Fr Nigel writes
THE MARKET PLACE
There are lots of people who have traditionally misunderstood today’s Gospel! They would argue that any sacred place of worship is ‘destroyed’ if so much as a cup of coffee was shared, let alone a place where postcards can be sold, or some happy fundraising entertained. But for the majority of us, the adaptation and improvement of our church facilities is hugely important in building and strengthening our community links. Even in those parishes where removing pews has been a source of controversy or complaint, we tend to ignore our medieval past when pews were not there to get in the way of straw and horses and the everyday movement and smells of economic activity!
Of course, last week’s Budget was equally controversial with keyworkers’ wages frozen, and some ‘key’ towns rewarded with extra funding and more needy ones passed by. And then there was a heated PMQs in which the Prime Minister tried to defend the UK’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia when the whole world has now woken up to the dire plight of so many Yemen victims and fatalities, as a result of those same weapons. Did you see that very moving TV footage of 9 year old brother and sister, Ahmed and Fatima, both blind, making their way to their ‘school’ underneath a bombed concrete shell? They were determined to carry on learning, despite all their suffering.
Our cautious ‘coming out of lockdown’ is hardly comparable. But essential to every Lenten pathway leading us to Easter is the gift of prayer. In our own Thursday morning market on Market Hill, I am setting up our own community and Benefice ‘PRAYER TREE’ where anyone can ‘hang’ their own label and prayer request on March 11th and 18th – in time for the National Day of Reflection. This is something we can physically do without worrying about the syntax or even the context of ‘a holy place’. Every day prayer in the outdoor market is still valid and sacred especially in challenging times when the Church must look outwards as well as upwards. I hope to say a little more if you can join us ‘virtually’ this Sunday, at 5.30 pm, and look forward to seeing you.