I was reading something earlier today which described St John's as a 'middle of the road church.' In a nice way - it was a complimentary piece of writing - but I was brought up short. Middle of the road? Are we really, I thought? Hmph!
It reminded me of the opening words of the Preface of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which from memory say something like 'It hath ever been the wisdom of the Church of England... to keep the mean between two extremes.' Or the words in the Book of Revelation to the church in Laodicea - 'Because you are neither hot nor cold, I shall spit you out of my mouth.'
I am also reflecting on liminal spaces, at the moment. Being betwixt and between, neither one place nor the other. We aren't in full lockdown but we aren't out of lockdown. We can go out but we shouldn't really (unless we're senior advisers to the Prime Minister (sorry, couldn't resist that)). We're not sure when and how we can reopen but we all want to. So here we are in the middle of the road, not knowing quite which direction we are going in.
Perhaps this is a good time to take stock - because we are also in the middle of the period between Ascension Day and Pentecost, when we are praying for Thy Kingdom to Come, but the Spirit isn't with us yet. And many of us are asking Georgie's question (see her sermon below) - what do you really, really, want?
After my slight bristling, I began to think that perhaps the middle of the road isn't such a bad place to be. It's easily reached from both sides. It's usually an open space. You have to keep your wits about you to avoid being run over: but you're also in a good place to move on, as soon as you are able. It's a place where you can pause (subject to traffic) and survey the scene - and it's a place which leads on to somewhere else. So, for the next few days, I will enjoy the middle of the road - but I hope that the journey will continue soon, to God knows where...
On Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, can you bring a candle with you when you join us online? And don't forget to wear red! The Zoom screen will be fun.
Writing of roads leads me towards this poem.
May the road of which we are the middle be the road less travelled.
And may it make a difference for us all.
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
With my love, as ever, and prayers,