Stories of Delight to honour

In Mark 1:11 we read the words of God to Jesus: “You are my beloved. I take great delight in you”.

These words are written just after Jesus’ crucifixion.

Jesus had friends who loved him. There were also those who detested him.

A bit like us all.

But in the midst of all this there is one constant fact. In God’s eyes Jesus always remained a delight.

The words of God to Jesus are also God’s words to you. Hear God saying these words to you:

“You are my beloved. I take great delight in you”.

Let these words be your life mantra, words you live by.

Every morning, when you wake up, and look in the mirror as you get ready, you could look in the mirror and say, “who are you?”

But say to yourself everyday even if no one else says this to you, “you are a delight, you are God’s beloved”.

God takes great delight in you.

We are living in difficult days, with now the second lockdown.

It would be easy to be very down hearted.

It is important to remain positive and to keep hope alive.

Here are three simple ways to do this:

  1. Everyday, count your blessings and be thankful. Give thanks especially for people who are a blessing and a great delight to you
  2. Live in the present and pay attention to now. Don’t be too focussed on the future. Focus on things that give you delight now, good company, good cuisine
  3. Meditate and pray. Do this by finding five to ten minutes each day to just listen to what God is saying to you. To pray is not to tell God what to do. To pray is to listen to what God is saying to you. Begin by listening to God saying to you, you are my beloved and I take great delight in you

As Chapel Community it is important to remember that this Chapel established in 1841 has been here for 180 years, and has a great history.

We can make this a special year by celebrating and taking delight in this amazing achievement, a witness kept alive, a candle kept lit, by small groups of people over the years.

It is a tremendous achievement, a great delight, we have much to give thanks for.

Along with the story of Mary Anne Rawson, there are subsequent stories of successive small bands of people who have sustained the Chapel and the House for almost 200 years. They have played an important role in the neighbourhood.

They have held the story of Mary Anne Rawson and the effect of her vision in the neighbourhood. In telling the story of Mary Anne Rawson, it is important also to gather, and honour and tell the stories of many others who have been part of the history. Their stories are also of great value. They are part of a small Christian community that has always been in the centre of the Chapel and the House.

They, and we, have been held together by the story of Jesus, shared in regular worship. The heart of worship has been reading the Bible, telling and singing the story of Jesus, lighting a candle of prayer, and sharing holy communion. Lighting a candle is a central part of worship. 

In addition to worship, this band of people has held and facilitated countless expressions of community activities including toddler groups, youth groups, craft groups, coffee mornings, open days, walks, and parties. They have maintained a beautiful garden. They have helped to maintain the buildings.

Around thirty years ago, the Chapel was at the heart of an increasingly neglected and deteriorating housing estate and neighbourhood. The Chapel itself was in a poor condition. Some internal refurbishment was carried out, but the external structure was in serious need of attention. Like the neighbouring estate, the Chapel was in a broken condition.

It would have been easy to allow the Chapel to decay and be demolished. This was what some members of the Chapel community said to me constantly.

However, fifteen years ago, with support from English Heritage, and Historical Churches Preservation Trust, grants totalling £260,000 ensured a completely new roof, external wall pointing, new windows throughout, internal replastering and painting, new toilets and kitchen, and a new heating system. Two thirds of the floor in the Chapel required replacement.

Fifteen years on the Chapel is still here, but now requires further repairs and repainting. It is important to keep this building of historic and architectural importance in good condition and protected. 

We can learn from our history, from excellence, and do what we do better, not least in honour of those who have gone before us, and as part of our Christian witness here.

We recognise the value of the Chapel. By staying here, the Chapel community have kept the vision and story alive here.

This legacy of the Chapel and the worshipping community here is an integral part of our vision. We are a small community working hard to maintain witness and worship, and manage the property.

We will ensure we mark the legacy and memory and stories of what the Chapel community has done, and celebrate Mary Anne Rawson, and all our stories, past and present.

The Chapel community is committed to building wider links with the neighbouring community, and work as partners.

Added to this the vision for the Chapel House may attract new people who may also want to engage in activities in the Chapel, and help to keep the candle lit for many years ahead.

Inderjit Bhogal

10 January 2020