Rood Screen of St Andrew's Church, Folkingham

At St Andrew’s Church in the village of Folkingham, Lincolnshire, is a large, fifteenth-century chancel screen. Usually known as a rood, it separated the holier chancel area with its altar and priests from the nave in which the congregants stood or sat. Such screens were usually felled at the reformation, the wood given to the parish’s poorer families to burn. Quite how St Andrew's managed to survive the puritans, I cannot say. Historically, such survivors are wonderful; theologically, I despise them, for they erect barriers between God and man that the Lord Jesus sought to remove. The veil in the curtain was rent that we might pass through, not that we might replace it with wooden alternatives.

There is, however, a sense in which we Christians are separated from God right now. Although His Spirit dwells within and He will never forsake us, we are not before His throne nor in His actual presence. Until we die, there is a barrier between us; the glass through which we peer is dark; our presence in this body is an absence from heaven. One day, that rood screen shall be removed and into the very throne room of God shall we confidently enter.

Interestingly, and most reassuringly, the fine brass eagle-style lectern at Folkingham, from which the Bible is read, is on ‘our’ side of the rood. We might not be in heaven, and until our summons is received, we may not arrive before our time, but we do have His written word. Like the love letter of a long awaited sweetheart, God’s word encourages, strengthens and exhorts us on, until such time as we see Him face to face, when all obstacles, screens, fences and barriers are dissolved - forever.

The veil is rent; in Christ alone
the living way to heav'n is seen;
the middle wall is broken down,
and all mankind may enter in.

-Charles Wesley