The last time I was inside my church's sanctuary was March 13--for a funeral of a dear friend's father.
It's been 303 days--nearly a year.
Our church moved worship online (in fact our church always streamed their services, so the transition was a little smoother). Nearly every Sunday since March 15, we've gathered our household, which includes my Mom, and attended church in our living room (and in our pajamas).
I can honestly say in the past 303 days, I've attended worship more than I ever have before. The simplicity of gathering my kids--without the fighting and complaining and dressing and finding shoes and Bibles and car keys and cash for offering--has been such a gift. I miss the inside of the church; I miss the fellowship of being with people. But I don't miss the screaming.
There was so much screaming.
I love this simple act of gathering in worship. And it is not always perfectly peaceful--most Sundays there is a bit of yelling or technology failures or huffing and puffing and whining.
But, when I say it is has been reduced by 90-percent, I am not exaggerating.
For communion, we use what is on hand. I told a friend we used ginger ale and saltines one Sunday and they were horrified. But I don't think Jesus minds much. I look at it this way: the first Communion was at the Passover table and there happened to be some wine and bread, as there would have been. Communion became the blood of Christ represented by the Wine and the body of Christ represented by the bread.
I have no idea if my perspective is biblically correct, but during our home communions, I've felt just as close to Christ nibbling on a saltine and sipping some ginger ale, as I have in my church with the grape juice and the bread.
I don't think Jesus minds so much if we do things a bit differently than He did, as long as we do it with Him in our hearts and minds. I understand how ritual can help to focus and center us in the moment. And I love a good church service with all the Jesusy pomp and circumstance. But, sometimes, those things can get in the way, like church clothes and car keys seem to be the fly in the ointment of our pre-pandemic Sundays.
I am prone to getting wrapped up in the complications of things--I love a complicated ritual, a good theme, a multi-leveled strategy with nuances and surprises, a long, very specific prayer-but when I start overcomplicating my relationship with God, I lose Him completely. I am focused on the relationship part--not just simply on Him.
For me, finding the simple faith is finding the truest faith.
So here goes my Simple Statement of Faith:
Jesus loves us. We should accept His love and give it in return to Him and for Him to the world;
God hears our prayers. We can pray in the simplest way, by saying "Lord, hear our prayer." He knows what is in our hearts and He does not need our words.
We are forgiven, when we ask. And therefore, we should ask for forgiveness and in turn, like the love we share with our neighbors, give forgiveness to them as well.
God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in all things. The triune God is in all things and we can be with God in all things, whenever and where ever we want--in our living rooms, in our pajamas, with a communion of soda and crackers. We are always with God, we've just got to get out of our own way.