Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
Last Thursday was a rather unusual day for me for two reasons. Firstly I was at home in Scaldwell rather than being in Lincoln as I am most Thursdays. Secondly I was at home by myself as Rob had, for the first time since lockdown begun last March, gone into London to the office in order to work. It felt very strange being at home by myself. It’s not that I’m not accustomed to being in a house alone, as I lived for many years by myself before Rob and I got together, but this felt odd. I had got used to having company all the time and I had forgotten how the routine of my day went when I was on my own.
When it got to lunchtime I struggled to recall how I used to have lunch, until I remembered that, in order to break up the day a little, I would have my lunch in the lounge watching a bit of day time telly. I have watched many episodes of ‘Bargain Hunt’ in the past. Last Thursday, however, I didn’t feel the need to watch the telly while eating lunch, so as a change from my past traditions I sat at the kitchen table, listening to the radio and doing some number puzzles instead.
What was important was not where I ate my lunch, or indeed, what I was actually doing while I ate it, what was important was the lunch itself. The essential part of the activity was having food and that the food should be of good quality, nourishing and sufficient to sustain me until my next meal.
As I was eating I thought about our return to communal worship following the restrictions imposed during lockdown. Coming back together has felt rather strange after such a long time of being apart. It is still not as it used to be. We need to consider if it actually needs to be exactly as it used to be. It might be that something different is better than what we had before? We need to consider what the essential part of the activity is, what we are actually there for? What, like my lunch, is going to be of good quality, nourishing us and sustaining us?
As part of the liturgy for Morning Prayer there is a statement of why we meet together which says:
We have come together as the family of God in our Father's presence to offer him praise and thanksgiving, to hear and receive his holy word, to bring before him the needs of the world, to ask his forgiveness of our sins, and to seek his grace, that through his Son Jesus Christ we may give ourselves to his service.
This is the essence of why we meet together, exactly how we do this can change provided that the essential elements are there.
We ask for wisdom and guidance Father God, that we may always strive for what is essential in our lives.