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An Invitational Church

A poem by Lesley Pendlebury

Our church stands red and proud against
a winter sky. Edwardian turrets echo
early fairy tales.
They have a magic that invites.
Before the church a narrow garden lies
and nature beckons, temptingly, to

Here is a single clump of celandines
and snowdrops sheltering
by the porch
where now and then a vagrant sleeps.
Here is the hard-bare earth where children play
beneath the branches of the tree
they climb before they
weave their way to school

Here, at Easter, we process and past the early
Dogwood, bear our holy cross.
Upon Ascension Day we punctuate the sky
with Heaven-bound balloons,
And here beside the iron gate we sometimes stand
to welcome joyful brides
or offer solace to
The ones who mourn.

The earth itself is here to serve.
For here is the spot beneath a briar rose
where Sacristans must ground the remnants
of Communion wine.
Here in the summer is the patch of herbs –
comfrey, thyme, parsley, dill
grown to share
with those who pass.

Here the gardening party toils.
Stoutly clad,
they cut and mow and plant,
their figures re-creating age old
tasks, they bend like gleaners in a
Millet painting.
Sweltering in summer sun or
braced against the wind

Here is the wall where little children
walk with confidence,
clasping Mummy’s outstretched hand.
Here on a summer’s day I see Martine
settling her vicar’s table
in the shade beneath
Magnolia trees
seeking shelter from the sun

Here is the lawn on which
we set our stage
and make our music
for the neighbourhood
whilst donkey rides and face paint stalls
and visitors on penny farthings
captivate and thrill
our annual party guests.

Here in all weathers come the faithful
on their way to church,
and here come all the rest who
walk this way.
To cross our garden makes
their journey slightly less –
and yet – perhaps they also feel the
comfort of this hallowed space.

It does not matter.
summer, autumn, winter, spring –
God and His church are here
for everyone.