aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

I will go up to the altar of God

As many who know me are well aware, I hate to cancel things. I do, of course. Sometimes, things just fall apart. Sometimes, key elements aren't ready. And sometimes, weather intervenes. But I try really hard to meet expectations, keep promises, promote faithfulness -- and that means, I don't cancel things just because something else came up.

As far as worship goes, I tell people that if the weather constitutes a danger to you, you should stay home! We don't want you trying to do what is not safe to do. But if you would venture out to go shopping or see a movie or run errands or go to work on a day like today, then you might as well schlep down to church and give God your worship.

I've wondered why some folks are so quick to pull the plug on things, especially worship. Perhaps there's the feeling that it wouldn't be very rewarding if only a few people could make it. But that assumes something about the value of what we do that makes it dependent on how many people come. That seems kind of skewed to me. Perhaps there's the feeling that worship is like a club meeting, and the convenience of the club members (or the key members) is the dominant factor. Or that it's not worth it to heat the building unless we get a certain level of response (in attendance or giving or something).

I guess my thinking goes back to the old idea that the Church upholds the universe by offering our sacrifice of praise to God. The Church's performance of worship is not just a product we offer to the people who come, it's something the people who come do for God and their neighbor! And even if only a few manage to keep it going, then we all together kept it going! Your inability to come today is okay, because somebody else made it, who might not be able to come tomorrow. Together, we will serve God, both in difficult circumstances and easy ones.

In the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria, there was a monastery, in which all the inhabitants died of a terrible plague except two: the aged abbot and a 14-year-old boy. The abbot had lived his whole life as part of the community that offered the round of monastic prayer at stated hours of every day. It grieved him that he and one novice could not form a sufficient congregation to do all the monastic hours, but he bowed to necessity: they would do a limited form of prayer in their reduced circumstances. But so adept was the boy at performing the liturgy of the hours, that soon the abbot determined that they would not omit any of the services! The old man and the boy together kept up the entire round of prayers until the community grew again and the monastic choir was full once more. That 14-year-old boy who was so smart and so devoted was ordained a Deacon at the unheard-of age of 19, then later a Priest. His name was Bede, and he became the foremost scholar of his age in the whole of Europe.

I think, would I have just punted if there were only two of us, and a huge task to be done for an indefinite period? Who would have cared? Why not just slough it off and wait for reinforcements. But oh, the joy to be able to say, We didn't let you down, Lord. We kept it up. And even if it would have made no big difference in the world outside, it sure showed what that old man and that boy were made of. And I want to be like Bede, in so many ways.

See you in church, I hope!

  • My goodness, has it been that long?

    This spring is the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. (It’s also the 30th anniversary of my Ph.D. commencement.) The three most useful…

  • On preaching

    My first appointment as a student pastor was in 1976. With only a year of seminary under my belt, I was made the pastor of three churches. Every…

  • Another day banging nails

    I was at Menards when they opened at 6:00 a.m. this morning to buy 3/4 ton of lumber and schlep it out to Wilderstead. While I was stacking 2x10s in…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment