On Sundays the people of St Jude’s are very, very friendly. They chat. Open faced. All those expressions associated with acceptance, raised eyebrows, big grins, relaxed body language.\r\n\r\nThe problem is this.\r\n\r\nWhen Jack, who has been coming on Sundays, wanders into the church for a midweek meeting, he is met by a strange and what he believes is an uncharacteristic coolness (compared to the church he knows on Sunday). The same people that grinned and relaxed with him on Sunday just glanced over in his direction, and carried on in their own conversation.\r\n\r\nIn fact, the group of five or six people talking seemed to be huddled together. They hadn’t linked arms or anything like that. They just seemed to be closer than usual. On more careful inspection it was clear that although they were perhaps standing marginally closer physically they were remarkably closer socially. It was something about the focus on their faces. Jack had seen it on faces in the canteen at work. There was an aura that said, “Not you. Not now.”\r\n\r\nIt was clear to Jack that this was another group altogether. Same people, different group. Jack did what most slightly self concious outsiders do in church, the ones that don’t have the balls to just walk out in case they upset someone, as if …\r\n\r\nJack started to read notices, pick up books on the book stall, study Sunday School pictures on the wall, examine the Lady Chapel, and gradually drift towards the door.\r\n\r\nHe was unnecessarily self concious. No-one noticed.\r\n\r\nHe thought, “where was that Sunday Welcome?”\r\n\r\nand\r\n\r\n”What was that Sunday Welcome?”
I’ve come to realise relatively recently (or rather I had forgotten from a long time ago) that a beautiful image gives me a great, uplifting, bursting joy somewhere in my chest. It happened for the first time in years in February whilst staring for fifteen minutes at Canellettos ‘Grand Canal’ in the National Gallery. It happened again watching Ben Johnson actually painting his magnificently detailed and huge paintings of London in his studio set up in a room also in the National.\r\n\r\nMost recently I felt it while exploring the exquisite, elegant and intricate prints in the American Museum in Bath. Rooms of often small prints whose size can obscure the quite breathtaking levels of details the artists managed to achieve by bringing metal spikes into contact with old trees. And yet, with such technical skill one expects of a surgeon or a royal seamstress these men and (more often than expected) women created whole worlds in ink.\r\n\r\n
Wisdom …\n\nthe skill of the master craftsman,\n\nthe wits of the seasoned mariner,\n\nthe administrative abilities of the patient practitioner,\n\nthe wise advice of the counsellor\n\n(NIVBC Vol1 p940).
A church that can’t worship must be entertained; and men [and women] who can’t lead a church to worship must provide entertainment. ~ A. W. Tozer