Reflection for Evensong 14th May 2023

This reflection is based on the hymn Christ is our Corner-stone which we will be singing at the start of Sunday’s choral evensong.

“Christ is made the sure foundation, and the precious corner-stone, who, the two walls underlying, bound in each, binds both in one, Holy Sion’s help for ever, and her confidence alone.” Texts: Psalm 84 Colossians 3: 12-17

We are all aware, I am sure, of the vital importance of good foundations for any building and even Jesus emphasised their importance in his parable about the fate of those who unwisely built on sand and those wise enough to know that a solid rock foundation would ensure a habitation that could stand up to the worst that nature could throw at it. So too we must all know the childhood story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf who happily huffed and puffed and destroyed the insubstantially built, just thrown together dwellings of the first two foolish pigs whereas the solidly and carefully built house resting on secure foundations of the third little pig stood up to any amount of huffing and puffing.

Good foundations which will remain fixed and solid no matter what and it is foundations that are solid that we are called to have in our faith; foundations of unwavering, confident trust, foundations to ensure that even when the troubles of the world wreak havoc around us and upon us personally they will not be shaken, will not and cannot be destroyed.

The coronation service of King Charles was I felt a strong pointer to such foundations on which the Church of England now stands and of which Charles himself is Supreme Governor. A foundation on which Charles has pledged to further build an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely. A foundation which we are happy to display to others; a foundation which is strong enough in its faith in the invisible God to witness a Hindu proclaiming that :’ by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And this evening we are commemorating the rededication of this ancient church of St James on the twelfth of May 1951 whose own foundations have held firm despite the worst that a stray German bomb could inflict. Foundations which continued to hold strong once again when in 1964 fa lightning strike on the tower resulted in a disastrous fire causing extensive damage.

Foundations that held firm because a church is so much more than bricks and mortar. A church is in reality I believe the people who come as one body to worship there and to give glory to God; the body of Christ which no matter what occurs are bound to God by means of the cornerstone which is Christ Himself. One body united by the foundations of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Foundations that are held together by the mortar of peace which binds everything and everyone of God’s children together in perfect harmony.

Are our foundations strong and able to hold fast no matter what the future holds for this ancient church of Abinger, this house of God and for ourselves? Is Christ our corner stone, our mainstay around which we have built up our own faith in imitation of Christ? Is Christ for us the corner stone holding earth and heaven in one? Whenever we worship here in this ancient church can we like the psalmist proclaim with true sincerity ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.’

Do we recognise and acknowledge as St Paul did in his letter to the Ephesians that ‘In Christ the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple of the Lord, in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God? That to me is such an awesome vision, such a wonder making concept that as we worship here week by week we are built up spiritually. into a dwelling place which we trustingly dedicate for all eternity to God himself? And if this is so no wonder that in truly exultant jubilation we will join in that perpetual melody of all the choirs of heaven and earth singing everlastingly to God upon whom we build our faith, our spiritual body.

All that dedicated city, dearly loved by God on high, in exultant jubilation pours perpetual melody, God the One, in Threefold glory, singing everlastingly. To this temple, where we call thee, come O Lord of hosts, today; with thy wonted loving-kindness, hear thy people as they pray; and thy fullest benediction shed within it walls for ay. Laud and honour to the Father, Laud and honour to the Sin, Laud and honour to the Spirit, ever Three and ever One, One in love and One in splendour, while unending ages run.

Rev’d Virginia Smithe14th May 2023

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