I recently moved into a new office in the building - and it has windows that open and overlook the main road.
In the current heat, it has been good to be able to open the windows, and most days I have been doing that for at least part of the day.
So, now I know how good the double glazing is at keeping the noise out! The sounds of the traffic, and the building works, and the sirens....it has all mounted up, and on occasion made me just a touch irritable.
Several years, we hosted the AGM of the Baptist Union Retreat Group, and together with one of our members, I led them in a time of retreat for the day. Being as they had chosen to come to the middle of London, we sent them out into the streets around about to see what they noticed, and where they encountered God. It was an interesting and instructive event (not least because I realised how easy it is to get lost round about our building!)
The one thing that all of their comments had in common was the noise - and there were interesting reflections on how easy or otherwise it was to pray when the noise felt overwhelming.
I was remembering that during the latest onslaught of sirens and horns.
We are not a church, I am glad to say, in which the prayer offered in the vestry before we start has ever (in my time at least) included the request that we "learn to leave the things of our everyday life outside as we come to worship" (and yes, there have places where I have heard that prayer.....)
Everyday life intrudes at every turn in our building here. And there are times when the noise form outside means I find it hard to pray.
And then I realise, if prayer does not "work" - doesn't mean anything or have any content if the noise from outside is "getting in the way", then whatever it is, it is not prayer. We do not come into church, or into the presence of God, or into worship in order to escape from the world we live in, but in order to encounter that world in the presence of God - and God in the presence of the world. Tat is why we have the glass screen and glass doors - so that we can see and be seen; that is why our services always include intercessory prayers for the world (and yes, I have been in churches where that does not happen) and that is why we expect to make a difference by the way we live, in the world of which we are a part.
If we have to hide away to pray or to worship, or to meet God - then it's not real.....and above all, God is about reality.