St John's Anglican Cathedral

St John's Anglican Cathedral
The Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. John's, Antigua, West Indies

Friday, September 23, 2011

Restoration and Recession

Restorations are expensive, time consuming, risky and at times contentious projects.  And that is in the best of times.  What does one say in these times?   The times of, let's say it,  "The Global Economic Recession."

Why oh why Father did you choose this time to call us to restore your holy temple? It feels unfair at times.  Our Faith is being tested.  I have called this Restoration a sermon in a previous post.  I now see it as even more.  I now see it also as being a metaphor for our current lives.

The Cathedral these days is a far cry from its former glory.  No longer is it the awe inspiring building, the ship of souls my sister called it, the beautiful place where Psalms were chanted, sermons delivered and the Gospel proclaimed.  It is now an unsightly, messy and slightly dangerous construction site.  A place where some rotten pieces of wood have been replaced but we are waiting to install a great many more new pieces.  Our shipments have been delayed by hurricanes and tropical storms that have mercifully missed us.  We have a little less than half the roof on and will be starting the work on the the rest at the peak of the hurricane season.

The Cathedral looks battered and bruised and the feeling you get sometimes when you stand inside is, will it ever come back?
The Sanctuary before

The Sanctuary now

But aren't our lives much like that?  Weren't we just a few scant years ago, paying our bills, planning vacations and enjoying a few luxuries.  We all wanted more and while there was suffering and terror in the world, we were confident about our future.  Now how are we doing?  Cost of living is up.  Gasoline prices have gone through the roof.  Businesses are closing.  More and more people are out of work.  House foreclosures are spreading like a virus and car repo men are very, very busy.  And the news around the world is bleak.  The governments of major countries are reporting financial crises that threaten to affect the entire world. 

Our lives look battered and bruised and the feeling you get sometimes when you look at it is, will it ever come back?

The scariest notion for me about these two scenarios is, are our darkest days behind us?  I have been through a few hurricanes and the hardest thing to deal with while you are in the middle of the storm is wondering if the worst of the storm has come.  As the storm rages, and even as you survive its ravages, you cannot help but wonder, how much more you can endure. Are you just seconds from a catastrophe.  And the truth is, until the winds start to ever so slowly abate, until the timbers break and the roof peels away like the top of a sardine can, you will never ever know.  But when you look back and you look down you will see you made it through, you will see "one set of footprints in the sand" and you will know who carried you through.

I dream,  I hope, I believe and I know that one day this restoration will be over.  The awe inspiring glory of the Cathedral will come back.  Sermons will be preached, Psalms will be chanted and the Gospel will be proclaimed.  Economies will recover, new businesses will open, people will return to work and we will start looking forward to our future.  We will make it through and we will look down and see one set of footprints in the sand and we will know who carried us through.  Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cathedral Souvenir Gift Shop

The Cathedral Souvenir Gift Shop was blessed and opened today.  This shop will assist us in generating funds for the Restoration.

The Site
Ground Breaking
Constructiono Underway
Gift Shop Completed
Inside the Shop
Inside the Shop 2

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The Saddest of Days
What a day Sunday was.  The 10th aniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  A tradegy of epic proportions.  The many memorials I watched were heartwrenching.  Ten years later and there is no diminishing of the pain, the loss and the grief.  However the day ended for me on a high note.  I watched the Science Channel's "The Rising."  I was uplifted by the efforts and progress that have been made at Ground Zero. 

Ground Zero is fast losing that name.  That name implies a scene of catastrophic destruction.  And it once was but a bold and ambitious plan has been in motion for years now.  The two towers will be replaced with four.  A memorial and museum will be constructed as well as a massive transit hub.  This place where so many died and were obliterated is now becoming a placed where many can find closure and peace and look to a brighter future.

Out of the pit of death and destruction that was once Ground Zero, a set of new edifices rise.  They bring peace and closure to the past and scream at our enemies that we are still here, still standing.  It reminds me of the scene from Antwone Fisher when he confronted his evil foster mother.  "It don't matter what you tried to do, you couldn't destroy me! I'm still standing! I'm still strong! And I always will be."

I am drawn to this Rising because it evokes a similar emotion within me as does this restoration project. These sacred and special places reduced to a shadow of what they once were.  Yet we are inspired to rebuild and create special meeting places for the living to gather, reflect and ponder the deeper meanings of life.  A place to hope for a brighter future.  I do not presume to suggest that the Cathedral is on the same emotional level as Ground Zero.  But I am unusually moved by the rebuilding efforts there and it fuels my zeal for what I am doing. 

The kinship of these two places lies in the human spirit's desire to rise.  We lift our eyes up, we keep our spirits high and we have high aspirations.  It is fitting that from the depths of our greatest tragedies we will endeavour to rise to a new and better future.  This, I believe,  is not a coincidence.  Our Lord and Saviour rose from death and went to heaven to prepare a place there for us.  I think we are following this path.

I dedicate this post to the glory of God and in heartfelt sympathy to families and friends of those who died on this tragic day.  May the souls of the departed rest in peace and rise victoriously in glory.
An artistic impression of the New World Trade Center

Friday, September 2, 2011

An Unusual Sight

The majority of the Cathedral has been without a roof for some time now.  We are patiently waiting for the arrival of our lumber from Texas.  Why Texas?  Because they were the only saw mill that could provide us with the size of beams that we require.  And while our Heavenly Father has spared us from nature's wrath, Irene was a weak tropical storm when it reached us, our shipping schedules have been severly affected.  The latest news is that after dodging the rough seas caused by the passage of these tropical distrubances, the ship ran aground in Tortola, creating yet another delay of three or four days.  But we would rather the lumber be late than at the bottom of the sea. 

In the meantime I have had to be patient with congregation members who are disturbed by the daily sight of their roofless Cathedral.  To the untrained eye all might appear to be well but a quick glance throught the windows shows what is not there.