Thursday, 22 July 2010

August Newsletter

‘Sacred Spaces’ can be many and varied. I wonder what would you name as your ‘sacred space’?
Recently, I asked a group of schoolchildren what was their ‘sacred space’. Many said their bedroom was a place of solace, some named a den they had made, or a shed they went to, some said when they visited their horses, some had special places on the beach which were places of sanctuary. The children also recognised the Church building as being an important ‘sacred space’ where generations of people had prayed, where special celebrations had taken place, a ‘hallowed’ and ‘blessed’ place. Many Churches in Cornwall were built near fresh water sources, useful for baptisms, but also founded close to water as a source of life. There are so many ‘holy wells’ around us.
I wonder if you would name your ‘sacred space’ as the Church, or a particular part of the Church, or whether some other place of sanctuary springs to mind. Here in Cornwall, we live in a truly blessed place with wonderful rugged and craggy coastline, hidden and secret coves, ever-changing colours and moods of the sea, a rich variety of sea creatures, animals and birdlife, there are many ‘sacred spaces’ here.
The Church has been too anthropocentric or human-centred in the past, by concentrating solely on one man, Jesus. Although Jesus is the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’, ‘The Alpha and the Omega’, the only source of our salvation, God did not only create one man, even if he was the Divine Son of God. If our faith is too human-focused it can lead to travesty: Recently, I watched a harrowing theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck’s book ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ at the Hall for Cornwall. Steinbeck portrayed the pioneering Southern Baptist Community in America, fundamentally believing in Jesus Christ as their ‘Personal Saviour’, but paying scant regard for the agricultural land around them, and desecrating, despoiling, and so abusing and overworking the land, that it could no longer sustain life and was turned into a dustbowl.
As well as Jesus, we are each made in God’s image and God also created this beautiful world for us to enjoy. The great eighteenth-century poet and visionary, William Blake, declared that ‘everything that lives is holy’. That is why I enjoy so much taking Services outside into other ‘sacred spaces’ (and not confining our faith to a building, however much of a ‘sacred space’ it is). I have really enjoyed leading the Easter Sunday Morning Perranuthnoe Sunrise Service, the Rogation Sunday Field Blessing, the Songs of Praise Service in the Rectory Garden, and we are going to do two more outdoor Services in August too:
a Family Service by the Red River on Marazion Beach on Sunday 8 August and
on Wednesday 11 August we are going to revive the tradition of the St Hilary Pilgrimage, taking in all four Churches in our Benefice, starting from Ludgvan at 2.30pm, Marazion at 4.30pm, Perranuthnoe at 6.00pm to join in the St Hilary Pilgrimage Service at 7.00pm. You are welcome to join us at any point along the route. The early Celtic saints who brought Christianity to Cornwall and the later Medieval saints on Pilgrimage to Compostela walked many of the paths and tracks of St Michael’s Way which we shall travel on, and we shall be travelling in their footsteps, in the land they have already blessed before us. If you don’t want to make a physical Pilgrimage or to go outside, you are very welcome to join in the spiritual pilgrimage, which is our new ‘Sacred Space’ Daily Prayer Tuesdays-Saturdays throughout August at Marazion Church.
There are many ‘sacred spaces’ and many sacred places all around us to be discovered in our Churches, and outside too. This Summer may we explore and discover them or renew our acquaintance with some holy and blessed places, some ‘sacred spaces’ once again.

Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: Ludgvan, Marazion, Perranuthnoe & St Hilary