The Holiness of Beauty – Pentecost 16

I was privileged last Sunday to worship with the community who call Liverpool Cathedral their spiritual home. The magnificence of the Cathedral, completed just 30 years ago, gives your spirit wings simply by the beauty of the holiness that surrounds you on every side. Or is it the holiness of beauty?

Whether in a towering cathedral or a simple hut made of earth and wood, the people of God deserve nothing less than worship that takes us to the threshold of heaven, and if this is not our experience at least some of the time, something is seriously amiss, and we will need to start again.

At Holy Comforter, we work hard each week to get worship as right and as true as is humanly possible, not because we want a moving liturgical experience merely for our own benefit, but because we know that worship can be a pathway for many to find meaning, community, and joy. Many can trace back their spiritual journey to a liturgy where they awakened to a deep awareness of God’s transforming love for the first time. Worship changes us, forms us, and ignites our passion for making a difference where we work and live.

This weekend, we gather once again around the bread and wine to retell the story of God’s relationship with the world, this time through Isaiah’s powerful and emotional image of a landowner’s disappointment that his carefully tended “vineyard,” in which he has provided all the conditions for a rich harvest, has not lived up to his expectations. Jesus will offer the religious leaders of his day a parable based on Isaiah’s story that carries an urgent message. If they fail to care for what the landowner loves, they will lose the vineyard and it will be given to a people who produce the fruits of faithful living.

 All of us have been given a trust from God to care for something that God owns, loves, and cherishes. We have been entrusted with a vineyard planted by God. It includes our life, our families, the wider human family, our career, our church. That is what stewardship is all about. It is about knowing in a deep place, that everything we have has its origin in God and God wants us to take faithful care of it all. Good worship has the power to move that knowing from the mind to the heart, and from the heart, to the fruit of grateful and generous living.

Passing into Beauty

“We do not merely want to see beauty, though God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

— C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory