Having dodgy feet does mean a lot of time sitting while the family explore on holiday – today in York. Coffee shops are great, especially where I can read while absorbing the feel of a place. But I can have too much of a good thing. Or at least too much caffeine.
So sitting on a bench outside York Minster is a change of scene, and a thought provoking one. Huge crowds of tourists pass and admire; a smaller number pay to go in.
It’s a magnificent and inspiring building. I remember years back talking to one of the carvers shaping a pinnacle to the glory of God, knowing that once in place it would never be seen close enough for anyone except God to appreciate the detail.
(edit) we walked round the corner to find stone carvers at work, keeping the building alive with the same ancient skills with which it was built so long ago.
I can’t help thinking, though, that the church may never again have the confidence – or the resources – to build places like this. And if we could, should we? But surely we can build something else at the heart of our cities to which people will come – and perhaps not only to admire but to enter.
We can still make places of worship beautiful, and we should as far as we can. But if course if the worship that is offered within them and the service that comes out of them don’t match up to the appearance, then they will mean little.
The tower of the Minster sets a high standard to aim for. How would our church life look if it reached so high?