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Replacing church

I haven't attended church since I became ill four and a half years ago. I've tried a couple of times, but each time I've arrived far too exhausted to really comprehend where I was. It was quite counter productive, and I'm not going to try it again until I'm much healthier. Instead, I've found other ways of finding much of what most Christians gain from going to church.

Firstly, my husband reads from the Bible to me every morning and we talk over what he has read. My contributions vary, depending on how foggy my head is, but it keeps me being regularly exposed to its teachings. We also bought a talking Bible (the whole text of the Bible read onto about 100 CDs), and sometimes I listen to the morning's reading later in the day to help cement it in my head. Sometimes I listen to the Anglican daily prayer service on David Guthrie's website, where a retired Anglican priest posts two 15 minute services of prayers and readings each day following the NZ Anglican liturgy.

My husband and I have also recently decided to join a closer church. When we got married, we belonged to two different central city churches. As I wasn't going to be attending church, we saw no need to change this situation. We thought we'd find a church that could be 'our' church when I was well. Nearly four years later, with me still well and truly sick, we decided that the time had come to find a place that was ours, even if I never actually show up. We decided to find a church really close to where we lived - partly to increase the chances of me being able to attend, and partly so we could make friends with people who lived locally and could visit me easily. There can be a lot of loneliness in a largely house-bound life, and I have enjoyed attaching (however distantly) to a community again.

I also ask the minister of our church to bring me communion every 6-8 weeks. My husband arranges to be home, and occasionally a couple of friends too, making a little congregation! I appreciate being able to experience this ceremony that reminds us of what Jesus has done for us. It has taken some effort to teach the minister how he needs to do the service so that he takes enough time for me to really experience it without going overboard and wearing me out, but it has been well worth that effort.

Finally, my housemate's brother, whenever he comes over for lunch, plays hymns and Christian music for us on the piano and we all sing along. I miss communal singing, and I love it when he gives that back to me.

August 2007