The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

Associate Rector   

The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 01689 852843

Assistant Priest  

The Revd.

Bill Mullenger

020 8462 9624


December Leader

An architectural development of the 20th century may not seem quite the right place to begin this year’s reflection on Christmas, but as I hope to show, it may have something to tell us about how we might respond to the birth of Christ.

One of the mantras of modern architects after the 1930s was the expression ‘form follows function.’ The phrase was originally coined by the architect Louis Sullivan, although his original phrase included the word ‘ever’ - ‘form ever follows function.’ Sullivan himself said that he based his views on the core ideas of the Roman architect Marcus Viruvius Pollio who asserted that structures must be ‘solid, useful and beautiful.’ Unfortunately the expression ‘form follows function’ tended to lose the ‘ever’ bit and it was taken to imply that beautiful and decorative elements on buildings were superfluous and unnecessary, hence the plethora of ugly and functional buildings that were built in many post war city centres and housing estates. Form and function are vital in shaping the things we use, however, functionality and the consumer variety which we expect do not always sit well together. For example a pure ‘form follows function’ approach might just produce one design of teapot, or one main design of car or building. A good example of this uniform approach could be seen in former communist led countries.

Although Sullivan included beauty in his list of the essential qualities that a building should exhibit, how easy it is for it to be lost in cost driven functionality, form and resultant ugliness. Of course it can be argued that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet we know real beauty when we see it: a well proportioned building, restful on the eye, with features and proportions which have been included not because they have any function but because they convey interest and beauty, (one of the reasons why Bath is such a pleasant place to visit and the centre of Plymouth not so much), or a stunning painting or sculpture born out of real knowledge and craft, a piece of music, or a poem that makes us exclaim, ‘That is it, that is enough.’

The Greek Philosopher Plato developed this idea of being able to contemplate beauty without wanting to possess it, own it, change it, explain it, or use it for our own desires.

Consider the joy of holding a baby; we do not want to do anything with it, just to experience a surge of delight and joy in the miracle of life.

If we can find time to come to church at Christmas to see the Christ child in the crib, to worship Him in carol and hymn, to see the beauty of the flower arrangements, to hear children singing ‘Away in a Manger’, or when we wish ‘Happy Christmas’ to those we love and those in our community, this is beauty. We do not need to explain it, own it or do anything with it, but just allow it to take us towards the presence of God as all beauty can whether it is the setting sun or Mozart.

Christmas has enough stressful form and function. Contemplating the Christ child and God’s love lends the essential beauty.




Clergy Rota Downloads

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November Service Rota
December Service Rota
Christmas Service Rota
January Service Rota