To the Glory of God and in service to our Lord - Narthex Dedication
Today is a historic day in the life of Farringdon Church
Today, is a long awaited day which marks the end of a one journey…
And, as is often the case, the beginning of a new journey…
Today is of course the day which the entire service is devoted to the dedication of our new Narthex
If you are like me and people, outside the church, ask about the construction that we had and you say that it is a new “Narthex”; you may get a blank stare coming back to you
The term Narthex is a uniquely Christian term and an ancient term
It tells a tale that “Narthex” was the term selected – I mean it could have been named a number of names
Here is some contextual explanation:
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar.
Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.
The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation (particularly catechumens and penitents) to hear and partake in the service.
The narthex would often include a baptismal font so that infants or adults could be baptized there before entering the nave, and to remind other believers of their baptisms as they gathered to worship.
Later reforms removed the requirement to exclude people from services who were not full members of the congregation, which in some traditions negated the need for a narthex.
Church architects continued, however, to build a room before the entrance of the nave.
This room could be called an inside vestibule.
In some Eastern Orthodox churches, the narthex will be referred to as the trapeza (refectory),
Because in ancient times, tables would be set up there after the Divine Liturgy for the faithful to eat a common meal, similar to the agape feast of the early church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
To this day, this is where the faithful will bring their baskets at Easter for the priest to bless the foods which they will then take back to their homes for the festive break-fast.
Our Narthex is the main point of entry into the church and therefore serves a vital role in presenting the first impression to all visitors and members alike
When I was in sales, I often thought of the notion that you only get one chance at making a first impression… and for us at Farringdon, what a wonderful first impression that we are able to make
The design that was ultimately approved communicates so many things to each person that comes:
It starts out early, beginning before one ever enters, with the beautiful stone masonry.
This work, which is in total continuity with the previously existing church, tells how this church has a deep respect for those that have gone before
Those that have laid a foundation of faith and our desire to continue on with their witness into our community
The steep roof draws the eye upward where our attention may be drawn to a number of things
Maybe it’s the bell-tower, which sounds the invite for all to hear, and all to come and join
Maybe it’s the beautiful natural setting, surrounded by majestic trees – especially what is known as ‘the heritage tree’ – communicating a message of comfort and stability
Maybe it draws your attention to the skies and our sense of the heavens – where God is the Master Builder… designing all… and purposing all
Moving from the parking lot to the walkway tells another tale
Gone are the quaint stepping stones, replaced with a gradually inclining wide and inviting walkway
There are no steps at the door any more, no uneven ground to navigate
Now, all that may want to come, be they in wheelchair or with a walker or just high heels… all are welcome, all are able to enter into God’s place of worship – without any barriers
Moving inside, one is immediately greeted with a welcome table, staffed each week with greeters and filled with information
Once inside, what once was a small vestibule large enough only to provide a double set of doors, is now a large open inviting space
The windows bring into the space a flood of natural light, calling our attention to God as the provider of all things… God as the light in the world
There is now our Lift / or Elevator which ties the entire church together
Stairs are no longer a barrier restricting part of the church for some and the message of hospitality to all is told in a real practical physical consideration
The space, separated by doors to the Nave of the church, is grand
The abundant size speaks of God’s overflowing and abundant grace and mercy, which we are blessed to share together with all that come
Now, since we have this Narthex, we gather after each service on Sunday for a time of fellowship over coffee or tea
No longer does everyone rush off to their busy lives, but now we are provided with a space to share our lives with each other
Inside the Narthex there is the memorial cabinet, which tie our stories with those stories of the past
We all stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us; we are given a window into the faithful witness and testimony of our spiritual predecessors
Farringdon is a church with 177 years of witness and testimony into the community. It has been here long before the city of Brantford was ever incorporated
It has stood / and stands as a beacon on the hill – a citadel declaring God’s presence in the world
Our new Narthex communicates so many things and what I have suggested is just a sample – but I would be remiss if I didn’t say one other very important message in today’s culture
Today, through-out our nation, churches are declining dramatically
Our new Narthex, this building project, is a deeply counter-cultural message
Where others are struggling, we are in some way adapting… and building
This is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit that is at work here
Outside the narthex, the corner stone reads “To Glory of God” – and that is precisely what ones can see with eyes focused on God
Any church building project is a story and our New Narthex communicates much indeed
And today we celebrate the Reign of Christ – the last Sunday of the Christian Calendar
Next week is the 1st Sunday in Advent
To all the politically correct statements of ‘relative truth’
Of how all religion is basically the same – just different expressions of the same message – Jesus says no!
Today as the end of the year we Christians declare proudly that Jesus is the truth… and Jesus the Christ reigns over it all
In our Gospel reading today Jesus give us a window into His purpose and identity, He declares
I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:9-11)
In that message of Christ from past, we have an everlasting truth for the present and future We meet the end of this year with Christ as the way in which we may have life
It also convey a wonderful message of Jesus as our Good Shepherd – of lovingly caring and watch out and over all of us
Over the Christian year there is a kind of journey through the mysteries of salvation.
The end of the year, which we mark today, brings us to the end of the journey,
And here we have the victorious Christ enthroned in glory.
In faith we believe that He has indeed conquered the forces of sin and death,
And he is already enthroned with God the Father.
In anticipation, we look forward to his final glorious appearance.
We are living in the ‘here and now’ with the God that “is” “always was” and “is to come”
Today as we celebrate the “Reign of Christ” the end of Christian calendar year
We celebrate the triumph that is Christ’s dominion over all
Celebrate because the victory is offered to all of us
This historic day in the life of Farringdon Church’s journey
Marking the end of the year by declaring that Christ is in reign over all… and the celebration of the completion of our New Narthex
Is made possible because many countless people took a role in the journey
As St Paul writes in 1st Corinthians
6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.(1 Cor 3:6)
We are celebrating today the Growth that God has made with us and we are also celebrating by giving thanks those that have contributed
A project like this is only possible if there are those that do planting work and those that do watering work
There are the countless hours of committee meetings over the span of ten years since this project was first thought of – although our Narthex committee wanted only to humbly serve with out recognition, I want to thank them now
I would like to publicly thank Helen Kennedy and Roger Crawford.
Helen who volunteered as chair of the committee in the last years was the key point person with countless details and decisions and burdensome challenges in which we all owe our thanks
Roger, with his years of experience was the ideal person to be the liaison for the church with the builders – but this was an incredible commitment of time. Whereby we, the staff saw Roger here daily giving countless hours to the project
Helen and Roger and naturally by extension also Dave and Janet did the work of planting and watering
The story doesn’t end there of course, there is need of a Special thanks extended to the congregation along with church and cemetery staff and their families for their financial support,
Flexibility and patience during the construction.
We thank P.C. Osburn and Associates for design and architectural services,
J.H. Cohoon Engineering, D. W. Cooper Contracting and Abcott Construction along with the many tradespeople, planners and inspectors who made the project possible.
All doing the work of planting and watering
Our Narthex is dedicated, this day November 21st 2010, to the Glory of God
It will serve in this community for years and years to come
It holds with it part of the story of our community – it further tells the new story to each person, that comes and will come, into our church… a dramatic and important message about God
And it will serve to help us all grow in deeper more meaningful relationship with each other and therefore with God
On the day in which we declare that Christ is King and reigns over all
It is the beginning of a new journey… in the life of Farringdon Independent Church
Thanks be to God - Amen