A church is only a roof over an altar, but it can also be a witness to the majesty and abiding presence of God. Everything in this building is here to speak of His love and glory, and how we can meet and know Him in prayer and worship, in confession and forgiveness.
Many of the things you see at Holy Spirit, Southsea are the normal, traditional and time-hallowed visual aids to worship. The vast majority of Christians, at all times and in all places, have found them helpful in opening the door to the reality of God's presence, encouraging a sense of prayerfulness, and pointing us towards 'the beauty of holiness'. If you are unfamiliar with some of these devotions, this brief explanation may help:
Jesus is the light of the world. As Christians we are meant to "shine as lights in the world to the glory of God the Father". Lighted candles remind us of this calling - and that our worship is meant to be full of the light and joy of celebration.
They help focus our attention and are welcoming and warming symbols of radiance. A white lamp indicates the presence of the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle. The perpetual presence of the Blessed Sacrament means that Holy Communion is always available for the sick and the dying; and also that, as we enter the church, we are immediately reminded of Our Lord's promise to be with us always - even to the end of the world. Red lamps burn before an altar, ikon or statue of a saint; a blue lamp signifies a statue of Our Lady Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
One of the most ancient and universal symbols of honour and reverence, and used in the Temple of Jerusalem where Our Lord worshipped. Incense signifies divinity, and was one of the gifts brought to the Christchild by the Magi who followed the star. It is also a biblical symbol of our prayers ascending to God. At Mass, incense is used as a sign of the things being set apart for God's use and treated with particular reverence - the altar, the Book of the Gospels, the bread and wine. We too are censed as a sign that we are included in all that should be regarded as holy and special - and are to be caught up in this timeless offering of praise, thanksgiving and sacrificial love.
Statues and Stained Glass
They serve the same purpose as statues of famous people or photographs of loved ones. They help focus our thoughts, reminding us that we are part of a fellowship and friendship which extends from earth to heaven. We are all part of God's great family, sharers in the glorious "Communion of Saints".
They summon us to worship and ring out as a sign of our praise and recognition as the bread and wine are consecrated in the Eucharist "that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Christ". Bells are a universal symbol of joy and celebration.
This is where the Sacrament of Reconciliation is administered. Believing that our sorrow for our sins and failures is always greeted by God's love and forgiveness, Christians make a confession of their wrongdoings to a Priest who represents God's reconciling mercy in the Church. So this sacrament gives us the opportunity and courage regularly to open our hearts to Jesus and to be honest about our faults and weaknesses. We can be sure our sins are forgiven when the Priest speaks the words of Absolution, expressing in those words the continuing authority to forgive sins. "If you forgive people's sins, they are forgiven: (St John's Gospel, Chapter 20 verse 23)
Lord in this place
at this moment
in my prayers
be with me