For two Sundays now I’ve been back in the church, where at the usual 9.30 time I’ve said the Eucharist. This might seem odd. After all, the Eucharist is a distinctively communal service, with congregational responses: ‘The Lord be with you’, says the priest; ‘And also with you’ reply the people. But it doesn’t feel odd at all to be at the altar saying the service, or standing at the lectern reading to an empty church. It’s something about the spiritual presence of others, I think; somehow the people are present. And the church isn’t an empty zone, but rather a place where God is. The living symbol of that presence is the consecrated Eucharistic wafers, the host, kept in the aumbry, above which a light shines. It was a dark day when, at the beginning of the lockdown I had to remove the host from the aumbry and turn off the light, leaving the church truly empty. It’s now re-occupied, thankfully.
Today’s Psalm (Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16) offers the reassurance that God’s care is constantly and freely available for us. ‘Into your hands I commend my spirit’, says the Psalmist; ‘for you have redeemed me, Lord God of truth.’ To acknowledge, with the Psalmist, that ‘my times are in your hand’ can be the beginning of inner peace for each of us: we do not control our lives, but are in the safe and loving hands of God.