Reflections from the Couch 10 – Change, it’s a coming!
So many people are writing about change. The change we will face after the pandemic is over, particularly in the church/worship space. While I totally agree that change is coming, it’s in all spaces. How do we do medicine, shopping, sport and even concerts and music? It may never be the same again.
Of course, as I said, we are interested particularly in the church space. Sometimes people think it’s one massive entity, where everyone is doing or aiming for the same thing. This could be further from the truth. I know at Wembley Downs Uniting we have never seen the worship on a Sunday as the be all and end of our faith. It has always been the beginning, giving us insight and energy to take our faith, and our love and compassion out into the wider world.
We do always seem to meet on a Sunday, in the morning, although for many years we had a service once a month in the evening and with a shared meal. Perhaps we do need to become more flexible on what day we get together, since Sunday is now not seen as a rest day for many. Yet I still like the idea of a sabbath, when time is taken to reflect and gather oneself for the start of another week. So it’s open for discussion!
It does seem funny that I have just finished writing a sermon for Pentecost, about the Spirit of God, the divine presence that goes where it will, and urges us all, church goer or not, to do the best we can in the communities we are in. I totally agree with this.
So then why do I have a commitment to a church gathering together? Particularly since after the period of isolation, we have much more online material, and ways of communicating that is not in person. Clearly it doesn’t need a building!
What are we doing or being when we meet that I deem necessary to my life?
Well, I do think finding meaning and purpose in our lives, and developing a spiritual framework to guide us, can include a church gathering and a faith journey. Because our spiritual framework affects how we live and work in the world and how we deal with challenges, both sorrows and joys. It doesn’t require a belief in something we call God, of course, but for many of us this sacred element is part of the story. And our commitment to it leads us to seek and explore together, in person!
So I believe a church gathering is a time to become aware of the divine voice found in all of life, including our own, to sense community with those who might have a similar passion and faith, and to support one another as we do the work of Jesus and be his disciples in the world. It is has very little to do with a sacrificial sacrifice of Jesus. We don’t gather to worship Jesus, like an idol, but follow him, and we don’t gather to worship God, as though God is a person who needs worshipping, but to sense the presence of the spirit in our lives. And in the lives of those who have come before us.
It also has to do with our common humanity and the rights of every person to feel safe, have enough to eat, be educated, be included in societies decisions, be recognised as of value and share in the resources available. And the rights of the rest of the non-human creation, for without them we will not survive. Jesus spoke so much about inclusion and unity of purpose that it’s hard to believe this is not the main message. I believe it’s about how we see the world, how we see each other, and what we can contribute.
So how do we come together to worship post Covid-19? Well for a start I think it will be a long time for it to be post. We have to live with these changes for some time if not forever. And maybe singing and hugging will not come back for a while!
That’s the practicalities of getting together, and they are worth doing. I must admit I am wanting to reconvene, as I miss seeing my community gather in friendship, fellowship, and in hearing their visions and ideas.
Many of us find a church community helpful in getting this big picture. So I don’t encourage people to come to church to keep me in a job, but so that we can journey together in love and make a difference in the world, or in our little patch anyway.
Seems like a good reason to meet. Even if society thinks it’s kind of strange.