Salisbury Plain Benefice rejoices in being settled in a comfortable, peaceful, and beautiful part of the Church of England. Our 4 villages hold 8 churches, all carefully maintained and weatherproof. We worship when we want to, and no-one ever challenges us.
Worship is a funny thing. Sometimes it is about duty, sometimes a lifebelt thrown to a drowning soul. Sometimes it is a delight and a joy. It is…sometimes. Sometimes we are eager to get into church, to greet our friends, to worship together, to drink coffee and share our stories, to receive communion, and share our woes. But more than anything, worship for us is simple. We choose what we say, and when we say it, and where we gather. We are so very, very free.
Last weekend marked the mid-point of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It was also Homeless Sunday. Gathering together resources for our worship it became so important to look outside our cosy little parish; beyond the open door. We felt it was really necessary to place ourselves where our brothers and sisters find themselves; not once in a while, not in a moment of crisis, but every hour of every day.
So we made a shelter. It was flimsy, and carpeted by the damp stone church floor. It was poorly lit, and the lights didn’t last the evening. And in our cosy children’s area, full of toys and books and colouring things, we placed empty rucksacks and gave visitors 5 minutes to fill them with their precious things; the things you’d take if you were leaving home forever.
In the drafty stone porch, which is protected from ‘intruders’ by strong locked gates at night, we placed a sleeping bag settled on a mattress of cardboard and stone. Because even here in our lovely little part of the world people seek out porches where they can spend the night.
We don’t know-really- do we what life is really like without a home, without warmth, without comfort? But thousands of our brothers and sisters know. And we need to lift our eyes once in a while to look beyond the horizon and let them show us. Not to gaze for a moment in bewilderment and pity, but to truly see and then to act.
We prayed last weekend. For the homeless in our own community. For those nations which are being torn apart. For the people who live now permanently in flimsy shelters. For those in our community here whose life is not cosy or simple, but who suffer and long for wholeness or peace. We prayed because worship isn’t about us. It is about God and his power to change things, and his will to save. We prayed with hope and not from despair. And we will continue to pray.
What do you pray for?