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A very different Cathedral centenary
On Wednesday June 9, 1920, at 11am on St Columba’s Day, St John’s Church on George Street was inaugurated as the Diocesan Episcopal Cathedral by the then Bishop, The Rt Rev’d Kenneth MacKenzie. This happened in the wake of the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic. One hundred years later, we were busily planning our Centenary Celebrations when the message was received that all churches were to be closed as COVID-19 took hold.
Having just entered Lent, we never dreamt that we would not be returning to worship for Holy Week or Easter, Ascension or Pentecost. And yet maybe, the reading in the new Cathedral 100 years ago (read in Gaelic) was of greater significance than the gathered congregation could ever have imagined. It spoke of the church being made of living stones – its people.
Whilst it is hard not to be together in worship, hard to close the doors to those who love to come in and find some peace; we will rejoice when we can safely reopen at least for private prayer. But this time has reminded us that ultimately faith is not dependant on any building; faith is all about the Spirit filling us with love to live in ways that celebrate care, justice, joy and peace.
We are seeing glimpses of love in action every day, but faith reminds us that even after the fear of this virus has passed, we still want to walk on the highway of the Lord, where the hungry are fed, the homeless find shelter and the sick are cared for, old or young, rich or poor with no discrimination.
We may be celebrating our centenary in a way that our predecessors (pictured on the day we became a Cathedral) could never have imagined, but Zoom and YouTube services, posted service texts and Virtual Moments of Peace have reminded us that, while it is a delight to worship in a building, faith is never confined within it; and the power of God’s love that can transform us and the world, is unchanged.