The Mrs abandoned our church in Wales, as it voluntarily shut its doors completely during lockdown, heading to a small Methodist, mask-free chapel in England where they have sung throughout. She was raised a Methodist so it is perhaps going home, not an outright defection. The place has an active Sunday school which Joshua loves and so she is making a permanent switch. On Friday, I went there for a treasure hunt for the kids. Thirty adults and their kids mixed freely, without masks, in a field and also inside the chapel. We shook hands. We stood together. It was life as part of a Christian community, or indeed a community of humans, as it really should be. But what of me and worship?
I ponder this as the bells ring out for the first time since Christmas; our church in the last village in Wales is re-opening but it will be without me.
I am not a guitars and ghastly newly written hymns read from a TV screen sort of man so will not be heading to the Methodists. Various members of the congregation at our local church who I have bumped into in the village have reminded me that the Church has abandoned its cowardly self-imposed closure which I discussed here, has ceased to abandon its flock, and is to reopen.
But it will be a masked-up affair, with formal social distancing, no singing and the communion bread brought to you in the pew. The demographics of the congregation mean that we have all been jabbed. Every single one of us. In fact, most of us have been jabbed twice. There were only 10 covid deaths across the whole UK yesterday, yet still the established church insists on a sterile service without joy, without human warmth, as the resurrection of Christ is celebrated.
I say prayers with Joshua at night. I have not lost my faith. But I have lost all faith in a cowardly church offering sterile and uninspiring worship. It will not lift my spirit nor make me consider the joy of what this day means.
No doubt the established church will argue that despite its cowardice over the past year, its willingness to rip down statues that might offend somebody somewhere and the fervour with which it drives out the imaginary legions of homophobic and racist demons within its ranks, it is more and more relevant to 2021. Its collapsing congregations suggest otherwise. Have many of my fellow deserters lost faith in God? I suspect not. But in the established Church? You bet. The Church failed us in a time of need and when it makes definitive pronouncements on anything, it is nothing as simple as matters of sin or the world of the Lord, it is simply its spin of the woke drivel served up in the Guardian every day.
I have not left the Church, it has abandoned me.