Friday, September 11, 2015

an anniversary visit

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

We are gathered here today for three reasons. The first is, as it always is when we gather together at the Lord's Table, is to give glory to God, to give thanks that his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord died for our sins so that we might be saved, and rejoice in the sure hope we have of eternal life in heaven.

Today we also gather to welcome Elizabeth and Michael as they return to St Mary's Church, the place they were 50 years ago this very day when they were joined together in Holy Matrimony. In a world that day by day diminishes the sacredness and seriousness of marriage, it is a wonderful testimony to stand in the presence of a couple who have faithfully persevered together in that state of life for half a century; and may I add that it speaks volumes that after so many decades together they freely choose to return to the place where it all began, the 'scene of the crime' as it were!

And today we also remember in a particular way Elizabeth's father, Canon Edward Curry, a past rector of this parish, and therefore a man I have the privilege of being a successor in title to. He was sadly to pass away less than two years after seeing his daughter married in this church, and I speak from the heart when I say that his passing was at much too young an age as he was only 57 when he died and I turn 53 today myself.

In the six years he spent in this parish, Canon Curry must have left a deep impression. This is shown by the beautiful stained-glass window presented by the parishioner in his memory just by the pulpit he would have preached from Sunday by Sunday. It is no slight, I hope, on the memories of others who held title before him that no other rector has been so honoured.

Interestingly, there is another piece of stained-glass in this church that bears his name – it is the beautiful rendering of the Annunciation near the baptismal font presented by Edward and his wife. And after this service I invite you to examine that window and note for yourself, as I did, a feature that makes it unique among all the stained-glass windows in here. All the others were presented by the donors in memory of some loved one, or group of loved ones; that window alone was presented to beautify the church. All the others, of course, also beautify the church. But that window alone was presented for no other reason than it should help make this house of God a more beautiful place to worship in - an act of remarkable generosity, it should be noted, as stained-glass windows to not come cheap and are not easily afforded on a rector's stipend;

I, of course, never met Canon Curry. I was only five years old and living far, far from this place when he died in July of 1968. But I think I would have liked him; if for no other reason than he understood how important it was for a place of worship to help give glory to God by being beautiful. So often you hear people say that such money were better spent on the poor or some other worthy cause. But I think of how in the Old Testament, while God reminds us again and again to care for the poor, the widow, and the orphan, I also note the instructions he gives for the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and for his Temple in Jerusalem. And he most certainly wanted those places to be richly adorned. And I also think of the words of our Lord when the woman anointed his feet with expensive perfume and he said to those chiding her saying it could have been sold and the money given to the poor that she had done a beautiful thing for him.

So there is no conflict between beautifying God's house and caring for the poor – we must do both! And that Canon Curry understood that I think is shown by the beautiful window he and his wife gave to this church; which is why I say that I think that I would have liked him. Whether he would have liked me, is of course, another matter all together!

But it is a privilege to welcome his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Michael back to this church today; not only because it gives us the chance to rejoice with them on this special occasion, but because of the opportunity it gives us to remember her father. May he rest in peace and his beloved wife also; and may his daughter and her husband be blessed with many more years together of wedded bliss. Amen

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