There are five windows dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary in St Giles that trace her involvement in the saving work of her Son.
In the Lady Chapel we have the representation of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel’s visit, and the Visitation, when Mary was praised by her cousin Elizabeth and herself praised God in her Magnificat.
In the south aisle she is there at the birth of our Saviour in the Benson Window. At the west end Mary is depicted with Joseph presenting Jesus in the Temple in the beautiful Kempe window.
This evening on the Feast of the Blessed Virgin, our eyes lift to the east window which shows her at the foot of the Cross.
Then they are lowered to view the Bread on the altar which is the representation of her Son’s Body, crucified yet risen, given to us from the altar in Holy Communion, tonight enthroned for Mary’s feast.
We come this evening with Mary to the foot of the Cross.
We come, as at the eucharist, to plead with Mary her Son’s Sacrifice for a broken world.
This Church was built for that purpose, shaped initially like a Cross, so that the people of Horsted Keynes could bring their joys and sorrows to God with, through and in the offering of Christ’s body and blood.
Within these walls people gathered to celebrate Magna Carta, to mourn the Black Death, to hear the scriptures read in English for the first time, to mourn the fire of London, to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and to mourn the death of Queen Victoria.
In November 1963 Harold MacMillan suggested the Rector change the Sunday readings after President Kennedy’s assassination.
I wonder what MacMillan would have made of the times we are living through and the best Christian response? Our prayers must surely be with his successor as Prime Minister as she serves Britain’s best engagement with the world crisis of our own day.
I was at my window last month completing my tax return when I saw a car leaping across Station Road and crashing upside down. Two ladies from Thursday’s coffee group were pulled out relatively unscathed.
We gave thanks to God in St Giles the following Sunday.
Two days later the murder of a priest at the altar in Normandy shocked us all, and most especially this small group that worships with me in our own parish Church day by day.
We lamented before God in St Giles the following Sunday.
Faith’s an intuition that attempts, day by day, week by week, to make sense of events as disparate as these.
It’s the basis of hope, which is faith for the future where what happens tomorrow, good or ill, is seen to be in the hand of the God who in the words of the Psalmist turns the wrath of man to his praise. (Psalm 76v10)
We have placed the Holy Sacrament tonight beneath the most eloquent sight in Horsted Keynes: St Giles’ spire.
It’s a silent witness inviting all around to gather beneath it, to give thanks and pray to God.
As we, the faithful, obey its call to Sunday worship, we don’t always see answers to life’s upsets such as the two contrasting ones I’ve just shared, but we do regain our balance to be better equipped to love and serve.
We come to church this evening with the sorrow and confusion of our Holy Mother Mary on Good Friday. Like her we’re looking at a crucifixion but ours is a crucifixion of the world by forces of anarchy.
Like her we look up to Jesus on the east window cross and then down to the light of the risen Lord, before us in Communion, and also resident in our hearts by faith - for whenever believers look at a crucifix they see their risen Lord standing beside.
The challenge of the world’s crises puts a particular responsibility on Christian people to stand with St Mary by the Cross of her Son and pray with Jesus and Mary to the Father: Our Father - in this situation - hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done...deliver us from evil.
We Christians are salt and light because like Mary we can ask Jesus, by the sufferings he has borne uniquely, once and for all, to soak up the evil around us and turn the tables on it.
Our prayers and eucharists bring the potential of the Cross, which is like a mighty engine out of gear, into gear so the love of God floods into this aching world.
Paul says God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It was true of Mary at her Annunciation and it is equally true of us in our baptism and confirmation. That love is poured upon us so that, at our prayer, it may cascade extravagantly upon all whom we bring to the foot of the Cross.
So with Mary, before the risen Lord present in this Holy Sacrament, we keep silence before the Lord this evening, with joy at that presence and with sorrow at the troubled world that is far more on his heart than ours.
Jesus living in Mary live in us might be our prayer.
Jesus living in Mary live in them might be our prayer of intercession.
Let’s voice our prayer in silence for two minutes.
Mary at the Cross, Our Lady of Sorrows, pray with us and for us!