Meditation Monday

Discovering a Thin Space

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

I did not expect our trip to Britain to be one of such spiritual significance. Since we watched The Secrets of Britains Great Cathedrals during COVID, I longed to visit some of these impressive sites of worship. I loved the magnificence of Wells and Durham Cathedral and the specialness of Malmesbury Abbey. What I didn’t expect was the impact that the small Saxon church at Escomb would have on me. It has been a place of worship since the 7th century. It is small unassuming and humble, but it filled with the presence of God, a thin place where I almost felt I could reach through the veil to touch heaven. Evidently the Very Reverend John Habgood, former Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York called it “The jewel in the crown of the Church of England.” (Thanks Derek Jago for this information)

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Escomb church 

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Roof of Escomb church

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Saxon cross behind altar 

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Celtic cross 

There are no kings or queens or well known Celtic saints buried here, no ornate decoration to draw your attention but the whole sanctuary resonates with the voices of those ordinary people who worshipped there over the centuries. And those voices go back even further than the 7th century. The rounded part of the chancel arch was reassembled from the nearby fort of Vonovia and many of the stones both inside and outside the church bear the cross hatching which is typical of Roman stone work.

I love the carved Saxon cross behind the altar and wonder how many people over the century have used it to focus their presence on God and the wonder of faith.

We were privileged to attend a Celtic communion service there, something that now only happens once a month, but that has been celebrated in Escomb almost every week for over 1300 years. As I partook of the communion elements and sat in awe and reverence afterwards, it occurred to me that the greatest gems in God’s crown are like this – ordinary people worshipping in ordinary places with love and devotion.

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Celtic Service bulletin 

The service we used comes from the community of Iona on the West Coast of Scotland, a place that has been a spiritual home for us since we first visited it during our honeymoon 32 years ago. It was from Iona that, in the 7th century Christians came, spreading the faith throughout Scotland and into Northumbria. Linidsfarne Abbey on Holy Island was founded and from there many Christian communities including Escomb, grew. We were not able to visit Iona this time, so it was very special to be gifted with this place and this service that connected us back to our spiritual home.

I love the opening responses for our service and want to share them with you. You might like to find a comfortable place and three candles to light in the appropriate places as you read it. Close your eyes for a moment as you begin and imagine all those who stand and worship with you, that great cloud of witnesses throughout the ages who faithfully followed Jesus in their ordinary lives of devotion.

Leader: We light a light in the name of the Maker, who lit the world and breathed the breath of life for us…

We light a light in the name of the Son, who saved the world and stretched out his hand to us …

We light a light in the name of the Spirit, who encompasses the world and blesses our souls with yearning …

All: We light three lights for the Trinity of love: God above us, God beside us, God beneath us: the beginning, the end, the everlasting ones.

Prayer of Invocation:

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, stay with us.

With friend, with stranger, with young and with old, be among us here. 

Come close to us. that we may come close to you. 

Forgive us that we may forgive one another. 

Renew us so that, where we have failed, we may begin again.


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