Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Back to Church Sunday

Yesterday was Back to Church Sunday. We engaged in the occasion at St. James with some success. The idea behind the occasion is that everyone in the congregation should invite someone to church who was not currently involved in church. If everyone did that it would of course double the size of the congregation – at least for that service. This has been practiced in quite a few Anglican Dioceses in that past few years. I heard on priest refer to it as one more occasion in addition to Christmas and Easter where you have a larger than usual number of people in attendance. Would that make the people C & E & B Christians rather than C & E Christians i.e. those that appear for the Christmas and Easter services?
The question that arises is”what is church?” Some people think of it as the building i.e the church roof needs to be replaced so we better get a building campaign going. The church of course is the community of believers and perhaps even non-believers to gather to worship God and to carry out the business of the church which sometimes or often involves the property of the church.

As the beginning of the Eucharist in the Book of Alternative Services we have the gathering of the community. The service opens with these words:

Celebrant: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

People: And also with you.

This is exactly what church is – we are the community which gathers in the name of Jesus Christ. We are blessing each other with the hope and expectation that Jesus Christ is with us as he promised that where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be there. We are expressing the hope that the grace of Jesus Christ will be with each of us. In my sermon I spoke of the the grace and mercy of God. The week before I noted the definition of grace and mercy which is worth repeating, Grace is about receiving what you don’t deserve and mercy is about not receiving what you do deserve. If it is about grace and mercy it can’t be fair. Being fair is about the law. Let us know and remember that God’s grace and mercy is freely available to each of us and live in response to that.

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