Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28-29)
It’s an interesting exercise to look around you and observe the images that clubs, organisations and businesses use to represent themselves. Perhaps the most obvious image to us as a nation is the Union Flag. Ask any British Citizen about the meaning behind the colours and symbols and you will probably receive a good answer. Members of an organisation will identify with its emblem or logo, its image or brand. They are used as an easy means of identification. It is the same with the Christian faith. The cross is our most significant image. The Chi-Rho symbol, the bread and chalice, the Celtic Trinitarian knot and even Alpha/Omega are also Christian logos. The obvious example is the fish. Ichthus is the Greek word for fish and has five letters (Ι-Jesus, Χ-Christ, Θ-God’s, Υ-Son, Σ-Saviour). Early Christians used it as a mnemonic and a ‘secret’ identification of Christian allegiance during times of Roman persecution.
St. Mary’s with Holy Apostles’ doesn’t have an emblem. The line drawing of St. Mary’s church used on our stationery has done well over the years. Our historic building is only half the story of who we are church. It was one of my initial intentions to find an emblem that we could use to identify with as a church. The logo competition generated some good ideas, which suggested that our emblem should speak of our faith in God as Trinity, while grounded in the place we live. The rising sun over the Scarborough seascape became our starting point as we discussed what was important to us. This image is the result. Thank you to all those who contributed and especially to Barbara Foster for many painted iterations as we developed the theme. So, what does it tell us?
The stunning nave arch-way at St. Mary’s contains this verse from Matthew 11:28. This text has been a deep well for generations who have drawn comfort from reading it in our church. When Jesus says “come” he isn’t speaking to individuals. The original language doesn’t have a personal pronoun (you) it just says, “come to me, everyone…” This verse is a great precept for our whole fellowship to follow. It promises comfort to us as an entirety, and as a kinship. We are not the only church with this text. You can find it over the same archway in Albemarle Baptist Church. So, our emblem needs some other things too.
The sea forms a border with half of our Parish. There is no surprise that the ministry of our church has been focussed towards the sea-faring community. We are chaplains to the RNLI, the Sea Cadets and the Merchant Navy. So, the sea-farers remain our focus. Even if employment in the bottom-end concentrates around tourism and retail, their activity still derives from being so close to the sea. A cobble is emblematic of the seafaring legacy of this coast. As an image it connects us with our parish. The cobble is the great-grandchild of the raiding ships that carried the Vikings who burnt down the wooden Saxon St. Mary’s church in 1066. Clearly the image of the cobble may need a little redemption! We don’t believe in the Norse gods. God is not an angry, fickle warmonger. Notice how our cobble shines from the inside and supports the cross-shaped mast and a bright-white sail. The cobble, the mast and the sail represent the Trinity. This one boat has three different facets. These facets are tied together in an interdependent unity and yet each part adds something to the whole.
Like a cobble, the love of God the father bears us on our journey through life. He shows us his love by sending Jesus his only Son into our human existence. Jesus died on the cross for our sinfulness, bringing us forgiveness and reconciliation with God. The cross is a mast that carries the sail of God’s Spirit enabling us to follow Jesus. The Spirit of God draws us into the comfort that Jesus offers for our heavy-laden souls.
This great hope of our salvation is so much more than forgiven, clean spirits. It is the promise of resurrection after death. Jesus has finished that great resurrection for us, and it is why the sail and mast of this cobble are set into the sunrise. Scarborough can seem like it is forgotten to rest the country, yet it is our great privilege that we are first to see the sunrise each day. We can hold an attitude of “backs to the sea,” because it is full of turmoil and fear. Our Christian faith, however, reminds us that the resurrection is the ultimate sign of our hope and challenges us to turn towards the rising sun coming up beyond the horizon of the sea. The resurrection conquers every fear. It is this hope we share with the people of our parish who face such difficulties.
Let me commend our new emblem to you. From here onwards we will use it to communicate who we are at St. Mary’s with Holy Apostles’ here in Scarborough. With blessings from Richard