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July 2015 - The Open Church

Summer is a season when many people go away and visit places of interest. Often people sign a book to show they've been there. Recently we had to buy a new visitors' book for Osbaldwick Church. Looking through the old one reminds me of the great number of people who have visited the church over the last years. Many of them come to see the Mary Ward tombstone. They may be nuns from her order or teachers and children from Mary Ward schools, both in the UK and from abroad eg India and Australia. Other individuals and groups come, some to pray, some out of interest in visiting an old church that has been extensively modernised to make it accessible, primarily as a place of worship, but also as a resource for people and organisations who need a space in which to meet for social activities such as aerobics, poetry, keep fit, coffee, weight watching and other things.

We provide these opportunities by keeping the church open most of the day, every day, as we also do with our church at Murton, so that both buildings are available to people to visit, to look, to sit, think, pray or just relax in stillness and silence.

That is exactly what a church building is for - to be there for everyone, in whatever state of mind they come - happy or sad, in hope or despair, celebrating a joy or seeking comfort. People are often surprised to find an open church.

But, as the church is really the people even more than the building, it follows that the people of God in this and every parish need to be open, too - open to God in prayer and open to people, reaching out to everyone, sharing the Good News of God's love in Jesus for everyone, being there for people of all ages and situations - to listen, to care and to help wherever possible. May God keep us open to all comers and may he open us up to his loving, caring, forgiving, compassionate and healing grace each and every day.

Jesus said, "Love one another, as I have loved you."


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