Thursday, November 1, 2012

St. Michael's Without

St. Michael's Without, located in Bath,  is traditionally the site of the first church that stood outside the city wall. The place outside a city wall is often regarded as a place for those who are marginalised and excluded by society, exactly the people that Jesus Christ mixed with. Religious worship has been carried on this site for many centuries. 

In the middle of the Church the visitor or the pilgrim can find the Communion Table, designed by Stephen Budd. This striking piece has legs made from Glastonbury bog oak which is 5000 years old and a top made from burr elm. The top was originally one piece with the jagged edges on the outside which Stephen cut in half and then turned the outside edges inwards to create the dramatic fissure along the centre. 

To some people it had spoken of the temple curtain being ripped in half at the moment of the crucifixion, and to others the gap down the middle has represented a journey to be made or a path to be followed. 

St. Michael's Without has a Cafe, as do so many Anglican Churches. This of course is not a practice followed by all Christian Churches, so it can surprise a non-Anglican visitor. However, it is interesting to understand how and why this idea works in a Church. This cafe has two aims, of providing hospitality and generating income to give away to those in need. The church is currently supporting ASHA in New Delhi. Moreover, many locals and visitors go to the church cafe in order to find some peace and stillness, making it easier to pray. 

Does a place like this interfear with the holiness of the Church? Is this respected by all of the Christian Churches? Is this an ancient practice? These are questions which have to be answered. Nevertheless, it is an interesting and modern way of attracting people to come to church, promoting thus prayer and a Christian way of life, within the current globalised, secular and digitalised era. 

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