Walcott Church: Ugly People

One of my favourite churches is that of St Nicholas at Walcott in Lincolnshire. There is a wonderful twelfth-century feel to the place, and, while it must doubtless have been subjected to restoration, later embellishments have been discreet and few. To enter that space is to step back into a simpler world; that plain church with its unadorned features and antiquarian charm invites us to behold the same sights as our ancestors.

One of the many things that struck me was the carved faces. Now I am the last man to complain about ancient carving, but these figures are…let’s just say their models were unlikely to win any prizes at the village beauty contest. I did not see many locals about that day; Walcott is a small village and I tarried little after departing from the church, yet I do hope the gene pool has improved in these past six centuries.

It is a wonder this church had need of a font, so unlikely was the prospect of these characters finding someone to marry. 

It will not be long before some goggle-eyed conspiracy theorist with a YouTube channel will appear suggesting these figures are evidence of alien visitations, which the local humans dutifully depicted in the church.

Doubtless, these folk may have claimed an 'inner' beauty, unseen to the naked eye.

It is worth remembering that God came not to save the beautiful and the exotic, but the broken and the humble. We are each uglified and ruined by sin, wholly corrupted and cruelly scarred. For us, the most stunningly, awesomely and mesmerizingly beautiful Being in heaven, the Word, came to earth that He might share His beautiful righteousness with the mutilated and blemished children of Adam. He exchanged His glory for our befouled swamp, His divine dignity for our humdrum humanity. Isaiah the prophet says in 53:2-3:

And as a root out of dry ground.

He has no form or comeliness;

And when we see Him,

There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

He is despised and rejected by men,

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

No Hollywood heartthrob, He, but a plain, common-looking man.

When they would begin the grisly process of killing Him, Isaiah adds:

So His visage was marred more than any man,

And His form more than the sons of men. (53:14)

Will you believe me when I say I wept just now when repeating these words? Does it not break the heart? What a dear price He paid for so unattractrive a prize. 

Do not be troubled if the vain and foolish consider you plain looking. Rather consider Him who thought you even uglier, but still loved you even more.

To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3, NKJV.