18th November 2022

One of my favourite television programmes is The Repair Shop. A team of expert craftsmen and women repair items brought in by people from all over the country. The experts cover a wide variety of skills – carpentry, electronics, leatherwork, furniture, painting, clocks, dolls – the list seems endless. It is fascinating to watch these people tackle what to the unskilled appear hopeless tasks to restore these items to something like what they were originally.

But what I find equally, if not more fascinating is the variety of objects brought to the team. Sometimes they are toys kept from childhood, or items that have survived the Blitz; family heirlooms that have been damaged or allowed to deteriorate, items thought lost until discovered when clearing the house after the death of a parent. But what they all have in common is that, for the people who own them, they are more than just souvenirs, they hold precious memories of times and people now past, but still fondly remembered.

How far should we venerate objects? Baptists have always been suspicious of objects – symbols of our faith, in our churches. I have known even a plain wooden cross being denied a place in a church lest it become itself the object of worship, rather than a reminder of who we are worshipping. But is that a consistent view? What about the bread and wine at communion? How do you feel about lighting an Advent candle?

Me? On the whole I do find the cross or the candle a helpful aid to worship – but my grandfather might be shocked at that! Maybe, in part at least, it’s a generational thing!

David T Roberts