A number of years ago, Tim and I had a holiday in the USA; we were invited to a friend?s wedding in Chicago. It was the sort of holiday that we don?t usually have. I don?t know about you but I like to get away from it all when I?m on holiday and so going to an extremely busy city was very different.
Chicago is a relatively young city, having grown up (literally) during the 19th and 20th century beside the western shore of Lake Michigan ? and it is still growing ? as Tim and I sat and ate our lunch one day we watched the Trump Tower being built. Chicago is also full of strikingly different modern buildings that we both thoroughly enjoyed seeing from a number of different perspectives; we had a boat trip down the river when the guide told us all about the design of each building; we saw them from the various modes of transport we used; we visited the two tallest (one during the day and the other at night) and then saw them from a distance when we relaxed at the wedding reception on a boat on Lake Michigan. Such contrast between what we are used to in Norwich and what became familiar to us in such a short time in Chicago. In Norwich one of the significant buildings on our skyline is the Cathedral, reminding us that God?s church has been there for more than 900 years and pointing us to the heavens. In Chicago there were numerous churches, many with very large congregations, but each one was overshadowed, quite literally, by the buildings surrounding it. Even so, most of the church buildings stood out because of their traditional architecture.
All this got me thinking. We notice things that are different ? anything and anyone who stands out from the crowd because they are different. Sometimes it?s good, sometimes not! In the busyness of a major city, the churches stood out as a haven of peace. In life, generally, God?s church and his people are expected to stand out from the crowd, too, as an invitation to discover the peace that God offers, in a world that seems to be getting busier and busier, with stress a major problem in our society. Unfortunately not all our churches are able to be left open all the time to offer that haven of peace to the visitor, and we are sorry about that; even Burgh Castle with all its visitors has suffered after break-ins. During August there is an event called Open Churches Week when churches in the Norwich Diocese are open to welcome visitors. Burgh Castle Church will have special displays and a prayer space based on The Lord?s Prayer. Refreshments will be available in the Village Hall, too. As you know, the area around St Peter & St Paul Church, Burgh Castle are places of rest and recreation. God and his church have a significant part to play in our finding true rest and recreation. In the coming months, when some will take holidays and others will not, may I encourage you all to find true rest and recreation close to home; true rest and re-creation in and through God himself.
?Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.? Matthew 11: 28-29