23 June 2020
A Moment to Reflect -49
After weeks of waiting, this beautiful rose in our garden has finally opened up to reveal its heart-warming splendour… just in time to receive… not warm, welcoming rays of sunshine but a blustery, rainy downpour. It was worth the wait, though! And the rose creates its own kind of sunshine.
How we wish that so many more things might be able to open up again after so many weeks of lockdown and waiting but …we’re not there yet.
Of course, as many will know, yesterday in Scotland some places of worship did open up for individual prayer and reflection, but not for public worship as we know it. We’re working hard on preparing Kirkton Church to allow some limited times of opening in as safe a way as possible, but we’re not quite ready yet.
One of the great ironies for me about this whole business is that at the start of the year I preached a series of sermons about being a more open, more welcoming church that might live up to our own self-description as “A PLACE FOR ALL.” Exploring the way Jesus reached out to various people, I preached about being a church for “friend and stranger,” for “believer and doubter,” for “young and old,” for “rich and poor” and for “people of all abilities and disabilities.”
The sermon-series had begun by exploring some of the often invisible “NO ENTRY” signs that we inadvertently, carelessly, and even on occasion deliberately, place on our doors to certain individuals and groups of people. So, we spoke instead about developing an attitude of openness of mind and heart; doing everything we could to remove all the obstacles that prevent people from feeling ‘part of the family.’
Scarcely had the series finished than our doors had to be firmly shut, and a poster placed on them saying “Church Closed!”
Once we’d had time to think about it, we decided we needed to soften that statement and instead replaced our usual noticed board with one saying “The building is closed but the Church is still here to help.” In the end what matters most is not that our church buildings are open but that we as people are open to one another and to our wider community. As so often, Henri Nouwen expresses it simply and beautifully:
“Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World.