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Hallo again to all, and happy Easter.

We confess that this has been, for us, a most uncomfortable Lenten season. We weren't ready for Lent to start. We wanted to shout ‘wait! wait!’ We talked about restoring the ‘gesimas’ as early-warning for Ash Wednesday: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima. But Lent started whether we were ready for it or not, and the original Quadragesima (40 days preparation for Easter) started without us.

The Sundays of Lent came and went. On the first day of each week, we went to church and then published an edition of Anglicans Online. Sometimes we stopped for brunch after church at our favourite spot near the university, noting the people there who had clearly not been in church that day, and who didn't care. We often think about the role of corporate worship in our lives. At the brunch restaurant we can see, briefly, into the lives of people for whom it has no role. What is different for us? Why is church worth it?

How do we even evaluate the success or failure of a church service, the worth of going to church? We decided years ago that attending church was not a choice we made each week, but was part of our identity. But after we ‘go in peace, to love and serve the Lord’, just what do we take away? What does it mean for one church service to be ‘better’ than another? If someone asks us why we go to church, why we don't just read the Bible in the comfort of our own home, or watch it on the telly, what do we say?

This week, at the end of the bitterest Lent in years, ending with a Holy Week in which we weren't able to be there on Good Friday, we found ourselves asking our own questions about why. Why Tenebrae, why Maundy Thursday, why Good Friday, why ‘sit a while while I pray’? Why the vigil?

We grumped. We had another cold, third one of the season. Our head hurt. Sunday morning, at the regular time, in a jam-packed church, our usual pew was occupied with someone's relatives, and the man next to us accidentally took our service leaflet during the first hymn. Grump grump.

But soon it became again clear to our fuzzy mortal brains why we do this. The music opened a hole in our hard shell that enabled the Holy Spirit to come in, grab the recollection of some 50 previous Easter celebrations, and catapult us to some other place. We sang ‘The day of Resurrection’ with trumpets, timpani, and six sopranos on descant. When the room quieted, our rector preached a brilliant sermon on Colossians 3:1-4, and once again we absolutely, totally understood that Jesus really did die for us and really was resurrected and that the world hasn't been the same since.

There were four hundred people in our church this morning, and we're quite certain that if even one of them had chosen to stay home, that we wouldn't have understood our Lord's message quite so well. The drummer who took communion and the trombone player who didn't. The elderly usher. The woman who kept sneezing. The man who accidentally took our service leaflet. The crying baby. God wanted every one of them to be there, and we thank Him for the very concept of corporate worship. The Good Lord has delivered us.

We're afraid that if we don't hurry back for a refill next Sunday, that the relentless push of the modern secular world might take some of this reality away from us. These days we just cannot afford that. We know that all 400 people won't be there next week, but we will.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

See you next week, ready to do it all again.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
cmcf@anglicansonline.org
Brian Reid
reid@anglicansonline.org


Last updated: 20 April 2003
URL: http://anglicansonline.org



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