In 1881 the first St. James Anglican Church popped up on the Burrard inlet. There is a plaque in Gastown that states: ON THIS SITE STOOD THE FIRST S.JAMES ANGLICAN CHURCH DEDICATED 15-V-1881 BURNED 13-VI-1886. We often remind ourselves that the church is the people, not just the building; our gathering together for worship, the reading of scripture and celebrating the Mass.
On Monday October 2, the church doors will be open to welcome people to come in and sketch as it is World Architecture Day and our fabulous building is a unique example of Art Deco architecture in the midst of Vancouver’s glass towers and concrete boxes.
Having a beautiful building is a gift and we use our space in worship to give Glory to God. People often speak about feeling transported inside St. James’ with our Anglo-Catholic liturgy and by the acoustics offered by the building.
What we have is special, but what is essential as church furnishings go? Well, in the simplest terms: an altar and a font. Baptism and Eucharist are the central sacraments of our faith. They mark us as Christ’s own and nourish us with Christ’s Spirit through the breaking of bread together.
So if the church was to burn down again tomorrow, the church would not cease to be, because we (the people) are the church, and I feel certain that between us we could come up with an altar and a font. Our liturgy is very beautiful and indeed, transformative. However it is not the star of the show. Focus on Jesus present in the Mass, which is where true transformation and nourishment comes from.
I wonder what the people coming in to sketch on Monday will focus on. Where do you think they will find beauty in our building?