Sunday, 22 April 2012

On not attending Church two weeks in a row

I didn’t go to Church this morning.  That’s the second Sunday in a row.

 I sometimes need to miss Church so that I can discern whether or not I value and need it.

That sounds fairly self centred, and it probably is. At one level I know that I need the discipline of shared worship, a discipline which can move me away from my hubris and self-sufficiency.

But I didn’t go to Church last week or this because Church is the last place on earth where I can pray; the last place on earth where I can expect God’s Word to speak to me. 

It’s all too busy, too cluttered, too noisy, too un-focussed.  It tries to please too many people for too many reasons.

Church can be very (or fairly) entertaining.  It can be informative.  It can be a pleasant enough place to meet my friends and colleagues.

There are many other groups and places at which I can be entertained and informed.  There are many other groups and places at which I can meet my friends and colleagues. G-d is present in those groups and places too, but as an anonymous and un-named guest.

There are precious few places where I can anticipate a deep encounter with the Living God, a place where S/he is acknowledged, honoured and obeyed.

Church should be one of those places:  I/we should expect that our joining with other Christians of a Sunday morning would lead to an encounter with the Holy One.

But it rarely happens.

It rarely happens because Sunday worship is often too busy, too cluttered, too noisy, too un-focussed.

That’s been my experience in the Churches I attend in the SRQ
And it was most probably the experience of the parishioners in those places where I was the Rector.


  1. For clarification - my musings are rooted in my experiences in congregations in general (six where I have worshiped in SW FL and four where I was Rector in MA) - not on any one parish in particular.

  2. I remember when, after a sermon, you would try to impose a period of silence on 100+ restless people -- Hannah does the same. In my view, not a very effective effort!

    But you know that you will go back to church -- because, however rare it may be, grace happens in the Eucharist.

    1. I remember when you were here at St Stephen's you once said that after several Sundays of all kinds of announcements, Sunday School show-and-tells, and a number of other things, you announced that it was time to have a service that was 100% worship and thanksgiving and that was going to happened henceforth at least once a month. It lasted for a while, but soon got out of hand again. As to missing service, I can't remember when I was last at St Stephen's, except for the small, quiet services on the mornings of Thanksgiving and Christmas if I'm not with my children. There is no place to park anywhere near the church without having to walk long distances from my car and the tumult of the services ruin them for me anyway. I would go on Saturdays except I usually forget about them. And I wish I could say I missed them, but I don't very often. This, after serving there in so many ways for so many years!