Monday, October 8, 2007

Are We Really Paying Attention?

This is probably one of the many reflections I'll do about the corporate worship of the Episcopal Church in the USA.

I've been a confirmed Episcopalian since December of 1984, more that half my life. During that time in many different parishes, both as a communicant and a visitor, I have experienced a diversity of worship. I have participated in services from the very High Church with "bells and smells", following to the letter the Book of Common Prayer to very Low Church with just following the general outline of the Mass but pretty free and open. I have been in parishes and groups where people speak in tongues and in groups where charismatics would probably be burned at the stake.

This is one of the main things I love about the Episcopal Church. There is no dogma of the "right" or the "wrong" way to worship Almighty God. No one is turned away from the Eucharistic table because they are not Episcopalian. The only requirement for receiving the Sacrament is that you are a baptized Christian. The "blue signs" many of us look for when locating a parish say, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" and, on the whole, we mean it. Most of the people I have met in parishes other than my home church have made an effort to welcome me and speak to me. Unfortunately some have not and have embodied God's Frozen Chosen. Thank God this has been the rare exception than the rule!

I wonder, though, how many of us are paying attention, really paying attention during the celebration of the Eucharist? Okay, I've been guilty of it at times and I'm sure everyone is. I look around at the faces sometimes and I wonder who forgot to tell them this is a celebration. Yes, we do the same thing Sunday after Sunday from the same book, the same Bible, the same words. Yes, many probably know the whole thing by heart. Yes, sometimes we're tired when we're in the pew and don't really get into the service. I love it, though, when I see someone really getting into it. I love watching my husband, who was only introduced to Episcopal worship two and a half years ago, learn the different parts of the service. Even though some of his jokes during the service may irritate me, at least I know that he's paying attention.

So are we really paying attention to this wonderful gift of corporate worship? Do we really appreciate that the same rite is used in thousands of other parishes throughout the country, thereby uniting us into a larger corporate body of worship and uniting us to worshippers throughout history? Do we realize how blessed we are to have the opportunity to come together weekly and CELEBRATE the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ when so many in the world are persecuted for doing just that? Do we celebrate? We should. As a friend of mine once said, "Do you love Jesus? Then tell your face!" And next Sunday CELEBRATE!

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