Here is the talk by Rev David Walsh at the switching on of the Christmas Lights in Kettering Town Centre on 24th November 2016:
If we’d been standing here in the Market Place exactly a hundred years ago, quite a few of the buildings would be familiar to us.
But if we were to travel further back in time – two hundred years, three hundred years, four or five hundred years, eventually there’d be just one building we’d still recognise. That’s the Town Church just behind us.
The Town Church is a gift from Kettering’s past to us – to Kettering’s present and to its future. It’s a gift to each one of us here.
Every day people wander into the church, which is open to anyone. People come in who aren’t members, who aren’t even sure if they have any faith. And yet still they come.
Sometimes they don’t know themselves what brings them in. Some want a place for quiet reflection. Some come to mourn loved ones who’ve died. Sometimes they come to cry & even to howl out loud. But they also come to celebrate, to say ‘thank you’. There’s no charge for any of this. It’s a gift.
The church belongs to the town. Many people in Kettering don’t realise they’re entitled to be married here, to have christenings here, even if they’re not regular members.
We want the church to be even more open to the people of Kettering.
In four weeks time – just 3 days before Christmas Day – we host the Town Carol Service, a service not just for our regular crowd but for the whole Town of Kettering. A service for you.
And this evening the church is open. Do come in and look around. We’re offering mulled wine to the first hundred visitors.
And we want to hear from you how we could make this church even more your church, so that it is really is Kettering’s Town Church. There are plenty of other churches in Kettering and we’re keen to work closely with them. But this historic building has a special place in the heart of the town, a special place when Kettering comes together on special occasions like this. We want to do that better. And we want you to tell us what we need to do.
So next year we’re going to ask you. Next year we want to contact as many people as possible in the Town to hear what they want from the church. What we could be doing differently.
We also want to work with people of other faiths and of no faith at all for a better Kettering.
The gift of this church is only possible because of a far more significant gift.
When we meet week by week, we come because we’ve discovered that our lives and everything in them are a gift. We come to give thanks, in joyful gratitude.
And as Christmas approaches we celebrate what is for Christians the biggest gift of all. That God has given us not only our lives and all that we have, but given us also Himself, in the person of Jesus. We celebrate this man and we try to follow him. He shows us what it really means to be truly human. And we believe that because of what he’s done, we become able to be more truly human ourselves, to live life in all its fullness.
I hope that when Christmas finally arrives, it bring gifts you’re able to treasure. And a new year full of unexpected blessings.
God bless you all.
(Picture by Alison Bagley)