Monday, April 26, 2010

What We're Actually Doing When We Come to Church

I'm usually a few weeks behind in seriously reading through issues of The Living Church, an eminently worthy weekly publication that has been a channel for the "Catholic voice" in the Episcopal Church for over 130 years. So this morning I was working my way through the March 21 issue and came across this gem of a quote which I am excerpting from a gem of an article ("The Sacrament of Lent"). The author is Father Ralph McMichael, who happens to have been my professor of liturgics during my senior year in seminary (1988-89), though I'm fairly certain he would be reluctant to accept any blame for the way I turned out. This is definitely worth pondering:
Each action of the Eucharist is thus part of the economy of God’s offer of salvation, to share in Christ’s life of communion. Our gathering—leaving the homes we have chosen and arranged for ourselves—is the beginning of our offering to live in the place God has prepared for us to dwell. Listening to Scripture is the ascetic practice of laying aside our own opinions and viewpoints for the sake of the silence where only God’sWord is heard. We thus listen before we speak, and are acted upon before we act — formed and renewed by what we believe, rather than by what you or I might think at any given moment on an issue du jour.
Does it not seem like consumerism ("What's in it for me?") is ever more regnant in the attitude of American Christians toward their church relationships? Hyper-individualism will yet be our undoing as an effective witness in this culture. We need more strong antidotes like this article to help us see straight and remember who we are and what we're doing when we come (or don't come, as the case may be) to the Eucharist.

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