Moving furniture round in a room reveals things we might not have noticed before. We may discover something that fell behind a bookcase years ago and we had long since forgotten about. Or, we notice a picture on the wall in a different way, where before we had walked past barely noticing it, now we see it more, and start looking at it in a different way.
Holy Trinity Church is undergoing a similar process at the moment, with builders in the church building carrying out the alterations we have discussed over recent years (and which were summarised in the March Parish News). This will inevitably result in us seeing the church building, and probably also the church hall, in a different light. I wonder if we may also begin to see things differently in our church fellowship and our worship together? Maybe as well as refurbishing things within the church building, we need to consider refurbishing ourselves and our worship.
It is inevitable that worshipping in the hall, being smaller than the church, as well as sitting on chairs and not pews, using different furniture and being arranged differently to how we have become accustomed to over the years, will make things ‘feel’ different when we come together to worship.
Does that make the worship any less valid than when we are in church? Of course not. Does that mean God is less likely to be present among us? Of course not. So the different feel is perhaps more to do with ourselves and less to do with God.
Perhaps this is a good time for us to reflect on what aspects of our worship services we find uplifting – and whether that is out of habit? It is certainly a good time for us to discover – perhaps be surprised by – worshipping in a completely different way to usual. Maybe we will find that God is present to us in new and exciting ways during these weeks of ‘exile’ from the church building.
It has been said that to say ‘We’ve always done it this way’ is the cry of a dying church. It is important in our worship that all we do is to draw close to God, and to enable others around us to draw close to God, to praise him, to confess our sins, to know his comfort and healing power at work within our lives. If the way the furniture is arranged, or the procedures we go through within a worship service, are simply because ‘that is how we have always done it’, then could it be that we should rethink how we do things?
We need to ensure that the arrangements within our worship – whether our procedures, or the way the furniture is – all leads people to draw closer to God. We need to ensure that all we do as a church helps not only ourselves, but also those who may visit us, to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, to know his love and care in their lives.