Weekly message – Sunday 19 April

Rosemary Richter Dear friends,

On Easter Sunday we listened to the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi address, where he showed great knowledge and prayerful concern of world events and the impact on poorer nations.

One unexpected consequence of the emptiness of St Peter’s Basilica – which would usually be buzzing with people and have the cameras focussed on them – was that we were able to see the incredible decoration and architecture of the Basilica and admire that.

Even empty churches are incredible – the history and wonder of them. It reminded me of when Philip and I were able to visit Westminster Abbey after hours, and have a private tour with one of the clergy there, a former colleague. We were able to see the room where the scholars met to produce the translation that became the King James version of the Bible, and the room where Henry IV died after being taken ill in the abbey, and look at all the tombstones on the floor without hindrance.

David Livingstone’s last words recorded on his stone might echo today: All I can add in my solitude is may heaven’s rich blessing come down on every one, American, English, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world.

Empty churches, but so much history and a great cloud of witnesses from very different times and understanding, with the same human and spiritual needs. The empty tomb is still a place of belief, and empty churches still stand for the faith that Christ is risen indeed. Our church, though empty, stands for our faith in Jesus our Risen Lord, both through the cloud of witnesses that were before us and through our own witness.

This is a verse from a lovely hymn, Come, Host of heaven’s high dwelling place:

Surround these walls with faith and love
that through the nights and days,
when human tongues from speaking cease,
these stones may echo praise.

John Bell & Graham Maule (Singing the Faith 680)

Every blessing

Next message: Sunday 26 April