Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Sundays

At a recent deanery meeting one of my colleagues mentioned that in the Diocese of Western North Carolina, Sunday attendance in the summers is usually about one-third its usual numbers. I find that to be true here at Redeemer, and to be honest, this astounds me. I understand the increased numbers of vacations in summer, but I don’t think that really explains this phenomenon. I don’t know what does. Here’s what I do know…

In our Sunday Eucharist we stop and make time and space to pray, to invite the presence of God in - individually and collectively. We participate, asking God for what we need for ourselves and for those in our lives and in our world. We breathe in the Word of God in the Scriptures, nourish our souls with the holy food of Communion, then breathe out the effects of all of this in our lives - being dismissed to “love and serve the Lord.”

For Episcopalians, the liturgy is not a performance by the priest of a magic event or a memorial of a past event. It is a bringing down the curtain of earthly time and entering into eternal time. It is an anamnetic event (as we’ve discussed before). A foretaste of the heavenly banquet, our Eucharistic meal links our bodies, our hearts, and our minds to the reality of our salvation in Jesus Christ. We hear the history of our exodus and the truth of our salvation in the Eucharistic Prayers. We hear the narrative of our identity as children of Abraham and people of the New Covenant in the Scripture readings. In our liturgical music, we sing, hear and understand what we believe on another level – one that connects to our creative, holistic understanding.

We remember the example of the disciples who, upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, didn’t recognize him until he made Eucharist with them. Then their eyes were opened and they described a burning in their hearts in the presence of their Savior. Our Sunday Eucharist is the time we set aside to experience that.

We also engender authentic Christian community by creating space for the worship of God. That is why it’s so important be together as family in the most literal and broadest sense: a family of God that worships together, plays and studies together, disagrees yet loves one another, and has a way and a means to accomplish our common mission – the building up of the kingdom of God on earth.

Sunday worship is not a duty (social or otherwise), and we don’t affect our eternal outcome by going or not going. But we do affect our present – knowing who we are, whose we are, and what our purpose is. Our eyes are opened in the Eucharist, our hearts are set on fire, and we are strengthened as individuals and as a community to be witnesses of the Good News we know.

See you Sunday – oh, next Sunday… I’m on vacation August 1!!!

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