A significant amount of our time and energy at St Margaret’s this year has been taken up with the restoration of our Church floor. Original to the building of 1879 the floor of oak blocks and tiles had become loose, damaged and uneven. Trip hazards were developing because of the unevenness of the oak blocks and the many chipped tiles were also becoming very unsightly. These issues with our floor had to be addressed or the Church would have become an unsafe environment.
The work was quite complex because of the dual nature of the project. The uplifting, cleaning, re-bonding and the re-laying of the oak blocks was one set of tasks. Addressing the many chipped tiles was another. However, the two had to be done in tandem or we could be left with a very uneven floor once again. Eventually we found a solution with our excellent contractor. Two other key elements were the cost, at around £95,000, and continuing the life of our church whilst the work took place.
Apart from one small grant we had to raise all of the funds ourselves. However, through the generosity of many parishioners, and two significant legacies, we were able to raise the amount needed. We then had to close the church for around nine weeks, hosting our largest Sunday service in our Parish Hall. Although we all felt the disruption we also discovered new things about one another, and ourselves, and this has led to a deeper appreciation of what is most important about our faith and the ways in which it seeks to serve the needs of our community.
This was a very practical, down to earth and messy project but its completion was vital. The original purpose and aesthetic image of our floor had been lost through time and that primary function and beauty needed to be restored. There is an interesting parallel here with what I believe God was about at Christmas.
Your parish priest
The birth we celebrate at this time of year was equally practical, messy, and down to earth. The Nativity narrative of the displaced family laying their child in a manger encapsulates this theme. At Christmas God is about restoring the function and beauty which was his original intention for humanity. The divine imprint of love which is given to every human being is so easily marred by the knocks and buffeting of a broken and uneven world. By coming as one of us he seeks to restore that genuine personhood in us all and give each of us access to it day by day.
The legacy of this action transforms lives today and the Church still exists to disrupt any complacency we have towards our unbalanced and fractured world. The Church itself shares in that brokenness but Christmas exists to call us all back to the glory and beauty which God had always intended for his world and his people.