Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Weight of Years That Fill the Place


May 21. 2005. Trinity Church, Cornish NH. In 1808, at the urging of a young college student named Philander Chase, later to be bishop of Ohio, an Episcopal church was built, and remained for almost two centuries a place of holy worship. Not long ago, as the Episcopal Church was drifting from its historic faith, Trinity was finally closed and the lovely church in the midst of its churchyard filled with those who have gone before stood unused and forsaken. Mere months ago it began to be used once more, and Trinity Church revived, as a parish of the Anglican Church in America.

Today Bishop Langberg instituted Fr. Brian Marsh as the new rector and ordained David Moody as a deacon. A vibrant congregation joined together in celebrating the one Sacrifice once offered, and I believe the angels rejoiced, along with the blessed ones whose remains lie in the churchyard. . . .

The Weight of Years That Fill the Place

The weight of years that fill the place,
the many times the words were said,
the white robes humbly worn by men
with hearts on fire to spread His Name . . .
Now through windows clear and filled with sun
the solemn standing stones are seen
that mark the rest of those who prayed
and heard and feasted on these holy things –
those who now in patient silence wait,
gathered long and gathered silent here,
listening for the holy angel's final trump
that loudly greets the resurrection day.

The weight of years that fill the empty place
where words long said are heard no more,
and fire of hearts has cooled and dimmed,
and cherished truths are laid aside,
and pews left empty gather dust,
and week by week the altar lies unused,
and in the Yard where Christian dust lies buried
the sense of expectation seems to fade
with none within to hear the trumpet
of that final coming day.

The weight of years that fill the place that lives again,
where words again are said and heard and prayed,
where fire of hearts rekindled by the Spirit
once again shines forth, a holy beacon,
and a man to whom a key and books are given
humbly kneels and humbly prays before a humble altar,
receives a charge and gives a charge to the flock before him,
and all the stones that name the saints of days gone by
seem to glow and silent shouts of praise are almost heard
and hope renewed begins to fill the holy place,
and almost can the promise of the trumpet now be heard.

The weight of years that fill the place that lives again,
the place where words are said and sung and prayed,
where sweetly rises fragrant smoke in praise
of Him who makes and loves and judges men,
of Him who comes and lives and dies and lives,
and comes and feeds and comes and loves and saves,
of Him who comes and fills and pours His power.
of Him who Three is ever One, and One is ever Three,
in whom the gulf of death that sin has wrought
cannot prevail, cannot prevent the union now
of those who rest beneath the quiet sod outside
and those who at this altar pray in fervency,
in this place where weight of years is known
and past and present are but one,
as, in solemn joy they wait together
for that final blast of angel's horn.

The weight of years that fill the place today,
as, joining those whose robes of white have here been seen,
a humble man lies prostrate at His feet,
as chanted prayers are filling every voice,
and every angel turns his eyes to earthward,
and all the saints in silence give attention,
and at the placing of the hands upon him,
the holy Dove descends from heaven,
and a servant's heart is filled with power to be a servant,
and by him the timeless words of Christ are spoken,
and by his hands the Blood of life received;
and, silent sighing from the Yard arises,
and we and he and they await the Day.

The weight of years that fill the place,
the many times the words were said,
the sacrifice of praise so oft repeated,
so often spoken yet forever one,
and at this altar blessed union,
blest communion of the saints,
timeless time and never ending,
even when the trumpet comes.

Ed Pacht

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