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Letter from the Vicar (September 2017)

Dear friends,

Summer sunshine gives us an opportunity to visit country churches, warmer than in the winter months and, with the stronger daylight, offering a better viewing of our stained glass windows.

We have some significant stained glass windows in Holy Trinity church.  My favourite is the most recent in comparison to the others.  It is the Lady Chapel Stella Maris window, dedicated in 1948 as a war memorial. It shows our Lady with the Christ Child afloat a wooden vessel in Weymouth Harbour.  I am transfixed by it as I sit each week in the Lady Chapel. 

All these coloured icons add beauty and interest to our churches, depicting Biblical narratives and saintly souls. These windows, these glass-paned picture books, first provided instruction for the Christian way of faith in an age when many could neither read nor write.  They shine out in reds and blues, greens and gold, illuminated by the daytime sunlight and by candlelight or electricity when night falls. The varied colours tell their story: blue for faith and white for purity; green for hope and purple for kingship; red for the martyrs’ blood.

As we gaze, the lessons of Scripture are inscribed upon our memories. We revere the Saints for their example of courage in the face of persecution, their faithfulness in times of temptation. Such is their charisma, we might forget that even Saints begin their lives as helpless babes, equally vulnerable and with the same need for love and nurture as you or me. Some of them seem almost to have attained saintly status despite, rather than because of, their worldly achievements. 

Think of Mary Magdalene, St Peter and St Paul: one a fallen woman, one who denied Christ, and yet another a persecutor of Christians.

But it wasn’t human accomplishment that immortalised the Saints in glass, but their response of faith, unconditionally given, and mirroring the unreserved love God showed in meeting them where they were. In the same way, he reveals himself to us, no strings attached, to awaken in us that same unconditional self-offering as when he sent his Son to die for us, so that we could live for him. God’s revelation of himself will never be fully understood this side of eternity, for like our vision through stained glass, our understanding is incomplete. 

But in our stained glass windows we are given the pattern of the Saints and the teaching of the Scriptures, to encourage us to continue our pilgrimage, steadfast in faith, firm in hope and generous in love, until we arrive in the heavenly kingdom, where God will no longer be revealed “through a glass darkly, but face to face.” (I Cor. 13; 12)

Father Andrew

Revd Canon Andrew Gough

September 2017


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Thought for the Week 24th June 2018

It seems strange that the disciples should turn to Jesus for help during a storm on the sea of Galilee. After all they were the fishermen. They knew the angry waters and the gusting winds. Jesus was a landlubber with no touch of the sea in his veins. How could he help? Somehow they had a glimpse of him as Lord of the wind and sea, as Lord of all. We are challenged by our gospel today to call on him, to have faith in him, to live by that faith with boundless confidence in him because he is our Father.

Canon Andrew

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