces

We have been amazed at the flurry of visitors to Billingsley recently, especially in September. We have Geocachers, searching for the hidden object in the church, casual visitors and most recently, we received a party from the USA; members of the Billingsley family in search of their roots. Whilst these groups all have different motives, they all appreciate that the church is open and I think they all gain something, if only for a few moments, from being in the building.

There are some in the church who are dismissive of buildings, regarding them as obstacles to our core job. During the period churches were closed, some seemed to relish this, writing of how we were now free of our obligations to look after old buildings. I understand the sentiments behind this, but I think it speaks of a narrow attitude. God can speak through the natural world and also the man-made world. Just as the Spirit reaches out through music and poetry, so (s)he can do the same through buildings, made holy by the prayers of those who have worshipped in them. When I am alone in empty church, I am in the presence not only of God, but the whole company of heaven; the countless believers who have worshipped in that place and now make their worship in heaven, but who join with us whenever and wherever we pray. If you ask most people who visit our small churches what they feel, I doubt they would put it like that, but I think most would say that they did get a glimpse of something profound and important; what I call God. I suspect that experience speaks to them far more effectively than any number of sermons that I could preach. God uses places as well as people.
Rev David Poyner