Saturday, May 30, 2009

All aspects of life are consecrated, says Archbishop

A church which rose from the ashes of a bombed out city symbolises hope and a belief that God is central to our lives, the Archbishop of Wales told a packed congregation at a service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the rededication of St Mary’s Church in Swansea city centre.

In his sermon Dr Barry Morgan said that the decision to re-build the church after its catastrophic bombing during the Second World War, had been an important symbolic act.

“It spoke of all those things for which the church stands – belief in a loving God and compassion for humanity, values which the Nazi regime in Germany had tried to obliterate," he said. "Not to have re-built this church, that occupied so prominent a site in Swansea, would have been an act of defeat and resignation.

"Like the re-building of Coventry Cathedral, it declared that war, hatred and destruction do not have the last word.”

Built in the city centre, St Mary’s ought to be a constant reminder to the city of God’s world, he said. Without high railings or walls it is open to God’s world in order to serve it.

He said, “The whole of life is consecrated. God is in our midst and is involved in every aspect of our lives. That is why every person and organisation is welcome in this place. That is why it’s open to this city, this diocese, this nation and in the words of one person, “not only must its doors be open but also its mind, its heart, seeking to work with all who care about the meaning of living life together in community.

“This is God’s world and the issues of that world – be they health, education, the family, the environment, unemployment, human rights or sexuality – matter to Him, and because they matter to Him, they matter to God’s church.

"The life and work of God’s everyday world are brought here to be prayed for and wrestled with and people go from here to be strengthened to work in that world.”

During the service, which was attended by clergy who had previously served at St Mary’s as well as parishioners and civic dignitaries, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, Rt Rev John Davies, dedicated a stunning new sanctuary embroidery scheme.

Following the service, the congregation moved out of the church to Castle Square to watch a digitalised film on a big screen of the rededication service 50 years ago. It showed the Queen Mother’s arrival and procession with guards to The Guildhall and then to St Mary’s.

The Golden Jubilee celebrations continue with a flower festival – featuring 50 displays in the church - and series of music concerts over the next three days. An exhibition of the history of St Mary’s is also on display in the church.

Team Rector and Vicar of St Mary’s, the Rev Andrew Vessey, said, “Right at the heart of our city this parish church and her people have always striven to maintain the faith and reach out in mission to our citizens. With more challenges than ever before facing our generation, this work must continue: of interpreting the gospel, sharing the sense of divine purpose and pointing to God’s values.”
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