Updated: Aug 6
When I was growing up in my little wooden hut of a church with its bare walls, its serried ranks of hard chairs and its purple and white embroidered banner emblazoned with ‘JESUS IS LORD’ draped over the lectern at the front, I thought that this is where God was.
He (and he was always a He) lived there, but also had the disconcerting ability to see into my bedroom and catch me out thinking ungodly thoughts or neglecting to say my prayers. God wasn’t anywhere else at all and as long as you showed up in church at least twice on a Sunday, he could be appeased and persuaded that you might be worthy to have your name written in the Book of Life. If you didn't turn up in church, you might be run over and killed like the boy up the road who went out on his bike instead of coming to the evening meeting. That salutary lesson resonated with me for years.
So you needed to be well in with God and go to church because that was where he was. Come to that, I always thought that teachers retired to a cupboard in the classroom at the end of each school day and reappeared the next morning, just before we kids arrived. Teachers, much like God, weren’t really real beings. Both were too inaccessible, too powerful, too remote and judgemental to have any part in my rather sinful secret existence. I even craved nail varnish for goodness sake! No wonder God and teachers could get mad.
Now we say this prayer every day in the Third Order as part of what is called the Community Obedience. That title can send my fundamental self running for the hills, but, you know, I’ve come through a lot and can just about manage to separate then from now. Hey!
We adore you, most holy, Lord Jesus Christ,
here – and in all your churches throughout the world,
and we bless you, because by your holy Cross,
you have redeemed the world.
I say this prayer daily but not necessarily in the same place. I do like to say it while I’m out walking. One positive to come out of this nightmare of a dystopian pandemic for me is that I now walk. Not only to the post-box, but around the streets, the local footpaths, the beach. I amble though bucolic countryside just seven miles up the road looking for a teashop and leave the car to talk to itself on the drive rather than ask it to run me half a mile to fetch some milk.
I love walking.
In the middle of a field (note the rather fetching bobble hat)
And I say this prayer as I walk. One word in particular beats insistently though my head like jungle drums. Here! Here! Here! We adore you Jesus Christ - HERE!
And, do you notice, that comes before – ‘and in all your churches throughout the world.’ Sure – churches are important, but Here is more important.
And as I walk, I take photographs on my phone. (Another pandemic positive). It’s not a case of move over David Bailey – but I like to think I’m getting a bit better after my first wonky skylines and tail ends of birds. I like taking pictures of Here.
So here are some pictures of my Here. Where Jesus is.
And Jesus always shows up in church too.
Thankyou Jesus for coming on my walks.
For being Here.