Thin places...


In Celtic spirituality certain locations were called ‘thin places’. These are places or perceptions where the division between heaven and earth are said to be at its narrowest.

I would like to recount two of my ‘thin places’ places which would may explain my postmodern bias...

1. St Johns

The first is St Johns in Surrey, the church of my childhood, my spiritual home or more accurately where my families’ spiritual roots were laid down four generations ago.

From time to time I return for evensong with my father Mike. He, like his father has attended St Johns all his life, this church has supported his most important Christian occasions, his christening, his confirmation, his marriage and as he hopes, his funeral.

The South of England is not known to be especially cold but this misty evening seemed to be an exception, so it was as the hymn says ‘in the bleak mid-winter’ when I was there with my father last.

The service is taken is the Lady Chapel and as we prepare ourselves in silence the chill within this dark old church silently begins to envelop us.

Our gloves and hats remain firmly in place God watch’s and listens to our souls in his praise.

We praise God and pray for the sick, the dead and the dying of this parish. We ask God to help us in our world; we thank him for being with us.

And in that dark night and in that chill God is there, silent and unseen, watching, smiling and in this stillness Christ is with me.

2. Vineyard Church Sutton

The second is Vineyard Church Sutton. I would call this the church of my adulthood.

This is the place I have grown most as a Christian, the place where I am learning about my relationship with Christ, my relationship with people, the gifts that God has given me and my relationship with Body of Christ.

I lead the newly named ‘Liturgical Team’ and help my wife with our monthly Holy Communion and play in the worship band on and off, soon to be on again.

When we are celebrating part of the Liturgical calendar, maybe Good Friday or Epiphany via a written reflection I am standing up at the front of the hall and looking at the sea of faces.

I know many of these people and consider them to be my friends, part of my community…part of my tribe.

As we join together in Liturgical worship, in the silence of community prayer God is smiling, watching, pleased with his children.

It is in that instant that Christ is with me.

Do you have any ‘thin places’?

Are they diverse?

What influence do they have on you theological thought?

Marc Alton-Cooper