Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cornwall Day 16 - A Church Called St Pol

I heard a story today told by a Cornish man who found it funny, and yet a little puzzling. It went something like this:

"An American got out of a bus at Mousehole and stood staring at the charming buildings along the sea front. He approached a passerby, and asked, "Where do I pay?" 

The passerby paused, asking, "Pay? for what?" 

"Why, this!" said the man, indicating the village. "Isn't it a Theme Park?"

We all laughed. I think the Brits might puzzle over it because a Brit would recognize the village as a village, every time. The American, however, reckons he must have wandered into Disneyland.

We Americans simply can't help ourselves when it comes to 'cute'. Mousehole actually is, as you can see above, super cute. And it's even better when the tide is in! Cornwall absolutely specializes in this.

Today is a Sunday and so I walked along the sea wall from Penzance to the church in the village of Paul...which is another super cute place. It was the prettiest 5 miles you could ever hope to walk. And the church itself? Well, just look:


The congregation was singing the opening hymn when I walked in, because I was late. I didn't want to be late but the final mile was up a steep hill, and hurrying wasn't an option. As I came through the door a nice man saw me enter, and gave me his hymnal, liturgy and readings. I sat next to him, and he helped me to know what to do when I wasn't sure. 

This was clearly a church that knew the lively life in Christ. The vicar was very personable with his congregation, explaining things when he felt it would be helpful. And the hymns! How sweet to find that these were hymns I had grown up with. And the congregants sang them as if they had grown up with them too. 

May the mind of Christ, my Savior
Live in me from day to day.
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour.
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

Not surprisingly, I suddenly felt my eyes watering as I heard the age-old words being sung in that magnificent place. The choir and the congregation practically raised the roof. 

When it was time for the Gospel lesson, the vicar read from Luke about the baptism of Jesus.* He pointed out that one of the stained glass panels here depicted this scene, and encouraged us to walk by the panel after taking communion, to view it. And many did take this small detour, standing there gazing up at our Lord and the dove and John the Baptist and the onlookers. It was lovely.

In the end, after all the readings were completed, and the sermon, and the communion, and the prayers, the choir processed back down the aisle, singing,

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long!
This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long!

And as they processed, the man carrying the Cross of course held no hymnal. But he was singing every word of that old hymn, off by heart. Singing as if his life depended on it. 

It was all splendid.

Of course, there was a cup of tea and conversation, friendly people approaching the visitor with welcoming smiles. The vicar and his sister kindly gave me a ride down the hill to Mousehole, talking in their jolly way all the way down. I felt as if I knew them already, by the time we were at the bottom. Where else would you find this instant camaraderie, this true fellowship?

Must be a foretaste of Glory. 


See you along the Way!
the SconeLady

*The vicar also printed off the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, juxtaposing them next to Luke's Gospel in order to see and compare the three, together. Excellent!

photo credit: <a href="">Mousehole Harbour. Panorama. Nikon CoolPix P2. DSCN7484-7490</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

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