Thought of the week
One evening last week I had the honour of being invited to dinner at Government House atop St Saviour’s Hill. The food and hospitality were superb and I enjoyed getting to know better Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Sir Stephen Dalton, his wife, Lady Anne Dalton and Archie, their black Labrador. While the dog dozed under the dinner table, his master told all sixteen guests: ‘welcome to the Queen’s house in Jersey.’ It felt rather special to be sat in her house. There was a large portrait of her on one wall and at the end of dinner we all stood to raise a glass to her majesty.
There is a sense in which, when we come to church we are in God’s house. Inside its walls, God is calling together all who belong to him. The equivalent Greek term Kyriakē, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means ‘what belongs to the Lord’. That sense of belonging is nourished by what in Church we receive: the word and the Body of Christ. I have heard people say that they don’t need to go to church to pray. St John Chrysostom (d. 407) would disagree, ‘You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to
God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.’
In drawing life from what we have received in God’s house we are become the body of Christ. It is an invitation not to put to one side. It is an identity on which to ponder and in doing so we shouldn’t be surprised if we then feel the urge to act differently. An opportunity to do this is given this Sunday as the readings and prayers draw particular attention to the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi. As we receive this bread of angels there is a sense in which we are become portable tabernacles, houses of the Lord. When we leave Church, when we walk out of the doors of God’s big house, where are we taking Him? Is he allowed everywhere or would we restrict his access because of … (insert your own reason)?
My friends, on such questions let us reflect. To enter God’s house, his special place, is to receive our Saviour, but what does this call on us to give?