Corona Virus Devotional Pieces


Passing Through Church Doors Again

This week - 16th August 2020


I live with rhythm playing in my head all the time. I relished the honour of being a baritone one section leader in an eight-part choir. I have sung in musical theatre such as My Fair Lady, The King and I, Two by Two, and Anything Goes. Singing literally set me free and is at the core of my Christian faith. I rank singing up there with preaching, praying, praising, lamenting and mourning. Whether in good or bad voice, singing a song rooted in soulful passion is like kneeling at the altar all over again.

So, you can imagine I am struggling with leading singing-less worship. As I have heard some of you say, why attend church if there isn’t any singing?

People are dealing with this dilemma in two ways. In Britain, church folks are pretty much following the guidelines passed on to us from the government. In the USA, people are divided by singing or not singing. Some churches observe government directives while others choose not to let the government meddle with their religious and spiritual practices. After all, the American ideal of separation of church and state was originally planted by our mutual forebears in the non-conformist tradition. Naturally, my heart feels divided on the subject.

Covid-19 has brought a new sensibility to corporate singing. Never have I considered that singing together could be a protest or entitlement. Now, my prerogative toward singing together is something I am being asked to leave at home. One of the prized jewels in my understanding of Christian faith has fallen out of the crown. What then is at the core of Christian worship if singing is not involved? I can tell you; worship is not about me and my privileges. Worship is about God and Us.

In this time of lament, we are all having to let go of prized biases and privileges, aren't we? No congregational singing is a cross we must bear in this present time. If we follow Jesus’s steps through this pandemic, we would know that loving our neighbour is far more important than lifting our voices in song at church. Our hymnals will remain shelved, shut and unhandled. This time, passing through church doors again we will arrive as the Body of Christ praying and listening out for God’s song to us.

My Song in the Night

O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night, Come to us with Thy tender love, my soul's delight. Unto Thee, O Lord, in affliction I call, My comfort by day, and my song in the night. O why should I wander, an alien from Thee, Or cry in the desert Thy face to see?       

From  Psalm 77:6  Southern Appalachian Folk Song

Timothy Meadows, Liverpool




Passing Through Church Doors Again

Last  week - 9th August 2020








Passing Through Church Doors Again 

2nd August 2020

As we approach September, it is looking like we will be able to gather for in-person worship. Passing through holy gates is a powerful image rooted in prophetic lore. Reading the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 43, God enters the temple by way of the eastern gate. Did you ever stop to think that God enters the church with you when you pass through the doors? Gathering for worship in person is very important. God is with us when we gather in God’s name. When people are there with hearts and minds attuned to God and one another, our worship is full. Just as the prophet Ezekiel would record, God departed the temple because hearts and minds were adrift toward idols. God leaves through that same door of entry and the people then enter into exile.

Church doors give off impressions, don’t they? For instance, when you see red church doors it indicates it is a reformation church. Open church doors beckon the world to enter for worship, fellowship and renewal. For these months church doors have been locked. We have been looking through windows and holding printed prayers. It has been a long Lenten fast. We have not been able to share holy communion. We have not embraced or been able to shake hands between us. Easter and Pentecost celebrations have passed by us. Fairs and performances remain in lockdown.  It has been a grieving time and a lamentable period where God has collected our tears (Psalm 56:8). Re-entering the doors of our place of worship is significant with a host of emotions and anticipations welling inside of us.

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus enters and cleanses the temple. Jesus is infuriated and declares the temple’s service and ministry bankrupt. Jesus presents himself as the new temple in which God lives. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:18-19).” Jesus was clearly referring to himself as the Temple.

So, you see, passing through church doors is loaded with powerful stories as God beckons us to faith-fullness. What we must not forget is that we arrive at those doors out of love and care for our sisters and brothers. We bear Christ as the body of Christ in the world. As our church doors reopen at the eastern entrance, think about what we mean to each other and what we mean to God who enters with us. After such a time of exile as this, each of us must come understanding we have all been carrying the angst and trouble of this time. With respect for one another we will cleanse our hands, wear our masks and keep a safe distance. We will not sing in this strange time. We will simply pray and open our hearts, eyes, minds and ears with our beloved community to God’s renewing power once again.

Let Us Pray:

Holy God, pass through the gates of our lives. With hope and thanksgiving, we will assemble in your name. As each of us discern what is best for us to do. Guide us out of respect for our sisters and brothers. Even as we choose to remain at home or venture out, we thank you for your Spirit's presence. We pray especially for cleaners and custodians who sterilise and prepare our gathering places. Now hold us into the future, Eternal One. Amen.

 

Timothy Meadows, Liverpool