Jean-Francois Millet – The Angelus (1857-59)

It became one of the most reproduced paintings of the nineteenth century. It shows two individuals pausing during their harvesting of potatoes for prayer. After completing it, Jean-Francois Millet wrote ‘The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed’.

The painting had been commissioned, but when the purchase fell through, it was sold for 1000 francs. Less than thirty years later, it exchanged collections for 750,000 francs.

I found it interesting that between being completed for the commission and the actual sale, Millet added the steeple in the background. It certainly adds aesthetically to the work of art. But it is also a reminder of the connection between personal faith and the witness of the Church. This Sunday we will consider the steeple, and how the architecture of our church building is a reflection of, but also speaks to, our Christian faith.

Samuel Taylor-Coleridge once noted ‘An instinctive taste teaches (us) to build (our) churches with steeples which point as with a silent finger to the sky and stars’. The pointed steeple of St. Andrew’s is a reminder of the Holy One and of Eternity, built upon the four-square base of a stone tower, a reminder of the worship of the people, calling for us to participate.

A church steeple certainly points us ‘up’, but there is another dynamic to be considered also … just as a lightning rod reminds us not only of flashes in the sky but also a power that descends. I will hold this part mainly for the sermon itself, but warmly welcome you to join us!

Have a look at the Order of Service below (we will be receiving new members with great joy) and also the invitations to grow in Christian study and community during the week. Sunday mornings a nursery is offered for infants and a programme for children during the service. And free parking is available on the streets around the church and in the public surface lot off Queen Street just behind the church.

The bells they sound on Bredon, And still the steeples hum.
‘Come all to church, good people’ – Oh noisey bells, be dumb;
I heard you, I will come.                                     (Richard Milnes)

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