Sunday, March 28, 2010

Clocks on - Palm Sunday

I wish the start of Summer time didn't co-incide with Passiontide and Easter quite so often over the passage of years. Invariable the loss of an hour is combined with not going to bed early enough to compensate, and this means facing a Sunday less fresh than usual. Today I woke up with the unwelcome beginnings of a cold, which took away from my appreciation of this special time of year.

Everyone of us was delighted to welcome Bill John back to church. It's six months since he fell and broke his femur exiting the church porch. He's now driving again, and took his usual part in welcoming and introducing worshippers at the beginning of the service. A real triumph for his patience and persistence to be back among Christian friends again. In six months we have made no progress in removing the porch and replacing it with glass doors that would enable all who enter to see their way and negotiate the steps better.

We've had conservationist objections to relocating the porch, and have been pushed back into articulating a Grand Plan for all the stages of development needed to make the West end of the church and the choir vestry more visitor friendly, rather than letting us achieve one sound practical move at a time. I'm sorry not to see this resolved, before I go, but know that the determination of church officers and members will see this through to completion, despite the disregard of the DAC for the serious health and safety concerns we've represented to them.

It took three years of work in the face of safety worries to get us to the stage where the south churchyard path is now finally being re-laid. The official line is "If it's that unsafe close it off.", as if that was the only sensible answer possible in the life of a working church relying for its viability on being open to the public every day. Preservation of church property seems to be given more weight in 'duty of care' arguments than the people who use them. What would He who had not place on earth to lay His head have made of this I wonder?

It's the same regarding the adaptation of listed buildings to conserve energy. The church and other public bodies are in the thrall of CADW, when it comes to installing solar panels of ancient buildings. They all have the power of veto, and it's too expensive for anyone in their right minds to challenge this. Eventually we'll pay for all our failures in not putting the needs of people before fancy ideas about what is really precious in this world.

Dinah, the young Malaysian intern who's been worshipping with us for the past couple of months said her goodbyes today. After a quick tour of Europe, she's returning to Kuala Lumpur and her old desk in the University admin department. I'm hoping she'll email us some photos of her home church congregation, set in a culture where Christianity doesn't always fit comfortably, most church buildings are new-ish, and conservation is more about protecting the natural world from the ravages of commercial exploitation than preserving monuments to human ambition.

Sure, we all love our ancient sacred spaces, and invite them to speak of God to us, but how often we forget they were also built as expressions of power and status in past times. Our attitudes and preoccupations allow them to dominate us while we contrive as best we can to put them to proper use. How could we better achieve a proper balance? Another unanswered question I leave behind, when I leave office.

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