Stones at a Remove

Stones at a Remove

A standing stone,
Place of gathering,
Landmark on a hill.
A place seen from far off:
Somewhere to aim for.

Speaking of more than stone,
Being more than a beacon:
Emblem of companionship,
Presence of encouragement
On faith’s journey.

Articulating rootedness:
Community of ages,
Speaking of destination
Even to those
Not knowingly on that journey.

Icon of Light.
Sign of Christ.
Agent of the Holy Spirit.

Virtually visible
Yet literally present
Where utterance enters heart;
Where conversations continue;
Where God’s love and relationships bloom.

Witness to life in Christ,
Inviting a threshold-crossing
Into standing in the flesh
Among living stones
Who continue to build, be built and to bless.

A standing stone,
Place of gathering,
Landmark on a hill.
A place seen from far off:
Somewhere to encounter God.

written 6th June 2015, Upper Church, Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield

I wrote this poem for Sian Lawton as she took on my former role as Ripon Cathedral’s online ministry co-ordinator back in 2015, but here in 2021 it has fresh resonance with the post-lockdown importance of renewing our ministry in church buildings.

It is a reflection on the complementary nature of online and church building-based ministry and worship. The standing stone refers to the Anglo Saxon gathering stone in the churchyard at Ripon (near its southwest corner, and which looks like a spent match) – an ancient place to gather in worship, but a very different expression of gathered worship to even what went on in St Wilfrid’s 7th century church on this site. Places and forms of worship evolve.

Online church, and the church building have in the poem the same role, and are guided by the same Spirit.

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