It is intriguing how the architecture of All Saints tells us something of how we are called, and as we celebrate our 150th patronal festival, it is worth reflecting on it, writes Rev Sydney Maitland.
The church is built with the simplicity of Arts and Crafts movement architecture, with little decoration or adornment. The entrance is rather dark, and yet we are led into an interior in which a visitor will not really be prepared. The nave is dark and has stained glass windows on only the south side, while those to the north are blank.
Our eyes however are led onwards and upwards, through the sombre nave to a chancel that is flooded with light and colour: an altar gloriously side-lit by large windows on either side, but surmounted by magnificent works of art: the Phoebe Traquair painted altarpiece and the stained glass work above that.
The point is that we are drawn onwards, and inwards and upwards as we worship, yet we are sent outwards in the strength of that worship. Whatever we have, there is more to come, and wherever we are, there are more places to go to.
The point of All Saints is that it looks at the wholeness of the kingdom of heaven, those already there having completed their lives, those in the present, living out our faith in all the circumstances and trials of our times, and those yet to come, yet to receive the message and to make their responses to it.
In this sense we worship on the edge of reality – the perhaps the question is what reality are we worshiping on the edge of? Is it the reality of the glory of God, known in faith but unyielding to scientific probing, where truth and beauty and love are fully known and experienced, where relationships are stripped of pretence and where the truth is also the message of total freedom? Or is it the reality of our world of partial understanding, where our information is always based on what has happened, whether 100 years ago or 10 minutes ago, where our minds are the measure of the incomprehensible and the unfathomable, and where we know that the authority behind our information and laws is always subservient to some other power centre or interest?
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known. And now abide faith, hope and love, these three: but the greatest of them is love.”