All Saints' Church Wardens reports

ALL SAINTS’ WARDEN [FEBRUARY 2020] – Christopher Aubrey

[1] Around 1655 the Puritan poet John Milton [author of ‘Paradise Lost’] composed a famous sonnet commonly entitled “On His Blindness” [his sight had been failing for years]. It ends with three lines concerning God’s workers and servants, and he is at pains to emphasise their different natures and gifts:                               

Thousands at his bidding speed                And post* o’er Land and Ocean without rest:                                                           They also serve who only stand and wait”.                                                                    

It is to the latter I wish to refer.    After such a central Christian event as Christmas, with its multiple services, the intensity of its message, the universality of its performances [did you notice that the Orthodox churches celebrate Christ’s birth some two weeks later than others?], it is understandable that we see church activities as dependent solely on Popes, Archbishops, Vicars and so on.

Well of course they bear the great spiritual load, it is to them we listen for guidance and interpretation: and what they do and who they are cannot and must not be undervalued.

But as Warden I want to make you all aware of the vast number of people who perform Christian duties inside and outside churches, without formal rôles, titles, responsibilities. They are the setter-uppers**, the cleaners, the tidiers, the polishers, the welcomers, the flower arrangers, the cushion knitters, the tea makers, the cake-makers, all those who come early or stay behind, often late into the night, clearing up or preparing for the morrow. At the end of 2019 we had two hugely-attended concerts in All Saints’, that by the Gurkha Band [with some 450 people], that by the massed Marsh Choir [around 1000 people]: both fabulous events, hopefully to be repeated, but what might have escaped notice was the hard work of all those who might be said to “only stand and wait” but who also “served”. Milton was not sneering at them, he was applauding and thanking them. As do I.

[2] We hope to be able to re-commence all the window works this spring.

[3] A Happy New Year to us all.

 

                               * “post” meant ‘travel’ in the 17th century

                               ** “setter-uppers”: I made that one up.