If you read the passage from Matthew’s gospel you will see the three things that Jesus was goaded to do. If we put them into broad terms, they are as follows:
- · being challenged to do the impossible
- · being challenged to put ourselves in danger
- · being challenged to break the rules.
These are challenges we all face – as individuals, as families, at work, as a congregation and as part of a national Church. It is up to us to decide how far we push ourselves, how much risk we are prepared to take.
Do we fear failure? Do we care what other people think? Are we willing to stick our neck out? Are there some principles that we will not compromise? Are there some people whom we do not want to disappoint, or disagree with? Does fear play a large part in determining our action – either fear or another person or fear of a particular situation?
At the Congregational Board meeting last Tuesday the working group’s recommendation of a particular firm of architects was accepted. Thus another important step in the regeneration of the church has been taken. Further down the line, the architect will want to hear what you would like to see happening to breathe new life into our beautiful sanctuary. As individuals and and as a congregation, we will be faced with the challenges I’ve just outlined.
It came to me that at the moment the church building is rather like an old-fashioned front parlour. The room kept for best and hardly used. Where windows and door are so often closed that, with the best will in the world, there is a dankness about the place even though it is carefully and regularly cleaned. It’s the room where we have to be on our best behaviour and we can never fully relax. It is the best furnished room in the house but we hardly get to enjoy it.
Compare that with our church. It is closed for most of the week, at least in the winter, meaning that its beauty remains concealed behind locked doors. Its seats are mostly hard – suggesting a need to sit up straight and mind our p’s and q’s.
Nothing has been decided. But I leave you with the image of the front parlour and the challenges we will have to overcome if we are to convert it into a more comfortable and welcoming living space. Let me quote directly from the brief that was approved by the Board and given to the architects:
“The congregation of Leuchars: St Athernase is seeking to create a centre for the witness of Christ in our community, that restores the beauty of our magnificent building while meeting the needs of the current church congregation, and creating a welcoming, flexible space for the future community and Church of the 21st century.
“Our vision is that the Church is a place that is open to all, and where all our community will know they are welcomed every day of the week. The challenge is to do this while preserving our unique historical building, and the atmosphere it creates. Our church building receives hundreds of visitors every year from the UK and abroad, and is a stopping point on the Pilgrimage route to St Andrews. The renovated Church will increase visitor numbers and build this aspect of mission in our community.”
Food for thought, and for prayer, my friends . . .