Places to Be

IMG_0895It was a privilege this afternoon to welcome Antony Gormley to St John’s Church in the heart of the city centre in Peterborough for a celebration of the installation of his three sculptures ‘Places to Be’. These have been placed on top of buildings around the church and the invitation to everyone is to #LookUp. They are casts of his own body, made of sheet lead on a fibreglass shell. They explore what it means to be, to be in a space and to be a space of dwelling – not least around the church, to be a place where the Spirit of God dwells, inspires and fills with grace.

There are three poses – one embracing the sky, even the cosmos. One looking out to see what can be seen and wonder. One on the move, walking to a destination, but on a journey. Three ways of being – embracing, looking, moving.

IMG_0906We are each a place to be a person – created, loved and redeemed by God. Far more than just a thing, we are places where the image of God dwells.

The tagline #LookUp is both practical, you need to look up to see them on the skyline, and also metaphorical. They raise our sights and thoughts are we have to look from where we are to where they are and beyond them, even through them. We have to look up from our phones and take notice.

As is our custom in the church the celebration was begun with a prayer and this is the prayer I wrote this morning to reflect on ‘Places to Be’, being created in the image of God, looking up and God’s Spirit inspiring. It is my reflective response to these wonderful works of art in the city centre.

God of wonder,IMG_0917

as we lift our gaze

so may we find our hearts raised

to delight in the beauty of your creation,

the hope in Jesus Christ

and become a place to be

where your Spirit dwells;

to honour your image in one another;

to the glory of the Father. Amen.

© Ian Black 2018



About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough, Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral and Rural Dean of Peterborough. He previously served for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian is married with two sons. He is the author of three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His latest book is 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus' (Sacristy Press 2017). He has been writing online since the mid 1990s.
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