Friday, May 21, 2010

Most Blessed, Glorious, and Holy Trinity

The parish in which I serve as associate priest (Holy Trinity Anglican Church, in Thornhill, Ontario) is steeped in history. It is the oldest continually used church building in the Diocese of Toronto. The church was completed in 1830 and dedicated by Archdeacon (later Bishop) John Strachan in February of that year. It 1840 it was widened to include two side aisles with pews. I'm told by Prof. John Hurd, who gave a lecture on the architecture of the church last year, that this was accomplished by raising the roof. The original trusses from the first roof are still in place with the new trusses constructed several feet above the original ones. This is all the more remarkable, given the fact that the building was disassembled (the boards marked and numbered), moved, and reconstructed in 1950 in its current location.

In future posts I do hope to offer a bit more about the history of this remarkable Georgian building (more parish history can be found here), but today I wish to highlight the latest addition, a new set of stained glass windows. The church has windows dating back to the 19th century, most of them designed by the renowned firm, Robert McCausland Ltd. Recently, Andrew McCausland (the fifth generation of McCauslands to operate the firm) dropped by to review some of our windows. A family was wishing to offer a memorial for their parents. Andrew suggested that given the fact that the parish is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, a Trinity window for the interior doors of our church entrance would be very appropriate. So in this year of our 180th anniversary, and after some drawings were exchanged and approval received by the family, our new Trinity windows were installed this week. They are indeed are a glorious addition to the building.
The image is modern in design but incorporates a very traditional set of Christian symbols. At the centre of the image are three rings that represent the three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The rings intersect each other and yet are distinct in and of themselves, underscoring the nature of the Holy Trinity as constituted by distinct persons yet of one being. Around the symbol of the Trinity are a series of smaller circles, in sets of the threes. These represent the twelve apostles, who in their triad groupings reflect the divine life of the Triune God lived out in Christian community. More importantly, though, they move outward from the centre toward the corners, bringing the Good New from Jerusalem to the four corners of the Earth. The horizontal and vertical lines represent the straight way of the faith, the road upon which we journey as Christian people, and from which we strive not depart. The lines are both horizontal and vertical, indicating that the way of faith takes place both in this earthly life (the horizontal) and has a heavenward completion (the vertical). As these roads intesect they form a cross, the means through which Christ wrought our redemption, and yet reminding us that if we should follow him we must take up our cross. The curving lines represent the temptations that threaten to draw us from the way.

The Canon will dedicate the windows on May 30, 2010 (Trinity Sunday - our patronal festival). They are given by the Rutherford family to the Glory of God and in loving memory of their parents, Midge and Douglas Rutherford. The Canon and I both had the wonderful privilege to minister to Midge until her death in 2008 at the age of 99. She was a delightful lady who lived in a local retirement residence. Midge was fond of telling us that she remembered first hand the Halifax explosion of 1917. When we visited for our monthly liturgy of the Holy Eucharist, Midge had the special ministry of setting out the hymn books and prayer books. She welcomed people with a wonderful sense of hospitality. Whenever we would offer a word of thanks to her she would brush it off as if we were being silly in thanking her. It has certainly not been the same without her gracious presence. This window is a loving tribute to Midge and Douglas, and a beautiful gift honouring our Holy Triune God. We are most grateful to the Rutherford family for this special offering that is sure to enrich our shared life, and ever remind us as we enter this special house of God, of the Holy Trinity that gives us life.