High Chapel, Ravenstonedale

Commonly called the High Chapel at Ravenstonedale, the old congregational church dates to 1775, but inevitably closed ,in 2006, having joined the United Reform Church in 1972. I squarely blame liberal denominations for the old chapels’ closures. For having denied the gospel, the Spirit withdrew from them; for having little to offer a dying world, the local community withdrew from them. Today, High Chapel appears lonely and bereft, though I think it still has some function as a community centre or village hall.

A surprisingly modern, carved scripture verse still stands in the grounds, referencing Psalm 121:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?

This is a so-called Song of Ascents, which the ancient Hebrews sang as they climbed Zion or approached the sanctuary. Although Ravenstonedale is set amidst the hills and fells, the High Chapel has never been so low and forlorn. Sometimes, we must look beyond the church, beyond the chapel, beyond the preacher or pastor- beyond even the majestic hills- to see the Lord Himself. When all else declines, decays, descends and deteriorates, the God who made the hills remains high and lifted up:

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.