Our motto text for the New Year has been chosen because 2019 sees a significant anniversary in the history of St Leonard’s, Padiham. On 8th January the building will have been open for public worship for exactly 150 years.
150 years sounds quite an achievement but in terms of church history it’s a modest period. At the end of November Mrs Joan Lord, a much-loved life-long member of our congregation, was called home at the age of 90. The thought has struck me that as a young girl Joan’s life must have overlapped with Padihamers who were there when St Leonard’s was consecrated on Friday 8th January 1869.
So our church has only been in use for two lifetimes! That rather puts things in perspective. Buildings are temporary and come and go, as do people. But what lasts is the message that we preach. Or as Isaiah puts it, “the word of our God endures for ever.” (40:8) Meaning that not only is our message about Christ unchanging, but also that its effects are everlasting.
Our church is a beautiful, useful, adaptable building and I thank God that we have such a great place to meet in the heart of Padiham. But the focus of 2019 shouldn’t be the building but rather the Christian faith we believe and proclaim. Above all may 2019 be a year in which we energise and commit ourselves to play our part fully as we celebrate the anniversary; and so may we pass on the Christian faith to future generations of Padihamers.
In verse 5 of his hymn ‘Thy hand, O Lord, has guided’, Edward Plumptre challenges us with these words:
And we, shall we be faithless?
Shall hearts fail, hands hang down?
Shall we evade the conflict,
and cast away our crown?
Not so: in God’s deep counsels
some better thing is stored;
we will maintain, unflinching,
one church, one faith, one Lord.
Yours in Christ