Covid 19 has changed absolutely everything. We just don't know what to expect these days when we go out. In the past, taking a trolley into Tesco's, we knew which aisles to head for, we knew what to expect.
If we went shopping for new clothes, we knew which shops to go to. We knew what to expect,
If we went to the cinema we would expect to see our favourite stars acting.
If we went out for a meal we would expect to share good food and good company.
Now, when we come into Church it's not quite what we expected - we can't sing hymns - we sit distanced from one another and, perhaps the most uncomfortable thing, we have to wear a face covering and some people we hoped to see after all this time have stayed home. Church is not what we expected.
But what is Church? What does it mean to you? We might ask " why have l come?" Is it because l like the building? Is it because l have jobs to do that make me feel of value and needed? Does it feel like home, that when l'm with others in Church l'm part of a family, with people who care about me? Or is it just a place to meet up with friends where like-minded people gather together?
Yes it is all these things, but in a sense it is none of them!
Church is first and foremost the place where we meet Jesus, where we encounter Christ.
Yes, we can meet Christ in other ways or places, but in Church, in worship, we are guaranteed to meet Christ. Whether visiting a Cathedral on holiday and being swept up by the splendour of the music or hesitantly entering the unfamiliar Covid 19 changed space of our home Church, if we are open, ready and willing, we are guaranteed to encounter Christ in the worship. Jesus always fulfils his promise " where two or three are gathered in my name, there l am in the midst of them " .
And this encounter has significance. It has consequences. It means we can be formed in the image and likeness of Christ. This image of Christ is beautifully captured by St. Paul in the words we heard in today's first reading ( letter to the Philippians ) .
We empty ourselves that we might be filled with the grace and generosity of God, the compassion and wisdom of God, the willingness to care for and about others.
When we come to Church we always have mixed expectations, but somewhere in that mix has to be the expectation of meeting Jesus, of becoming more like him.
Maybe we should all ask ourselves the question -" what do l expect when l come to Church?" .