Where Is A Church Service At?
Submitted by St_Clinton on Sun, 07/24/2011 - 23:10
Over the last week I have been in places and online when a conversation about church and service times were talked about. Things like what time a congregation has a service, what type of service that a congregation has, the things that go on during a service and many other things church and service related. But a little earlier I really began to rethink about the topic.
Yesterday I attended a service that most people wouldn't think of as being in a church, but now that I really think about it, I was in a church that has a service, but it didn't have all of the things that we see in our services most Sundays. There wasn't any stain-glassed windows. There were any pews with cushions on them.There were no candles. There wasn't any... well you know all of the stuff that we see within our services ever week, so I don't need to go further.
In my diocese, like in some other diocese, a service exist that even though some within the diocese have heard about it, not many people actually attend it. I know that part of the reason is because many within this diocese don't subscribe to DioBytes to find out what events and other things are going on within the diocese, I know that in the congregation that the "Digital Divide" still exist, and I am sure that there are tons of other reasons people never see it. But I am getting off topic again.
Once a month, one of the people who is going through the ordination process has been doing what is called "Worship In The Wilderness" which I attended the first time yesterday. The main idea is to take the service out into a nature area and do it there. As strange as it may sounds, it is taking it back to how services had to be done in some areas.
As I was thinking earlier, I realized how much I really enjoyed it. I wasn't spending time worrying if things were going smoothly in the sanctuary or in the naive. It gave me time as we walked around to really give my attention to the beauty that God has bestrode and permitted up to get to see and know. As we walked through paths in Tilden Park I looked at the plants, trees and animals that we around, and was just amazed at the things that I would of never seen or thought about if I just kept my church service experiences to the walls of a building. It allowed me to really be with the Holy Trinity in a way that being within a building could never really give me.
I as sat in service this morning at the congregation, I began to think about what a church building really means, and how in many ways we really need to get outside of the building from time to time and think about the what we are really doing? I also thought about the history of the congregation that I am in. According to the history of the church that my pastor wrote, it began in 1858 and was received into the diocese in 1860. In 1858 the clergy person that they got to come and do services at the house of one of the women that got the church started had to travel through marshland and other areas to get to it. As I was walking I thought about him and pictured myself traveling in the time that he did to go to somebodies home to celebrate the Lord with them. Imagining myself as I was on my way to celebrate the life of the Lord with them, and in my mind wondering if there are any animals that may try and attack me or if they were trying to blend into the background watching me and wondering where I was headed. I tried to imagine the smells that he encountered along way, and the things that he saw what we can not longer see anymore. I began to wonder what were some of the things that ran through his mind?
As we walked I also began to think about the about Jesus and people of that time traveling from one place to another. They had no cars, buses, bikes, truck and so on. I think that for many if they even had a burro to get from one place to the other they were lucky. As we would stop to do different things in the service, I imagined Jesus and his followers stopping as they traveled, and Jesus telling them parables and about Heaven. I imagined myself among the followers paying attention to each and every word Jesus spoke, and I wondered how Judas was feeling as he had a choice to make.
But as we walked, I also wondered what was so important about having a building to worship in, and could Christianity survive without them? How many have left the church and Christianity when they claimed that they didn't believe, but in reality if they had been doing it in the wilderness they would have a far deeper relationship with the Holy Trinity?
I also thought about another service which occurs in San Francisco right now, and that being Open Cathedral. Open Cathedral takes place every Sunday in the UN Plaza area and at the Harvey Milk Library in the Castro area. Done outside, and everyone is welcomed. We often say that we welcome people through the doors, but in both cases there are no doors so truly all are welcomed. At times I wonder if the doors to the building that we have are truly open to all.
If you live in this diocese, or one of the surrounding ones, check the Worship In The Wilderness website and see when and where the next one will be that is near you, and give it a try. Looking for something that you can do either alone or with your family, grab your Book of Common Prayer and a Bible and go out to a large park, a lake, or the beach and do a service where you break the service into parts where you stop and do a part when you feel that the Holy Spirit wants you to do something. So say that it is to hard to get to a place to do it? why not walk around the area that you live and do it? Sure if you live in a large city some people may look at you strange, but you may find others along the way who will ask what is going on and will then join you along your travel.
But still the church building is important for some people, as they grow closer to the Holy Trinity by coming through the doors. Their are the people who need the structure of what happens within the walls of a building, as it helps them to bring structure and order into their life.
I would like to see both exist side by side. One thing that I would make a change in though is the things that the Deacon could do. In the Episcopal Church a Deacon is not empowered to do the blessing of the Eucharist, but this is something that I change. When it came to services that are outside, Deacons would have the power to bless the bread and wine for eucharist for these services. I think that more than any or the orders within the church, Deacons represent the church more than any other order. I am sure that some will say that it is really the priest, but in a way I think that the priest are acting in the role of a Deacon outside of the walls of the church. When a priest is involved in some non-profit charity in a spiritual way, I think that they are involved as a Deacon.Why not permit the Deacons to truly bless and bring the eucharist to the people outside of the walls of the church? But then again I don't recall Jesus saying that one had to be a priest, bishop or deacon in order to bless and celebrate the eucharist, only that we break the bread and drink of the cup.
So where is it important to you to have a church service at? Within the walls of a building or out in the open? I can't tell you what is good for you, as it could be both that brings you closer to the Holy Trinity.