Sacred Architecture: Spires – July 28, 2023

It’s been amazing to see the installation of the final two spires over the last couple of weeks.  What a dramatic culmination of eight years of renovating the church building!   As you may have seen already, we’ve had a great deal of press and interest from the community as they watched the install of these impressive towers last Saturday.  

News 4 did a terrific story last week, and our own Stephen Trudeau was interviewed on Tuesday by CBC Radio and did a great job representing us. (Click on links at the end of this email so you can watch and listen to these stories).  You can also keep on the lookout for a Detroit Free Press article scheduled to run this Sunday (July 30).  A photographer from the newspaper has been at the church a couple of times to take before, during, and after photos of the installation.

We should all be very proud and thankful for the work our Preservation and Restoration committee has done and continues to do.  As I said from the pulpit on Sunday, a special thanks to Stephen Trudeau and Ken Morse, as they lead the charge. 

Spires have been a feature of sacred architecture beginning 12th Century.  Our spires were installed with the original building, but two of them blew down in a storm in 1871.  Our resident historian Kathy McGraw, shared with me a newspaper article from her research showing this event and it mentions the church.  On Wed, Dec 27, 1871 the Detroit Free Press published these words:

“The gale was so severe at Belle Isle that the old brick house was expected to fall every moment, and the fruit and shade trees were badly whipped.  The waves made a clean dash over the dock at the island towards night, a thing never witnessed before.  Perhaps, in all, a hundred chimneys were blown down in the city, and at least half of that number of sheds and dwellings were more or less destroyed.  It is understood that the balance of of (sic) the wood work above the roof of the Mariner’s (sic) Church is to be taken down, as the two towers blown down exhibited such decay as to cause a wonder that they had not toppled over before.” (Detroit Free Press, Newspapers by Ancestry)

Kathy has found other historic pictures with only two spires, so we can assume two blew down during this storm, and the final two were removed later.

As fascinating as the history and restoration of our great building is, I want to remind us, as worshipers of God, of the purpose of awe inspiring architecture, and specifically spires.  Like the modern day athlete pointing to heaven after a touchdown, goal, or home run, our spires point our community’s eyes upward to the eternal source of awe and wonder.  

Our scripture attests to this worshipful act of “lifting up your eyes”:

Isaiah 40:26.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: 

who created these? 

He who brings out their host by number, 

calling them all by name; 

by the greatness of his might 

and because he is strong in power, 

Job 35:5

Look at the heavens, and see; 

and behold the clouds, which are higher than you. 

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills. 

From where does my help come? 

My help comes from the Lord, 

who made heaven and earth

Try this act of worship, “lifting up your eyes”, the next time you are caught up in your own ‘stuff’ or situation.  In an act of worship and trust, go outside and look up.  Consider the magnitude of His creation and the power and glory he must have to create the heavens.  

Ps 19:1 says

The heavens declare the glory of God, 

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 

Consider how if he has THIS power, he has the power to give you a “peace that passeth all understanding” in your situation now. (Philippians 4:7) 

Next time you drive or walk past the church, don’t stop at admiring th

e beautiful work of the spires, but continue your gaze upwards to where they point.  The God of the universe who loves you and cares for you.

Blessings and Peace,

Rev. Todd