Alison Myers, a friend of Jane, has offered this lovely thought which we can all relate to.
Many people are longing to be able to use the church buildings again. For some, this may be about meeting friends in the church community; for others, it may be about being in that physical place; for still others, it might be about participating in the formality of a properly corporate act of Holy Communion again. All of these are much missed. And our ancient churches have long been significant places of prayer, symbolic of Christian faith and the presence of God in our villages. They are rightly much loved.
But I do wonder whether this love of our places of public worship has had an unintended consequence: that we have become accustomed to thinking that faith is properly practiced, God is properly addressed, only in the public space of a church building; that prayer is only properly conducted when we are dressed and prepared for public view, as much on the inside as the outside. As a result we forget that God can and should also (perhaps firstly) be met and praised in our homes, that worship can take place around the kitchen table, that the God who knows our inmost thoughts and yet still loves us also wants the intimacy of the domestic space in his relationship with us. I wonder if our focus on public space as the proper place for prayer and worship results in a tendency to keep God at a safe arms-length and in the metaphorical public rooms of our lives.
I wonder, have you during this lockdown dared to invite our loving Father to your kitchen table or into your living room? Have you allowed yourself to meet with him in prayer and worship when you are undefended – in your metaphorical pyjamas – and perhaps most able to be open to his warmth and love, and challenge. Have you invited him into the private and domestic, and even messy, places in your life?
After all, and thankfully, our loving God is not self-isolating! You do not need to wait until public places are open again to meet with him. He is already a member of your household, one of those with whom you can spend time in the intimacy of your home, today and everyday.