A congregation of the United Church of Canada
June 16, 2021
It worked! All the decluttering and clearing out of things. All the cleaning. All the stripping the house of anything personal or ‘homey’. All the froofy pillows. It worked! We are thrilled that our house has now sold, and quite quickly. This is new for us. For whatever reason we’ve always underperformed in the housing market. This time we did not. This time it all worked. We are very pleased with it all – and especially pleased that we’re done all the hard stuff. Yes, there are still many boxes to be packed and all the hubbub around actually moving to come, but it all seems easily manageable at this point. (Again, I’d like to note that we are just changing houses, not churches. I’m not going anywhere!)
Now, here in the aftermath of buying and selling, as we exhale deeply and allow the stress to dissipate, we have permission to make our house ‘homey’ again. The first thing I did was to reassemble my home office space so I could more effectively work. The second thing I did was to bring my guitars and amplifiers and whatnot out of hiding. It feels so great to glance over at them and know they’re there waiting for my attention. It was only a couple of weeks, but I really missed playing them.
The next thing we did was to bring our house plants home. It’s very strange to me, but it seems in the real estate game it’s better to remove all your vibrant, healthy, colourful, life-giving plants and replace them with tiny artificial plants. Again, I can’t argue with success. It worked. But what a difference when we brought our own plants back home. The rooms just came back to life. It was remarkable what a difference it made to see the greenery and the colours. It instantly felt more like home again.
It got me thinking about our current church exile. I’m in the sanctuary every week to do the livestream broadcast. But the sanctuary has no chairs set up. Our worship set is near the back of the room and the furniture is arranged to look nice on TV but it feels weird because it’s out of its usual place. I’ve learned to stand at my lectern and talk to a camera lens in a somewhat engaging way, but needless to say it’s nothing like interacting with a congregation. We sing hymns every week but it feels very lonely singing alone.
At some point this fall we will be able to gather in-person again. The sanctuary will go back to its familiar form. Chairs will be everywhere. The chancel will be reset. I’ll look up from my lectern and see people. And when I sing I will be joined by many, many voices, all praising God with joyful hearts and smiling faces. I know that we had to do it the way we’ve been doing it. It worked. The pandemic is slowly receding as vaccinations increase.
We had to be apart. We still have to be apart for a time. But I am starting to think more and more about how wonderful it will feel to have the sanctuary feel like church again. It’s not the furniture, or the bricks and mortar, or the physical space that makes a church a church. We’ve shown that our church transcends those things as we’ve continued to love, and worship, and serve, and thrive through this pandemic season. A church is God’s people – whether together or apart – whether in exile or in homecoming. But just like how the homecoming of our greenery made our house feel more homey again, I’m yearning for and anxiously anticipating how the homecoming of God’s people to Faith United will make our sanctuary feel more ‘churchy’ again. Homecoming is on the horizon. Just a little while longer.