St Botolph, Newton: Church Closed

St Botolph’s Church is the Lincolnshire village of Newton proved to be a disappointment. When one travels about calling at random churches, one risks their being closed. Locating key holders in advance is sensible, but it is fraught with difficulty, not least finding them to begin with and their being free just at the exact half hour you are planning to be there. St Botolph’s level of disappointment was in a league of its own, for not only was it closed, but a sign by its gate said it was open. Upon entry, admission was refused courtesy of a locked outer mesh door. Here, I was even denied the runner-up prize of inspecting the porch for ancient graffiti. So I took my leave and cycled off to my next point of call, having first turned over the ‘Open’ sign so no subsequent church grabber would be so cruelly deceived.

Before I departed, I noticed a ladybird accessing the locked porch while I was forced to stand without. To their credit, ladybirds do not steal church silver or carve their names into ancient wooden pews; they offer little menace to church wardens and PCCs. It reminded me of Psalm 84:2-3 (New King James Version):

My soul longs, yes, even faints

For the courts of the Lord…Even the sparrow has found a home,

And the swallow a nest for herself,

Where she may lay her young—

Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts...

The psalmist may be contrasting his own inability to attend the tabernacle with the sparrows’ and swallows’ nonchalant and easy access, which even make their nests there. Solomon similarly observed in the 28th of Proverbs that the lizard or spider

…skillfully grasps with its hands,

And it is in kings’ palaces.

The insects, the song birds and the lizards come and go as they please from palaces, temples and tabernacles. And ladybirds may enter medieval churches from which I was excluded. Yet know this: Lucifer and the chief princes of the angelic orders with whom he rebelled are forever exiled and debarred from the glories and honours of paradise. Though they were once amazingly beautiful, wonderfully wise, and awesomely powerful, it is the humble human whom Christ came to save and readmit to God’s presence. Hell was made for the devil and his angels, but the new heavens and new earth is being made for Man. The veil is rent in two; the terrifying cherub guarding the entrance to Eden is retired; the staircase to heaven is now more than a patriarchal dream, but a present, Christian reality. 

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. Rev 22:14015, NKJV

In life's eventide, at twilight,
At His door I'll knock and wait;
By the precious love of Jesus,
I shall enter heaven's gate

He the pearly gates will open,
So that I may enter in;
For He purchased my redemption
And forgave me all my sin.

-F.A. Blom, 1917