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Dedication at Diddington

At last – a chance to blog! Ive been a busy soul these last few days and also still feeling under the weather with a  cold. But, feeling loads better now and have an hour to play! So, whilst listening to Mozart’s Divertimento for Strings in D major, I’m going to post some photos of the splendid Dedication Service at Diddington on September 29th with Bishop David Thomson. Now, Bishop David has kindly posted his sermon for the occasion on his blog – and I hope he wont mind if I reproduce the text alongside the photos.

The project has been a great example of how a small church with a small congregation can with a vision and drive create new facilities within an old building.

Large group picture

From left to right:

Dave Dodman, Pam Dodman, Phil Simpson (main contractor) Bishop David, Edmund Thornhill ( patron)  Gerald Carpenter ( church warden) and Julian Limentani ( our architect).

Edmund and Annette

Edmund says it with flowers.

Large Dave and Edmund

Dave Dodman who had carried out a lot of repair work to the heating system with his  son Rob, along with refurbishing the pews and keepingan eye on what was going on. Here is is chatting with Edmund in the new meeting area.

Ornamental gourds grown by Gerald Carpenter in the background.

Larage happy group witjh Annette

Happy group with the Vicar in the middle.

Question and answer - large

Bishop David and Canon Alan Hargrave get ready to have questions fired at them for the ” Question and Answer” session after the Dedication Service.

In the background you can see the fine new altar drapings which Pam Dodman has made. I much admired Bishop David and Canon Alan for fielding calmly and informatively some very hard questions, not least on the current swine ‘flu precautions and the common cup and interfaith relations.

So, having posted some photos taken by Michael Irons on the night – many thanks to him- here is the text of Bishop David’s sermon:

This year our diocese of Ely celebrates its 900thbirthday. So, you might say; our church here at Diddington is earlier still, dating from at least 1086 when it was mentioned in the Domesday Book survey. It’s a reminder that even if 900 years is a long time, the people of this place and many others round here received the Christian faith at least as long before 900 as Chaucer is before us, in the days of the sixth century and the  Sutton Hoo treasure. And it all began of course with the life of Jesus another 6 centuries before that.

What a story the stones of this church could tell. How much change they have seen! And all through those years and those changes one thing has been constant: the two-way faithfulness of God and his people. Our Ely 900 collect puts it so well:

Faithful God,
we give you thanks
that we are your people
and you are our God,
in times of fruitfulness and times of need;
in times of opportunity and times of challenge.
As you have been faithful to us,
may we continue in faithfulness to you,
in witness to your love
and in expectation of your promises,
by the power of your Spirit
and through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

So most of all today I want to simply say “thank you” and “well done” to every one of you that has been involved in the project of faithfully keeping watch over St Laurence’s and seeing it so splendidly into the twenty-first century; still standing, still standing for everything that it always has, and now standing tall, flushed with pride. That’s an awful joke that you’ll have heard many other times today, so as you recover may I ask you to simple look round, say thank you to each other in the form of a smile, and then give each other a well-deserved round of applause.

What more is there to say? Well… Annette asked me to choose a Bible reading for this evening, and my mind went to the day King Solomon dedicated his amazing new temple, some three times 900 years ago from now, to the very same God we still worship today, even if long before the coming of Christ.

Solomon’s long prayer in 1 Kings 8 makes in fact just the same two points as the Ely 900 collect: God’s faithfulness to us, and our faithfulness to him. In talking about the first he looks back to God’s kindness to his forebears and his father David, and the way in which all the promises God made to David and his ancestors of old have been kept – and especially the promise of the temple, a place where God would dwell tangibly among his people. So look around this temple of today and see how the monuments, the furnishings, the architecture show the marks of every generation giving thanks to God for his presence with them, at the heart of their community.

Then Solomon turns to our faithfulness to God. In a way Solomon sees this as a condition of God’s faithfulness to us: keep God’s commandments, or else. That is how things seemed in the days of the Old Testament. But when Christ came, God’s people were able to see that all that is true – but the other way round. God’s love for us will never end: he simply is love, unconditionally and for ever. But love is always two way, and to come alive, to have not causes but consequences, it needs to be received, just as in any human love affair.

It is not a ‘deal’: you do this and I’ll do that. It is a matter of the heart; and if our hearts warm to God’s heart of love for us, then naturally we start to become more loving, more faithful, more Christlike too.

I could get quite sentimental about this, but as we are here to dedicate new building work I want to be rather practical instead. Turn round one last time and look at the new works – and ask yourself the simple question, how can we use them to be practical signs of our love for God and for all his people, those who come to church already and those who don’t, those who are near and those who come from far off, those who are young and those who are old – and so on.

God’s promise is that as you live out the dedication of these works to him today in practical action that takes his strength and comfort of his love and uses it to strengthen and comfort others, so you will know more and more that he is here with you, and be blessed yourselves. Amen.

The Dedication service and Questions and Answers session following was all part of our Benefice Mission Week ” Back To The Future”.  This Friday night (goodness me, thats tomorrow) we are having our harvest supper in Little Paxton village hall – with a Christian Magician called Tony Maidment. I am willing to be cut in half if any volunteers are needed – that might solve the problem of when I could do with being in two places at once!

October 1, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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