St Mary's Church, Stamford

St Mary’s Church in Stamford, Lincolnshire, is evidently the 'highest' of the town’s impressive parish churches. Several statues of Mary were found in the place, becrowned, and staring imperiously at the worshippers below.

Yet another feature of Anglo-Catholic worship is its love of altar rails and rood screens, fencing off the altar from the nave wherein the ordinary people sit. It emphasises the holiness of one part of the building, and the special priestly status of those who minister beyond it. At St Mary’s, the doors were locked; to the interesting tombs and features beyond I was denied entry. Human religion, even sincere and devout forms of Christianity which emphasise not God’s word, erects barriers and screens, steps and obstructions. Yet in Christ, the way is cleared, the paths made straight, the veil rent in two, the grimacing cherubim removed.

Spake the Saviour Himself in Matthew 11:28:

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest

Wrote His disciple and Anglican minister, Rev Charles Wesley, some 1700 years later:

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.

'Tis finished! All my guilt and pain,

I want no sacrifice beside;

for me, for me the Lamb is slain,

'tis finished! I am justified.