23 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (56) 23 July 2023

The Great West Window in Saint Editha’s Collegiate Church is the most beautiful, modern feature in Tamworth’s parish church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and today is the Seventh Sunday after Trinity (23 July 2023). Later this morning I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford before going to London for the commemoration of an old family friend.

But, before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

In the weeks after Trinity Sunday, I was reflecting each morning with Trinity-themed images from cathedrals, churches and chapels. That series came to a conclusion yesterday (16 July) with my search for the mediaeval Holy Trinity altar in Saint Editha’s Collegiate Church, Tamworth. This week, my reflections each morning involve:

1, Looking at stained glass windows in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The lower part of the West Window in Saint Editha’s Church, designed by Alan Younger (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The Great West Window, Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth:

Perhaps the most beautiful, modern feature in Saint Editha’s Church is the captivating Great West Window, ‘Revelation of the Holy City,’ designed by Alan Younger (1933-2004), one of the most important stained-glass artists in post-war Britain.

Alan Christopher Wyrill Younger was born and educated in south-east London, and began his career in 1953 as assistant to Carl Edwards, working on large-scale commissions that included the House of Lords Debating Chamber, the Temple Church and the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool.

He was inspired by an exhibition for the stained glass in Coventry Cathedral in 1956 and three years later became an assistant to Lawrence Lee, Professor of Stained Glass at the Royal College of Art, who had supervised the making of the nave windows.

Younger's first windows were made at the Fulham Glass House, using the Lowndes & Drury studio rented at that time by Keith New, who had worked with Lee and Geoffrey Clarke on the Coventry windows. Later, he moved to Crystal Palace where he set up his own small studio at the bottom of the garden.

His West Window in Tamworth, unveiled by Princess Margaret on 2 July 1975, takes its theme from Saint John’s account in the Book of Revelation of the New Jerusalem, a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21-22).

‘And in the spirit he carried me away … and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal’ (Revelation 21: 10-11).

‘And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb’ (Revelation 21: 23).

At the base of the window are the twelve foundation stones: ‘ The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel …’ (21: 19).

Below in the third light, is a star: ‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you … I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star’ (22: 16).

Above the foundations are crowns: ‘The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it’ (21: 24).

In the centre, below and above the transom, is the city pierced by the twelve gates and at the gates twelve angels.

To the left is the angel with the measuring reed: ‘Then one of the seven angels … came and said to me …’ (21: 9).

‘The angel who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls’ (21: 15).

Above, in the centre two lights, is an Alpha and Omega representing the words of God: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’ (21: 6).

To the right is a white dove, representing the Holy Spirit, mysteriously at work in the sanctification of the Church. The conception of the city, ‘coming down out of heaven from God … foursquare’ (see 21: 2, 16), is suggested by the four white shafts at the top of the four centre lights.

Further focus is given to the angel as the golden measuring-reed flashes across the city.

In many ways, this window is a bright symbol of a church that is rooted in over 1,200 years of history, lives in the present, and looks forward to the future in confidence and faith.

The lower part of the West Window in Saint Editha’s Church, inspired by the vision in the Book of Revelation of the New Jerusalem, a new heaven and a new earth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43 (NRSVA):

24 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” 28 He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29 But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn”.’

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!’

The west window in Saint Editha’s Church is a bright symbol of a church that is rooted in over 1,200 years of history, lives in the present, and looks forward to the future in confidence and faith (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Reflections from the International Consultation.’ This theme is introduced today by Michael Clarke of the West Indies, who writes:

‘The Consultation was expansive and self-expanding. It opened an area of the human journey which I did not know apart from the terms used; Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery. I found a critical need to revisit slavery as an institution transcending time and space. Listening to the Zanzibar story refreshed the awareness of how often humanity has acted from a place lower than the Creator intended, a severe misunderstanding of dominion.

‘Then there was the sense that while we strive to have the colonisers acknowledge their misdeeds fully with the view towards a more equitable society in which the teachings and principles of sacred teachers across the ages can be realised; we are faced with the reality that slavery is not behind us but has lived on right under our noses and thrives in virtually every part of the world.

‘This further awareness challenges how we have shared the Good News. It begs the question: have we been so caught up with making believers that we lost sight of the actual commission to make disciples? To be a disciple is to walk the way. Perhaps we as the Church must repent, turn away from the doctrinal posturing, and pay greater attention to walking the path of love and compassion in a world devoid of such but at the same time filled with growing places of worship. Love and compassion must be superior, as seen in the life of Jesus Christ.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (23 July 2023, Trinity VII) invites us to pray in these words:

Heavenly Father,
thank you that we can forge new paths.
Help us learn from the past and seek your will in the present
and lay our plans before you. Amen.


Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Lord God, whose Son is the true vine and the source of life,
ever giving himself that the world may live:
may we so receive within ourselves
the power of his death and passion
that, in his saving cup,
we may share his glory and be made perfect in his love;
for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The baptismal font at the west end of Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

No comments: