Thursday, September 08, 2016

Why it's mad not to go to church

From The Rectory

In this article I tell you why you must be mad not to be in church on Sunday. Sort of.

Of course if you’re not a Christian believer, I don’t expect you to come to church. You are always most welcome, but I could see why you might rather not. I hope you’ll read on and see why you might like to join us.

But if you call yourself a Christian, I must say I really can’t understand where you would rather be.

Now, you might choose a different church for whatever reason. I would be sad about that, but I get that you might seek out the kind of music or preaching or children’s work you like. I think it’s a huge shame to drive past the parish church, but I could understand it. Frankly, in some circumstances I might even do it myself.

But what I can’t understand is calling yourself a Christian and failing to go to church on a Sunday at all – at least most of the time. Sure, now and then you might be ill. Sometimes there will be something urgent and important to do, of course. If you are an A&E doctor or one of your animals falls into a ditch, of course you might have to miss church. But you wouldn’t want to.

Why? Let me offer two reasons.

First, because church is meeting with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family and families get together. Failing to go to church is like belonging to a family but never turning up to the Sunday lunch mum and dad put on. You miss out. And your family misses out. We need one another. And a big part of the purpose of church is to encourage and help one another. Unless we are at the same local fellowship most weeks, it’s very hard for us to love and serve each other in the way the New Testament requires.

But it’s not just that. Going to church is something very human, but it is also something superhuman. It is more than any mere club or mutual support society. The second, and in fact the primary, reason why we go to church is to meet with God himself. Yes, God is everywhere. God does not live in the church building, sure. But the gathering of the people of God around the Word of God is where our Lord has promised to be with us in a special way to bless us. He speaks his Word to us. We speak to him together and sing his praises. When we receive the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion we receive Christ by faith in our hearts in a unique manner. And there is no such thing (ideally) as a solitary Communion service. As we meet together God renews his commitment to us and we renew our commitment to him. We’re equipped for his service in the week ahead.

The amazing teaching of the New Testament is that each Sunday (“Lord’s Day”) service is a mini outpost of heaven itself. God comes to us, which makes church heaven on earth. Our fellowship is not only amongst ourselves but with all the saints in glory (the Christian believers who have gone before us down the centuries), with the angels and with the church here on earth around the world. Or perhaps better, to put it the other way around, in our worship we “Lift Up Our Hearts” such that by the power of the Holy Spirit our service takes place in heaven itself. Warbleton or Bodle Street Green or Dallington churches are gathered up into the throne room of heaven for an hour or so each Sunday. And we would be mad to want to miss that. It might not always seem the glitziest show on earth, but it is literally heavenly. Or so we believe by faith, if not always by sight.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

The Rev’d Marc Lloyd

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