Monday, 10 December 2012

The Worshippers Part 6: Visit to St. Luke’s, the Avenue, Kew

In mid-September I paid a visit to St. Luke’s Church in the Avenue not far from Kew Village and around a two minute walk from my house.  Why had I never been there before, considering it was so close?  Well, when we were planning our move from Surrey to London, the google search result to ‘evangelical churches in southwest London’ yielded one result: Holy Trinity Richmond.  After a visit there in December 2010 and hearing David Cooke speak, we’ve been there ever since.

St. Luke’s is an enormous structure – a traditional Anglican church build in the 19th century; its spire can be seen for miles around.  I’ve always known that hosts the Kew Community Trust, which uses the church hall to put on a variety of community and private activities including bridge and bingo for seniors as well as yoga, reiki, meditation and tai chi available to the locals.  The hall is also used for birthdays and weddings and there’s often some sort of celebration spilling out of the entrance on any given Saturday afternoon.

Given the enormous size of the church, I was very surprised when I walked in and directed to an area at one end – the former chancel which is now the worship space.  So the original altar and small bit of the nave make up the current chapel.  It’s quite beautiful, with all the stained glass and carvings, only it does feel a bit truncated, the hall having usurped the lionshare of the original holy space.

It was a small, intimate and lovely service with perhaps 15 children, who came back after their activities to sing a traditional Christian song; I think it was “Rise and Shine” – I recognised it as something my children had performed for chapel choir and primary school.  The service was also traditional with lovely hymns that I’d remembered from long ago.    There were around 60 people in the pews, including many families and older congregants.  The organ was massive and impressive, especially considering the somewhat confined space to which the organist played.

I enjoyed the sermon and there was something Reverend Stephen said that has stayed with me ever since.  He said that “where we cease to struggle, we cease to be” and this reminded me both of Descartes famous assertion and also eastern philosophy which says that when we cease to struggle – i.e. when we have left the vale of illusion though enlightenment, then we truly are.  When people say that all religions lead to God, they either haven’t really investigated the truth claims of the various faiths or their minimising or eliminating these very significant approaches to life here on earth and in eternity.

St. Luke’s has a sister church, St. Phillips located a mile away in another neighbourhood of Kew; advertisements on the noticeboard of St. Luke’s indicate that St. Phillip’s hosts meditation sessions which I’m curious to discover whether these are contemplative in nature.  So I plan to visit this church to speak to some of its worshippers soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment