All buildings have stories to tell. Sacred buildings, such as our churches, tell stories of encounter and dialogue between human beings and the divine. Built to the glory of God, St Swithun’s, St Mary de Lode and St Mary de Crypt bear witness to the timeless story of the love of God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This story is seen through the lives of those who have connected with our churches over the centuries and those who engage with them now. It is celebrated in stone and glass, fabric and treasures. It is interpreted in Holy Scripture, worship, preaching and song. It is explored through works of art that can move the soul in journeys towards God. It is embodied in our churches’ commitment to the environment ensuring that climate justice is a facet of the inbreaking Kingdom of God.
There are many reasons that people visit a church. They are places of worship and prayer, heritage attractions, concert venues, community space, places where help and solace may be found. They are holy buildings where we can light a candle to remember our own needs, the needs of those we love and care for and the needs of the world.
In the current storm of life, millions of people across the world are praying for peace between Russia and Ukraine. We are praying for peace in our churches and cathedrals where the prayers of centuries are held in the very walls.
Of course, we don’t have to pray for peace in a sacred building. As we know, we can pray at home, on the train, walking along the street, on the school run, before we go to sleep. Prayer is always valid. Prayer is always needed.
This week, the Archbishop of Canterbury asks us, wherever we are, to pause and to pray for a de- escalation of tension and for peace between Russia and Ukraine. In doing so, we join our prayers with all those throughout the world praying to Jesus the Prince of Peace. Please pray:
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed; kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace; and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector