John Morrison – 6 August 2017

Last Sunday afternoon we had the first workshop of the input phase of our Church Review. Richard & Anne Mallaby led us in a creative exploration of the theme Deepening our Spirituality as a Church. The session included input from them, personal reflection on various items of art and symbolism, and group work. The 10 signposts of renewal in Christianity for the Rest of Us, which we recently studied, provided a useful framework.

During the report-back from groups, there was an emphasis on the significance for our church of hospitality, justice and discernment. Copies of the comments are available from Belinda.

The artwork that grabbed my attention and on which I mainly reflected was this one. My first thought was that it looked like a church, but one raised on a pedestal. It symbolised for me a church that had got it wrong by not being grounded in the way a Christian community ought to be.

However, someone else in my group thought that the pillars were actually like legs and that there were feet at the base. As such, the much more positive symbolism is of a going church, one on the move.

The item also reminded me of structures I had seen in rural parts of Galicia, Spain. When I first saw them, I thought they were some sort of religious buildings. Though usually adorned with Christian symbols, they are actually granaries, called horreos, mainly for storing corn. The sculpture prompted reflection for me about the church as a storehouse of blessings to be shared with others in times of need.

After our session, Anne told me about the artist’s concept. It represents a reliquary, which is a container for some venerated relic such as a bone or some other item supposedly connected with a particular saint. We saw many of these as well in churches and museums in Spain and other parts of Europe, some of which were quite gruesome and bizarre.

Whereas such reliquaries often have a small window through which to view the relic, the work Anne displayed had a mirror instead. Looking into the mirror, one doesn’t see a relic of a dead saint but is prompted to reflect on the living person outside the structure. Am I a saint? Scripture applies the term to all Christians, who are holy ones in the sense of being set apart for God and God’s service.

That sculpture certainly made me think, and it provides a metaphor of the church for me in a number of ways. How about you? Is there some photograph, poem, painting or sculpture which symbolises for you where our church is at or where it ought to be going? If so, please pass it onto Belinda for possible inclusion in our “Ears to Hear” reflection weekend on 11-13th August.