4 October 2018: Visit from Beavers
Well, not actual beavers but Beaver Scouts. I went with my wife to the church at about sunset as she was meeting one of our local Beaver Scout Colonies to tell them about the church as part of their Faith Badge. Our Ringing Master came as well. There were fourteen Beavers plus adult leaders and helpers and some parents.
My wife got them to stand outside the church for a few minutes so she could tell them how it was built and how you can tell that parts of it were built at different times, particularly where the top of the tower is built of brick resting on the earlier lower brick structure. She didn’t mention that some of the windows are different shapes, reflecting the fashions when they were put in. I like the scratched sundial by the priest’s door, which enabled the priest to work out the time before the days of clocks, but it is difficult to see from the eye level of a six-year-old.
We then took them inside the church without turning the lights on so they could look at the stained glass windows. My wife told them which Bible events were pictured in each window. They were also interested in our Millennium Painting, “Christ yesterday, today and forever”, which replaced a stained glass window which was moved to the porch when our extension was built at the end of the 1970s. The left-hand panel shows past scenes from our parish, the centre panel has a glowing figure of Christ with outstretched arms and the right-hand panel shows scenes from our parish at the time the painting was made, a picture of our church, a Common Worship book and a computer. The computer now looks somewhat old-fashioned!
We then turned the lights on and got the leaders to split the Beavers into two groups. One group went up the tower so the Ringing Master could explain how the bells work and give a practical demonstration of ringing. He had built a model church bell out of Lego so he could explain the mechanism to them.
My wife showed the second group the 800 year-old font. I lifted the rather heavy lid so they could look inside it. She talked to them about promises, particularly the Beaver Scout promise: “I promise to do my best to be kind and helpful and to love God.” (That’s the version for Christians, Jews and Sikhs. There are other versions for those of other faiths or none.) She told them that that rule was declared by Moses and pointed out the painting of Moses on our west wall. (It is paired with a painting of Aaron.)
Then she got them to sit in the front pews and told them why people come to church: “to say thank you to God, to say sorry to Him and to ask Him for things”. (I would have included praise.) She asked them what they would ask for and explained that we can only ask God for things that would be acceptable to Him. I then read the parable of the Good Samaritan to them from our lectern Bible as an illustration of someone being kind and helpful to a complete stranger.
Finally I helped them light votive candles. My wife asked them to think of a particular person close to them as they did so.
After that the two groups swapped over and we followed a similar procedure with the group that had been in the tower.
After we had finished with both groups one of the leaders inducted four new members into the Beaver Scout Colony. Then it was time for their parents to collect them.
As we were waiting for all the parents to turn up I overhead one of the leaders, who must have been around fifty, tell a colleague that he had learned more about Christianity that evening than he had in the whole of life before then. That’s very worrying!