Open House


Thursday, May 21st


Come on in!

We've still got flour left from before the lockdown. No, we didn't stockpile or rush out to buy loads before the supermarkets limited purchases to three or four of any item. We always had a regular stock because Jenny was always baking. Date and walnut scones for after morning worship every Sunday we met. Scones on a Monday for morning coffee with our friend Christine. A selection of scones - plain for Joe, cherry for Kerry, together with either brownie or lemon drizzle cake with sunken chocolate when parts of the family came to stay.


Open House at Christmas and at other times, any excuse to have people around. And then there were none! Plenty of potential to call and eat, but no customers. The only knock on the door these days is either the post person or a delivery. But they don't come in. So, it's taking a lot longer to get through the flour cupboard when there's only two of you. It is going to feel strange inviting anybody into the house again.


I wonder how we will all react to a situation where we can once again declare Open House? Will we be more eager than ever to invite people for a drink and a cake? Or will we be more cautious about who we invite into the cramped space of our kitchens, dining rooms and lounges? I guess it's not going to happen soon, anyway.


At our local church in Shiregreen, Sheffield, we have tried to model the concept of Church as a Hospitable Space. Older people's lunch clubs, social Café Valentine, afternoon dinner for the kids once a month. Not that food is the only way to be hospitable. Perhaps that's the key to a new normal. Finding other ways to be hospitable until we can all sit comfortably together again.


Maybe we can extend the virtual coffee mornings to a wider group of people in our neighbourhood. Perhaps we can offer safe one-to-one and small group meetings and therapies to those who need it most. Visit people in their homes if they will open their doors, until it is safe to use the minibus again and bring them together. Use our catering facilities in more imaginative ways. Create calm and reflective spaces where people can come in ones and twos to just be. Design a contemplative garden on our front lawn.


It's just a thought. But we will have to think hard about our ministry to the community as we enter a new era like none we have known before.Whether it is in our own homes or in our church and community buildings, we will be challenged to find ways to declare again: Open House!


At the door


When the sun is high and the house is full,

and the laughter is easy

and all is well -

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.


When the lights are low and the house is still,

and the talk is intense

and the air is full of wondering -

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.


When the lights are off and the house is sad,

and the voice is troubled

and nothing seems right -

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.


Come in, Lord Jesus, stay with us.

Bring to our house your poverty,

for then we shall be rich.


Bring to our house your pain,

for then we may also share your joy.


Bring to our house your broken heart,

that this may become a place of healing.


With friend, with stranger,

With neighbour and the unknown ones,

Be among us today.

For the doors of our house we open,

and the doors of our hearts we leave ajar.


(Source unknown - variations in Wild Goose Worship et al.)


Prayer:

Mother, Father God,

After this time of lockdown

May we raise our eyes again to new horizons,

find different ways to serve,

be unafraid to open our doors,

to welcome friend and stranger

and let them eat cake,

Amen


Enjoying the willow den the children helped to build on our church lawn (before lockdown)


You can see our vision for a Hospitable Space at:

https://www.shiregreenurc.org/our-vision

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