‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, bow down before him, his glory proclaim; with gold of obedience and incense of lowliness, kneel and adore him the Lord is his name.’
So runs the hymn for the Feast of Epiphany, remembering the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Child Jesus. It was not that long ago you could go to most Anglican churches and pick up a sense of beauty of holiness. The furnishings, the music, the order of worship and the way it was offered, with a sense of dignity and adoration – however, can no longer take that for granted.
Here at Morningside, we still maintain that Anglican tradition. The recent adjustments and tidying-up to the furnishings is to make that stand out more clearly. The point of it all is that when someone walks into our church they see far more than candles, wood and statues, they sense that this is a holy place of worship, as I mention on the first page, that this is the ‘House of God; the Gate of Heaven’ (Jacob in Genesis 28:17).
In Jacob’s dream, he sees a ladder set up between earth and heaven with angels ascending and descending, and in a sense the Church’s symbolism in ordered and dignified worship, vestments, incense and crafted images and sacred vessels, and flickering candles tries to expresses that image. When we put this all together we are offering an image beyond the everyday things of a world – an alternate vision – and for those searching, our little church that can be the door that opens to House of God; the Gate of Heaven the Kingdom of Heaven.
So, we have no reason to apologise for the way we conduct our traditional forms of worship. Indeed, Bishop Alison, when she visited us last, encouraged the Parish Council to keep to these values as it was important for the whole Diocese. This does not mean we remain conservative, static and immovable but seek ways to renew and change when it makes our tradition stand out more clearly.