April 24, 2020

Missing Our Church

We are fortunate that our technology enables us share communal worship virtually.  How limited our worship would be if we didn’t have access to the internet!  Still, being virtually together is a poor substitute for the closeness we feel there, one of the main impulses drawing us there each Sunday morning.  

As I watch on the screen the staff and members of our little choir wave at us at the end of each service, I feel a little melancholy knowing how much better it would be to shake their hands, exchange a smile, a pat on the back, or a hug.  It must be a feeling common to many of us.

But it is not only the personal contact that we miss.  It is the place.  It is the absence of the light that streams in through our sanctuary’s windows.  Most of us received as a gift Becky Rogers’s beautiful little book containing photographs and descriptions of the stained glass, but it is not quite the same as enjoying the spectral light that warms the interior of the sanctuary and our faces in the pews on Sunday mornings. 

Most Easters I spend a little time appreciating the War Memorial Window in the south transept, which features the image of the Risen Christ surrounded by scenes of strife and images of the six resurrection appearances from the Gospels and Acts.  Lying between and within the lines and colors of the glass are the stories–told and untold, remembered and forgotten–of men and women who died in a war that both shook and strengthened the foundations of our faith, stories of men and women who remain alive to God.

Nearby are the old stone font with its carved images of roses and thistles from which so many of us and our children and grandchildren were baptized, and the gleaming Celtic cross in the center of the reredos.  Both are powerful reminders of our Presbyterian heritage.  

We hear all the time that the church is the body of believers.  That is correct, of course.  But that body is gathered together for worship and fellowship in a place hallowed by the Word proclaimed from the pulpit and enacted in the sacraments, united by all the experiences of music, children, prayer, love, and fellowship we share together there.

“The Lord is in his holy temple” appears in script above the central doors of our sanctuary.  A temple is a place of worship and memory, a place to assemble to experience the presence of Christ in our midst.  It is our common home, a place of beauty offered to God and inhabited by God’s Spirit and God’s people.  It is no wonder we feel its absence so keenly.  It is no wonder we long to be there together again.

Written by Chris Wrenn

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