Last week I wrote about the big picture, how St Andrew’s has developed and changed over 160 years and how with changing needs and tastes of the population the church got adapted, both very successfully and sometimes less so. I did say that I would like to open a wider conversation about how we can utilise the building better for mission in the coming years, but this requires us to share thoughts and feelings being together in St Andrew’s; I think blog posts and online meetings have limitations. Raising some questions has gone as far as I think I can go online – what is needed now are proper conversations.
However, that does not mean that nothing is happening. A rather surprising number of people have been involved in the past week, and the church will look decidedly different when we open again for public worship. I find this hugely encouraging, and would like to share some examples with you.
The key to the oil stock in St John’s Chapel got mislaid a long time ago, but since I am an extremely nosy person I managed to find it (and had copies cut of the sole remaining key). The three oils are blessed by the bishop on Maundy Thursday each year and they are used for anointing the sick (Infirmatum), baptism (Catechumen Oil) and confirmations, ordinations and similar celebrations like blessing of altars (Chrism). The inside of the box has been repainted and Lilian and I pushed the boat out by repainting and gilding the door.
I have now somewhere to sit in the side chapels as Elizabeth has cleaned and mended the cushion covers and replaced the cushion pads on the president’s chairs. The old inside cushion pads were made with fabric from the 1940s or 1950s and needed to go the way of all flesh – so I can be appropriately enthroned.
I am also pleased to have spent £6 on two brass spoons for incense – we go through rather a lot of incense at St Andrew’s and the spoons in use looked like the ones I occasionally find in the churchyard.
It is traditional to cover crosses (and sometimes statues) during Passiontide, the time between the 5th Sunday of Lent and Good Friday. The reason is to hide the crosses to reveal the cross as a focal point during the Good Friday liturgy – what you can’t see for a while can be seen afresh. Elizabeth is making some purple covers ready for the time.
Meanwhile there is still lots of polishing going on – there are many beautiful things in St Andrew’s and maintaining them and making them shine again is a Herculean task. Many thanks to Vicky, Weronika, Elizabeth, Gill, Sonia and her patient family, Fr Stephen, Anna & Tim (who came back for more!), Brian and everybody else who offered their help.
The aumbry in the Lady Chapel is nearly finished. Matt has created a new steel box, fitted it on Saturday and was able to re-use the old front door, hence it was easy to fix the bronze cover. What is now missing is a wooden mount to hide what should not be seen (this is in hand), but it is usable again!
I am waiting for guidance about how and when the church can be re-opened. The schools go back on Monday 8 March, but Leicester currently has the third-highest infection rate in the country. I will obviously let you know as soon as I hear anything.