Summer is a great time to take in so much – it is an excellent time to understand the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. So much so that often we get caught up in it all so much that we neglect to take in God in the public assembly we call Sunday Church. Now one of the most common things we hear this time of year is that we can experience God in nature, at the campground, on the golf course, on the lake, etc. I AGREE – wholeheartedly I agree that God is to be found in all of those places. Now I am grateful that I am a member at a parish where the “summer numbers” are not so bad. Now, we have seen some decline I the past couple of weeks, but it is NOT as drastic as it used to be. This change in attitude about summer worship has not happened by accident. We have taken the time over the past number of years to remind people that we worship each and every Sunday of the year – all 52 weeks. This week our Wednesday Liturgy had 25 people. That is an excellent number especially for summer. In some communities the Wednesday Mass is cancelled, the early Sunday Mass is cancelled or both Masses are moved to make one 9:30 AM Liturgy. What this says to the people of God and to people searching out a community is – summer attendance is less important than winter attendance. Many parishes have a Sunday in September, straight after Labour Day that is actually called “Start-Up Sunday,” giving the loud and clear message that the church has been shut down over the summer. I ask the question, do we cease to need to offer ourselves in the summer? Do we cease being hungry for spiritual food? I am guessing that the answer to those questions is no. Oddly, our spiritually often becomes far more of a “private matter” in the summer – God in nature etc. But we all need to be reminded that while we all have a relationship with God and that relationship is indeed is a personal and private commitment, public expression of that commitment is like oxygen for the Christian. In our baptisms we commit to “witness to the apostles teaching in the fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.” We commit to be present at the table – at the weekly communal feast.
After all the talk of Wedding Anniversaries this past two days [See the posts for July 17 and 18] perhaps this would be a good reminder of how Madeline L’Engle views this subject of church attendance given the way we all have a private relationship with God. She states, “So I go to church, not because of any legalistic or moralistic reasons, but because I am a hungry sheep who needs to be fed; and for the same reason that I wear a wedding ring: a public witness of a private commitment." This is a good analogy – our marriage is very much a private commitment and a private relationship between two parties – BUT – our wedding banns are a witness to all around that we have made that commitment and that we are in that relationship. So it is that my attending church – even in the summer – is a statement to the world that I am in love with Jesus and public profession of that is important. If we make room for God on Summer Sunday mornings we witness to our family, friends and neighbours that God is important in our lives and can be important in theirs as well.
So in the midst of your planning this summer – plan to take time to worship as well. If you are staying in town – come on out to St. Mark’s – we will be here – worshiping as usual, teaching Sunday school as usual, singing and praying as usual. If you are out touring this summer – plan to visit a church and see the expressions of faith that other communities have. Pray about how we might be able to better witness to God all year – after all God never vacations from us.
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do
The something that I can do.
See you in church.