Today, it’s exactly two months since the church community in Fairwarp last met in Christ Church on 15th March. And, of course, it has been the same for all churches across the country, and all other places of worship. Public religious practice has ceased, except via the internet. There, a multitude of different religious offerings are available; you can find, observe and even join in with a range of worship options in a kind of public spiritual marketplace, a sort of on-line religious supermarket. Things have changed.
At first, the Church of England saw this as a prompt to become a different kind of church, where we could all focus on serving the community around us. And many church communities have been brilliantly active in supporting others in their locality since closure. That’s great - but not exactly a new idea. Over the past weeks, debate has been continuing about what church buildings are for, and why they matter. What seems to be emerging is that our church buildings are precious to people in a way that vicars and other church officials may not quite understand.
One of the flower artists who last Friday decorated the porch of Christ Church for the VE Day commemoration said: ‘I know I don’t go to church, but it’s still my church.’ That sense of ownership is profound. The church building belongs to everyone in the community: sacred space and common ground.