It’s been nearly 3 months now since we had to close our church doors. It’s not been an easy decision to live with and it has often been questioned if we should bow down to the will of state. The church has stood shoulder to shoulder with its local community in facing off this dreadful disease. I would ask you to be patient a little longer! Today’s announcement that Places of Worship may open is hopefully the beginning of the new beginning. I’m sure that over the next month or so the doors will be flung open again!
So, whilst we can’t physically get into our church building just yet, we can visit it through our imaginations. Use your own memories to remember the place and the people, and to journey in your own prayers into God’s presence.
Remember that Jesus said, ‘I am with you always’.
This is the threshold of a sacred place where countless generations of people have passed.
God invites us into his quiet presence, where we may bring our innermost thoughts, prayers, thanks, anxieties and fears. In the Book of Revelation in the Bible, we read of Jesus saying, ‘I stand at the door and knock; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come and eat with you, and you with me’. So take a few moments now to invite God into this space and time.
Sit in silence for a moment, and feel it enfold you. Sense in your memory the decades or centuries-old atmosphere of the prayers of those gone before you. Silence is God’s first language. Try to set your cares aside for a moment and absorb God’s peace as it passes into you and restores your inner calm.
Listen carefully. What can you hear? Do you hear footsteps, voices, traffic, music, the cooing of pigeons? The ancient stones of our church have soaked up the prayers and music and everyday sounds from ordinary people for years and years; they have witnessed sombre tragedies and great joys. Be glad to be part of an ancient tradition of faith which reaches back through time, and forwards into the future.
This is the start of most people’s Christian journey. The font represents new life in Christ, and heralds the start of our pathway in his light. Through the water of baptism we identify with Christ and the Kingdom of God. What or who do you most identify with?
The carvings, mosaics, children’s art
These may speak to you of creativity and history. Each piece is unique, just as each person is unique.
The richness of the stained glass is enhanced when the sun shines and may transport us beyond the ordinary. In your mind’s eye, gaze at them and try to feel the story they portray. Put other, mundane, thoughts from your mind and experience the love and dedication that was poured into these works of art to the glory of God.
Offer a prayer
Of course, we don’t have to be in a church to pray. So find a quiet spot. Empty your mind so that you can feel God’s presence with you, then talk to him. Try to listen, too; prayer is not a one-sided conversation. It’s about a relationship that needs time and space. Or write a prayer and place it in
front of God.
Honouring the dead
Our church has tablets and memorials to those who have passed through this life. They have gone, but their memory is honoured. Think of all those who have died and are now at rest. They are now with God and we should feel encouraged to strive for goodness in this life and look to the future without fear. It has been observed that where people’s names are spoken in some way they live on. Is there someone you want to remember before God
Educating the Living
Our Junior Church and Messy Church journey alongside of our young people. It’s such a privilege to let some of our experience and testimony brush off on them. And a greater privilege to learn from them. They stand on our shoulders looking to the future of this place just as we stand on
those of our predecessors.
The Communion Table
This simple table is the focal point of God’s presence during Holy Communion. All are invited by our Lord Jesus Christ to come to the table: sinners and saints, great believers and doubters, theologians and disciples. We gather to follow his command to share bread and wine in the belief that through them he feeds us, transforms us and sends us out into the world. What do you consume that feeds you most in and for your daily life? Remember that until ‘normality’ returns Communion is shared every Sunday evening over the phone by Janet and Jim.
This is from where we read the bible out loud. How many thousands of words of hope and justice and peace and dignity have been read from this spot?
From here the meaning and mystery of scripture is approached by both resident and visiting preachers. All of whom are led by the Spirit. The present ministers Janet and Jim are only here a while, so use them as much as you can.
There is something beautiful when a moment of truth hits us, and we discover something new about the world, our relationships, or ourselves. Might the living word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, have something to say to you today?
The organ, choir stalls and stage
Music is so central to our worship that the organ and worship bandstand holds a predominant place in our church building. We lift up our voices to God on high and sing his praises and glorify his name.
Which hymn or song resonates most with you? Find time to listen to it today.
You may see all sorts of people in a church. You may see those seeking peace or solitude, those helping with refreshments or arranging flowers; others cleaning or tidying the dark corners, preparing the church for a special
service or event. Remember that all of them are made in the image of God. Try to see God in them, in a look or a word or an action. See yourself, too, as one of them and remember that you also reflect the face of God.
It’s the people who really make up the Church. So why not finish your prayers now by picking up the phone and connecting with someone who you haven’t spoken to for a while? Share your hopes and fears for the future now that we seem to have this virus on the run!