To Read: Click on song title to watch a video
Consider yourself at home
Consider yourself a one of the family
We’ve taken to you so strong
It’s clear, we’re going, to get along
Consider yourself, well in
Consider yourself part of the furniture
There isn’t a lot, to spare
What ever we’ve got, we share!
If it should chance to be
We should see
Some harder days
Empty larder days
Always a chance we’ll meet
Somebody to foot the bill
Then the drinks are on the house!
Consider yourself our mate
We don’t want to have no fuss,
For after some consideration, we can state
One of us!
From the Scriptures:
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Those who deal in captivity and imprisonment have long known that the most cruel and inhumane of punishments is not torture of the boy but isolation of the soul. To be condemned to solitary confinement and denied the company of others is amongst the most severe and damaging of all punishments.
We are social beings and, even if we are ‘comfortable in our own skin’, need the company and conversation of others to retain our sanity.
Each of us needs a place where we can ‘consider ourselves at home’. Denial of a home makes us less human than we should be. Societies that do not care for their homeless, and other people living on the underside of life, become less human.
In the Religious Life a nun or a monk is cautioned against entering life alone in a hermitage before they have discovered who they are at the hands of their sisters and brothers in the convent. Our humanity is mediated to us by those around us. Other people, by the way they treat us, determine our identity. Without company we cannot be alone.
The Nguni speaking people of Southern Africa say this well.
uMuntu nguMuntu ngaBantu
A person becomes a person at the hands of other people
If we choose to be alone our soul withers and the ‘Beautiful Morning’ of which Oliver Twist sings never dawns.
The same is true of our common life in the church. Flourishing as humans and as Christians happens best in community. This is why the author of Hebrews cautions us ‘not neglect to meet together’ as it is in each other’s company that we find encouragement to love one another and live a life of good deeds.
A statement I have frequently heard, often said with sotto-voce aggressiveness, is ‘I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian’.
Yes, the act of going to church doesn’t make you into a Christian; anymore than sleeping in a garage will magically turn you into a motorcar overnight.
After all, in some sense, regular worshippers and churchgoers or not, we are ‘all’ Christians, for every single one of us is Christ’s own possession.
Yes, the church is often riven with uncertainty, confusion and (I don’t know why this surprises people) hypocrites and sinners. But then so are all areas of our life and not many other places offer any lasting weal for our woe.
I might just be able the not go to church and be a Christian but it is hard work to live this life without the company and counsel of fellow pilgrims. Why make the already difficult journey of life harder by refusing the help of others that is freely given?
Yes, church is hard work! But if I want to find my identity there is no other quarry I can mine wherein it might be discovered.
So my beloved ones, if you occasionally skip church because it is boring and you get nothing from it, decide to go more frequently to add to its joy and to give to others.
If you arrive at church late and leave early because you have grown to see faith as a private and personal matter try to arrive early or leave late so that you can ‘feel’ the Body of Christ holding you in love.
If you have given up on church because you have been sinned against, taken for granted, or slighted, I’m sorry to say the only place where any healing can be found for those wounds is in the company of those who have failed to be your sisters and brothers. After all how can they grow and change and be better without you? You hold in your attendance at church the key to their freedom.
And if we never meet our family how will we ever be able to ‘Consider ourselves at home?’
God, food of the poor;
Christ, our bread,
give us a taste of the tender bread
from your creation’s table;
bread newly taken
from your heart’s oven.
food that comforts and nourishes us.
A fraternal loaf that makes us human:
joined hand in hand,
working and sharing.
A warm loaf that makes us a family;
sacrament of your body,
your wounded people.
Workers in community soup kitchens, Lima Peru
1) Look at your pattern of church attendance and decide to do one thing that means you will spend more time with God’s people.
2) Pray for those in your church community who now no longer attend any worship anywhere.
Encore: Click on song title to watch a video
It has been rumoured in Britain that Spring has already begun, the daytime temperatures have yet to confirm this but the sight of people in churches up and down the land making posies of flowers for Mothering Sunday gifts suggest it is not far away. Is today a good day to ask the question Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning?
An Artful Dodger
who made it home to heaven
before any of the rest of his family.
Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018