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Hallo again to all.

Last evening we were invited to, and attended, a "mixer" for those in our secular profession, which was held at a local brew-pub. Though we often eschew large informal social gatherings in favour of an evening in with a novel and a glass of wine, we (and a colleague) found ourselves looking forward to an evening of pointed conversation on topics with which we typically bore our friends and family.

There are few places where our love of the esoteric can be giddily explored with others in a casual environment. A group of professionals talking about minutia fully appreciated only by those in their field. A cocktail hour during a hobbyist society gathering. Though the internet has made finding others with similar obsessions easier, there's nothing quite like the personal conversations between fanatics that adds to the excitement of the interest. This is quite unlike general social gatherings in which weather is talked about long, deeply, and in depth, and in which we learn rather more about the grandchildren of our new acquaintances than we ever thought possible.

All of the parishes to which we have belonged have a fellowship gathering following following morning mass. We do usually stop by this fellowship, even if briefly. Many Sundays we find ourself hoping to find the conversation of the former sort, yet are occasionally pulled into the latter. This fellowship time, along with imbibing caffeinated beverages and eating carbohydrates, gives us time to talk with others about the sermon that day, perhaps the music, issues facing the congregation, or hopes and plans for the future. It is a time to talk to others having a similar interest in the continuation and success of the parish but also a time to welcome newcomers or visitors or to get to know better those who may be new to the congregation.

This, of course, brings about the conundrum of having church versus being church. To invite newcomers into the worship fold requires some degree of 'small talk' and talking about our deep interests in a lighter, more introductory way. As much as we may prefer to leave this task to others, it is alas, role for all of us. We all know that we can no longer take for granted large enough populations to sustain our parishes without effort on the part of all its members. Perhaps, with time, these newcomers will come to our level of interested in the congregation.

This is by no means just a church issue—many hobbyist groups are known for saying to the newly interested 'you'll never understand' or expecting them to pick up in the middle of a long campaign. Yet church is a very different sort of place with a different sort of goal. We can not afford to vanish as some hobbies might, but rather must continue to worship and spread the good news of Christ.


See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

28 January 2018


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