Sunday, November 04, 2007
We had a great family day yesterday. First, in daylight, we paid a visit to Southwell [say ‘suv-el,’ rhymes with ‘shovel’ – not ‘South-Well’] Minster, the diocesan cathedral. It is an amazing church.
We went because the Minster was hosting a Christmas Market in the nave. It was packed out. And it was great to see so much activity, and commerce, taking place. Historically, the nave belonged to the people, and that space within a church was used as meeting place for all kinds of community activity. That was the way it was, before someone invented the fixed pew; and from that point on, where pews were adopted, it was impossible to use the space for anything other than (a particular form of) worship. The space was reclaimed by the Church from the community – missionally, a disastrous decision.
The pew played a major part in creating the sacred/secular divide.
I’d like to build a pyre of pews, and place an effigy of whoever invented them on top.
Given the rate at which local shops and post offices are being closed down, there is greater scope than there has been in living memory to open up the nave again, for all the people.
Afterwards, we had lunch in one of the surrounding villages. And Elijah came face-to-face with a shire horse, which washed his hair in its mouth!
Southwell Minster , church at the heart of the community