I remember in the year 2014 speaking to you about the sadness that many people felt at the fire which had taken place at the Glasgow School of Art. You will know again that another fire has severely damaged that building which was in the process of restoration and hoped to be reopened next year.
Most people know that the building is an iconic building, designed by the great Scottish architect and artist Charles Rennie McIntosh. People from all over the world come to see it, its design, it’s shape, the detail are a thing of wonder.
It opened in 2 phases in 1899 and 1909 and housed different aspects of Glasgow’s school of art – its architectural school, its school of fine art, design and more recently digital design and innovation. It has produced many fine artists, designers and architects over the years who have gione on to be world recognised and take many of the greatest prizes.
The School of Art represents the greatest aspirations of a city to recognise and train its artist, designers, architects of the future. It tells us of a city that is not just about grubby money or faceless projects. It tells us about a city that is interested in spirit and dreams and looking beyond. It tells us of a city who hold its artists in high esteem, its architects and designers
All of this is symbolised in this great building that we call the Glasgow School of Art, a building which represents the best and which, even 100 years later, was a thing to marvel at and wonder. Sadly again it lies in pieces, reduced to rubble by this fire, worse than the fire of 2014.
Poetry, songs, art, design are things of the spirit. They come from deep within the spirit of human beings. they raise us up, they make us soar, they carry us to different places, they have a power in them which is impossible sometimes to put into words.
When we come to Mass or Church there is a sense in which we take part in things of the spirit. The songs, the readings, the prayers, the movement are all a kind of dance that we take part in collectively. Although there are many people here we are focussed on colour, song, words, movement. It is a thing of the spirit.
Today at this Mass those readings that we listened to feel and sound like poetry to our ears. They have a rhythm, they have a truth, they use images which stretch and test our mind. They speak about mountains and yet are not speaking about mountain, they speak about trees and yet are not speaking about trees. They speak about trees being brought low and yet are not speaking about this.
Just as poetry tickles our ears, just as poetry makes us think more deeply about things, so these readings are speaking about something else, much more than trees, saplings and branches and birds.
Locked in the symbolism, the rich imagery of the readings is a strong message that God doesn’t need much to do great things. Just as he only needs loaves and fishes to feed a great crowd so he only needs a sapling or even a small seed to create a mighty deed. He can create from a small seed, a tiny sapling a tree in which all, in which everyone, birds from across the sky, from every description can come and rest. Its not about birds and branches and trees , its about the kingdom of God being a place for everythine – the doors are wide open, the gates are not padlocked, its not for the few, the tree is large with branches that shoot out as that all can come.
What we have in the readings is the universal message. That it is a call to everyone, that everyone is welcome. That the tree is created ofr all to rest in its branches. That doors are wide open and not just a crack so that we may aqueeze through.
When we come to Mass its colour, its movement, its songs, this collective thing that we are involved in is a thing of the spirit. Just as great art and great poetry and song, just as things of innovation and design make the spirit soar, so here too the spirit soars because it is hearing a message of joy, light and life. Songs and poetry and art makes us see things differently, so being here makes us see things differently. St Paul speaks exactly about this in the reading at Mass, seeing things differently through the eyes of faith – we travel by faith not by sight. Artists and song writers and innovators see things differently – we see what we see they seem to have powers to see things differently, another dimension, another way, with a more penetrating eye.
When we come to Church and mass we are seeing things differently. Its not about what we are to eat for our lunch, not what we will be doing later, not about the worries and concerns of life but it is about having a far seeing eye. An eye that looks to the horizon, that sees the bigger picture. It is the eye that is within the artist, the musician , the designer, it is the eye of the spiritual man or woman.