Mary Redcliffe: Comical Corbels

The Church of Saint Mary Redcliffe in Bristol is considered one of the finest architectural erections in England. Even Elizabeth I, a woman known for the parsimony of her compliments, reckoned it the finest in the land. When I called, I concurred with the old dame.

In one corner sit a number of old corbels, carved into the likenesses of people. These were stones in the wall onto which beams and other supports could rest, helping to share the load of the roof. Whether they were carved to resemble people the masons knew, or whether they are generic caricatures, I cannot tell. Yet these characters, comic and quirky thought they are, were once used to hold up a great church. In like manner, the Lord uses people like us- flawed, weak, foolish and quirky- to  build up and be a part of his church. Writes Apostle Paul:

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

There are those who sap the church, wasting its resources, damaging its standing, chipping away at its fabric. Then there are those who, though it be uncomfortable and awkward, support it. I would rather be a comical corbel than a smooth-talking, sophisticated Corinthian apostle who wrecks and distorts.