This week in Coping with COVID, UBC member Kris White shares some observations with us from Sunday.
So last Sunday we got to meet in person for the first time in a long time. In my house, this meant weeks of planning had come to its end and the big day was here! So I was recruited (told really, lol) to do the ushering for the outdoor gathering. It was amazing to get to greet everyone back and point them to their seats. Not sure if you know this but if you usher, you sit in the back of the church so you are ready to help with any needs that come up during service. In the courtyard, with social distancing, that meant I sat in the back facing the big wall of the sanctuary building.
As Amelia started talking about the cloud of witnesses that have gone before and in particular the ancestors of UBC, I was looking at that wall. That’s when it occurred to me that we all leave our mark. In the building before me someone, whose name I will never know, worked hard to make their mark, and it is still there today. If you look at the picture, you can see where the bricks start to change color. Look just below the second row of windows and you can see that the “new” bricks which were laid during the second phase of construction have a different look to them. Why was this? Did one of UBC’s past committees decide to change the vendor that supplied the bricks? Had so much time gone by that the weathering on the bricks made the color change? Did the vendor run out of the clay that had the slightly pinker hue than the original bricks? We may never know why there was a difference in color but it probably wasn’t intended and was most likely something out of their control.
The next thing I noticed on the wall were the windows. One window has amber glass at the same level as windows with stained glass. Originally all the glass was amber but was changed to stained glass in the 1960s/70s. The reason that I assume, that particular glass wasn’t changed was because that window was inside the room that held the modern air conditioner. Was this just forgotten about until someone walked in the courtyard? Did our ancestors decide not to change it because of the additional cost when “no one will see it anyway?” The next time you are in the sanctuary think about how the space would be different with only yellow/brown light streaming in.
My favorite thing is the original stained glass. Did you know that there are only 3 original stained glass windows, one of which you can see from the courtyard? Inside the building, the stained glass on the south wall looks like it matches the dove at the top, but from the outside it looks different! Our ancestors worked very hard to make a seamless look when they added the blue stained glass below the original dove window. At some point they must have thought “there’s no way we can match it,” or “maybe we should just get a new stained glass dove,” or “it is too hard,” but they did it. They did the work of finding the closest fit to the original. They decided that building on what was there was worth the trouble. They welcomed the new artist with the faith that they would be able to preserve the past work while enhancing the look and feel of the space we now find so sacred. Was it easy to do? Probably not. Did it require hard work and faith that it could be done? Most definitely. Was it done without a trace of the scar and pain it was to do? Apparently not, because I found the evidence on the outside.
UBC is living a time that will no doubt leave a mark for the future generations of UBCers to see. While we prepare for this time of calling our new pastor, let us remember the lessons that wall can teach us. Lessons like, some choices may be out of our hands but end up standing for a 100 years. Or, the choices we make now will bring a different light to UBC. And finally, even if there are scars, we can build a new time at UBC with faith and hard work.