Lindsay was a pillar of the church. He had been there for over fifty years, and was the longest-serving member. And he was a good and faithful servant. Every week, hours before anyone else arrived, he unlocked the building. He set out the chairs higgledy-piggledy, drew the curtains, and otherwise prepared for worship. Then someone else turned up and rearranged things just so.
As more people began to arrive, he’d station himself at the door. ‘Hi Lindsay!’ we’d say as he swung open the heavy door for us. ‘Mickey Mouse Donald Duck,’ he’d reply. Unable to read, during the service he often held his liturgy book upside down or open to the wrong page, but he watched closely and knew how things went. When he got the nod, he’d leap up and light the Christ candle, saying words he had memorized years before: ‘Jesus Christ is the light of this world.’
When the service was done, he’d collect up the books. ‘Scratch Cocky!’ he’d say as he took yours from your hands. Then he’d eat some cheese and drink some wine and jiggle up and down, announcing ‘Hollow legs! Hollow legs!’ When he needed a spoon, he’d ask for a shovel. When he needed sugar, he’d ask for sand.
Lindsay certainly had his oddities, tics and limitations; and had he been born at a different time, he might have been given a diagnosis. But what I remember is this: Week after week, month after month, year after year, Lindsay turned up, and worked, and welcomed, and worshipped, and wondered, and broke bread and drank wine with us all. Every church needs a saint like Lindsay, who shows us what it means to be faithful and committed and present.
Each year on 1 November, we remember the saints. Some of them are extraordinary (and read Lucy’s account of the wonderful Benjamin Lay here). Others are more ordinary, people like Lindsay who serve the church and witness to the power of simply turning up; people who, through their graciousness and gifts, their flaws, foibles and failings, show us how to live. But ordinary or extraordinary, all are alive in God: in Christ, we are one body: not even death can tear us apart.
If you would like to add names to the Cloud of Witnesses on our church wall, let me know: and we can do that before the service. (You could drop by in a covid safe way, or I can write it up for you.) If you would like particular names read aloud in the service, please also let me know. And know also that, during the service, there will be an opportunity for those who wish to say a few words about someone who has shaped and inspired their faith.
Emailed to Sanctuary 28 October 2020 © Alison Sampson, 2020.
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