Full marks to All Saints Church, Ripley, North Yorkshire, for making visitors welcome. On a recent weekend in the area, I much appreciated a beautiful prayer with a lit candle beside it for visitors to read and reflect upon.
Dear God, As we journey through this world give us the grace to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. Help us to speak, think and work with honesty and compassion, To celebrate all that is life-giving, To restore hope where it has been lost, And to bring about change where it is needed. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
Ripley is one of about a dozen privately owned villages in the country – the Ingleby family having held sway there for some 700 years. The area is a magnet for visitors to the castle and for the 'world-famous' ice cream. There are many countryside walks and picturesque views to enjoy.
The church dates from the fourteenth century and was mainly rebuilt in 1567 and most definitely encourages all and sundry to 'come as you are', as seen on the notice advertising their regular Thursday cafe.
Flower arrangements were fresh from a wedding the day before, when I visited. A waitress in the the Boar's Head hotel reported they're currently catering for three weddings every weekend! Such is the backlog cause by Covid.
Just outside the main church door is a well-kept Easter garden, complete with miniature empty tomb.
Whether people cross the threshold in times of joy, or sorrow, there is much on display at this peaceful church to salve a broken heart as well as give cause for gratitude.
Gethsemane and Good Friday may not be far from someone's mind when pain or grief comes calling. I'm reminded of something John Swinton once wrote about times of pain on life's journey (in his book Practising the Presence of God, p. 15 ) when, all too easily, 'logic easily overwhelms hope'. But as another writer concludes, thankfully: 'We aren't expected to bear our pains unaided; we are expected not to have the strength; this is something which comes from God' (Anthony de Mello, Contact with God, p. 32) .
The oldest tomb and in the church is that of Sir Thomas Ingilby who, according to legend, was knighted by Edward III after he saved the king from an attack by a wild boar. Hence the family emblem of a wild boar celebrated in statuary as well as in the name of the local hostelry.