At this rail my parents were married . At this rail they gave thanks and dedicated me to God in baptism. At the age of thirteen I made a public declaration of my faith, gave my life to Jesus and became a member of the church -- at this rail. A few years later, when tragedy struck, I knelt at this rail in the dark, shouting my grief at God and pushing Him away - only to find that the harder I pushed, the more aware I became of His loving presence.
At this rail we made our marriage vows and, later, brought our own children to give thanks and dedicate them to God in baptism. In time, at this rail, they too made a public declaration of faith, gave their lives to Jesus and became members of the church.
Also at this rail we have given thanks for the lives of my grandparents and parents and committed them into God’s keeping.
So many highs and lows of my life have been marked at this rail. But it’s not just me.
At this rail many baptisms, dedications, marriages and thanksgivings have been celebrated. So many people have responded to God’s call on their lives. At this rail there have been inspirational ministers and speakers delivering polished sermons and young people and trainee local preachers nervously giving their message. There have been choirs, bands and soloists singing their faith. There have been amazing and uplifting testimonies from international speakers as well as halting, stumbling testimonies from young people and new Christians which were just as genuine, moving and challenging.
At this rail countless people have asked Jesus into their lives or declared their faith. People have cried out their need, been filled with the Holy Spirit, received guidance, healing, hope, correction. Regularly men and women have received bread and wine and prayed with each other.
There is nothing special about this rail. It is not particularly beautiful or attractive. It is not a comfortable place to kneel. As countless caretakers will tell you, it is difficult to clean and polish, but, over the years, it has become ‘a thin place’, a place where heaven touches earth. It has become a place where people have met with Jesus. It has become a place where lives have been changed.
As we move forward with the redevelopment of our church buildings I would urge you to take a moment to look back over your own lives and your experiences of God ‘at this rail’. Share your stories with each other and give thanks to God. I would also ask you to pray that ‘thin places’ would quickly be established in our new church and that generations to come will meet with Jesus and grow in faith in this place.