I miss church.
Rather, I miss the gathering on Sunday- it gives a rhythm to the week (and to the weak), deepens the questions and forces me to be still. I miss seeing people; especially older people whose grasp on faith and life’s vicissitudes seems more sure than mine.
I’m not going to be angrily lobbying for a return to the buildings just yet though: the risks seem too great (although the small army of- mainly male- clerics in their 50s trying to cope with their own feelings of loss and disorientation with their ‘warrior/control’ fantasies and want to be back now) and I think we learn more from ‘exile’. However, I’ve lost a sense of the rhythm of the Christian year: I forgot-until yesterday- that today was Pentecost.
I searched for some meaning today by listening to a daily service. I’m glad that God is God: I guess God judges less than I do and doesn’t bother overmuch with the packaging but just loves regardless. I couldn’t take the service- too many major chords and cliches: I wasn’t feeling it.
I came home and sought solace in a written service. I’ve grown to like these- simple and with lots of space and a great way to begin a Sunday and reconnect. This morning as I tried to pray, keep silence and read Acts 2, it just wasn’t happening: a group of people chose that moment to stand in the road outside and started chattering about their day (I live on a well used cycle route- this often happens).
I had no silence and became irritated. It always amazes me when people think reverends are like a cross between Jesus, St Paul, Mother Teresa etc- we are not. If anything, the effort of trying to appear beatific makes us more prone to passive aggressive judgement than most people. I had quickly written off the gathering as a chatter of smugness & tried in vain to concentrate.
Gradually I became aware of something deeper: there were hopes of a good day of cycling, but underneath that of Life, freedom, connection with friends and a sense of being little in a big landscape. Something profound was in the air and I caught a sense of it.
In the passage it says ‘How is it we hear, each of us in our own native language?’ I began to listen and sense something beneath the words that I’d otherwise -and have done so in the past-easily dismiss.
And then it was silent; really silent. I think it was the Spirit- just for a moment I had a sense of Pentecost.