A Poem Celebrating the Sesquicentennial (150th year) of the founding of Grace Episcopal Church in Astoria.
They wanted a church for the future,
the frontier beginnings
and temporary accommodations, beyond
the first small church they had outgrown.
They envisioned a temple
like an exclamation mark of faith,
spacious, tall, and gracious.
The architecture begged to be
Gothic, with heavenward-pointing
spires, arches, and vaults,
not made of cold grey stone or
brick and mortar as in the old country,
but made of timber ·
from native forest,
wood of warm hues from old-growth trees,
fragrant when cut,
preserving the strength of giants
and the sway of the wind.
The joyful bustle and noise of building
began, with hoisting of beams,
planing and hammering,
doweling and dove-tailing
with Praise the Lord
and I’m on my journey home,
the plumb lines straight
from Heaven to earth,
they raised for God an abode
like a proud inverted ship,
a ship with a cargo of faith.
Mindful of tradition, they kept
from the first church
The Sacraments and Trenchard windows,
the organ, the bell, the granite
Baptismal Font, the blessed name
of Grace, and consecration on
Ascension Sunday. For the first time,
sacred sound filled sacred space,
revealing the sanctuary’s perfect resonance
when alleluias and amens
were thrust to the peak of the vault
and the firmament beyond.
By and by, beneficent worshipers
have adorned the church
with crosses and carvings,
pulpit and paraments, with
lectern, stoup, Stations of the Cross,
and one by one more stained glass
windows, transfiguring light
on days gloomy or bright.
As the woodwork has seasoned
to a mellow patina
from the glow of candles,
the sanctuary has retained each
day the Lord has made,
each baptism, confirmation,
Marriage and burial, has retained
feast days and ordinary time,
hymns, sermons, and pageants:
faith has happened here.
When we step up and kneel to receive
the sustenance of bread and wine, we
behold the fair beauty of the Lord
in His Temple.
When zealous children ring the bells,
venerable Thomas and Gloria exclaim
from the height of the tower:
This is the House of God
and the Gate to Heaven!