We are waiting for the final approval of our faculty for the re-ordering of the church. Yesterday I got so frustrated with the wait that I phoned the Archdeacon, who pointed out that the Chancellor, who has to grant the faculty, is a High Court judge who does it in his spare time. That I knew. What I didn't know was that his 'spare time' for faculties is three hours on a Saturday morning. That's why the Diocesan Registry only posts faculty paperwork to him once a week, and he only posts back the ones he's done once a week. So you aren't going to hear a favourable response later in the week, it'll be Monday or Tuesday. I wish someone had explained this to me, it would have saved a lot of tension and heartache. The Church of England does rather just assume that everyone knows certain things.
Last week we cleared the church building of everything moveable. It looks very, very empty and bleak.
Our Lady has been wedged into a corner in the clergy vestry so she can't get damaged. It'll be a dull couple of months for her, sadly.
Foolishly I took it upon myself to shift out all the horrible red leatherette kneelers. I thought they could go up in the attic, but taking a mere six all the way there was enough to convince me that this was a very poor idea, so they were banished to the choir vestry. I was congratulating myself for having nearly completed the job when I looked behind the very last pew and discovered stacks and stacks of the things. Apparently these were 'spares' left over from the installation of the new heating system a couple of years ago when several pews were removed. This is what the kneelers look like now. A member of the PCC suggested we could build a children's play area with them:
I was increasingly unsettled all week, and slowly realised this wasn't just because of the tension of waiting for the faculty to come through, but because the environment I am so very, very familiar with was being taken away (even if I was primarily responsible for doing so). Every day, more or less, I unlock the church in the morning, and shut it at night. I've seen it at every time of day and in every sort of weather. I pray in it, clean it, care for it, celebrate the presence of God in it. It is, to an extent, the landscape of my soul. And it will, sooner or later, be changing very significantly. And if that's how I feel after no more than 2 1/2 years, how must the people who've been here for 40, 50, 60 years feel?
I said this in my sermon in the first service worshipping in the church hall. This is the hall set up by our sterling team last Saturday:
The service went smoothly and the Roman Catholics before us somehow managed to squeeze 120 people into the room. I was very glad I did speak about the refurbishment and what it meant as here was a lot of emotion around, including on the part of the people who are most firmly in favour of the changes who nevertheless feel exactly the same sense of unsettlement and bereavement. I become ever more convinced that what we're doing is not just a practical matter of flooring and seating and lights, but actually has a spiritual significance.