Newsletter for Moreton Hall
It was my privilege in January to take Holy Communion in the crypt at Lambeth Palace. It is an amazing place to use for worship. Some parts of it are extremely old, being early mediaeval, but because it has been neglected, possibly for centuries, some of it is in quite a poor state of repair. One would wonder why the Archbishop and his team use it for daily prayers and weekly Holy Communion.
One reason it is such a powerful place is that it reminded me that the early Christians did not have any churches and often met in secret in catacombs. Indeed the catacombs under Rome can be viewed today and are a very special and ancient place. So immediately in the worship you have a sense of being connected to the ongoing worship of the church over two thousand years.
The second effect of its slightly ruinous nature is to remind us that today many Christians conduct worship in bombed out churches and in cellars and attics as they are being systematically bombed and shot by extremists.
The third thing that makes it very powerful is that there are pillars which had obviously been carefully carved out of expensive marble but are now chipped and broken but nonetheless they still support a wonderful vaulted ceiling.
January and February can be times when people get very depressed. They often feel their lives have gone in the wrong direction or they are burdened with debt or they are tempted to slip back into addictions. Relationships are often strained to breaking point; many people feel worthless, useless and, often as not, without any sense of hope. The crypt chapel at Lambeth Palace reminded me that in the midst of brokenness, darkness and difficulty God can produce something beautiful. It is often when we are broken and at the end of our tether we are most effective as Christians. Often when we are broken and despairing, God speaks to us and consoles us in a very powerful way. He is able to do this because all pretence is stripped away and we have to think about essentials. I am also reminded that no matter how bashed and chipped we might be, if we are in the right place, like those chipped pillars, we can still hold up a vast weight. In fact while we think we are ugly and disfigured others are amazed at how essential we are to the well being of others.
So my thought for this month is that in the midst of all this stuff, please understand how valuable you are to God, how much He is still in your life helping you and supporting you. If you turn and cry out to Him He will hear you and be with you and perhaps He might show you how much you are achieving when you are on the point of despair.
Another wonderful thing about that chapel, it was filled with over fifty young people worshipping God who had given up at least one year of their lives to serve at Lambeth Palace and to serve the community around it. In the midst of something that was dark, broken and abandoned God has wrought a miracle of youth, life and vitality. Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection we celebrate on 1st April means that no matter how dark and difficult the place you are in, He can bring fresh life and vitality to you.
With every good wish,
Revd. Canon Jonathan Ford.
Minister Christ Church Moreton Hall