Hello St. George’s Families,
I hope everyone had a great summer, I certainly did. I retired on July 8,
the last day of Kid’s Camp and headed off for a trip to Britain and France. On my return, I spent the rest of the summer at a cottage with my family. I have never had a summer off and it was wonderful. I will continue to co-ordinate Messy Church at St George’s and I look forward to seeing you and catching up with everyone’s summer adventures.
Messy Church this month is Friday, September 14 and the theme is the Church Through Time. We tend to think that the church never changes and nothing could be further from the truth. I have included a reflection on the theme below. We changed our time last spring (and for that matter our day as well) to 5:30 to 7:30. This Messy Church we will be adding something new. There will be a discussion area where people can have a coffee, pop, juice and talk about various topics. The discussion area is open to all.
THE CHANGING CHURCH
If you have been a part of Church for any length of time, you may be aware how resistant people are to change in the church. Change is greeted with great skepticism and the sentiment, “but this is how we’ve always done it”. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The Church, just like everything else in life, is in a constant state of change. It has only been in the last 30 years that women were allowed to become priests in the Anglican Church. 40 years ago, the priest celebrated in front of the altar, with his back to the people. Services. like our Contemporary service and Messy Church are pretty recent. These are big changes.
It is important for us to be able to look back at how the Church has changed, in order to realize that change is necessary. God reveals new understanding and new knowledge of God’s self and our relationship with God, both as individuals and as a people. Cultural changes also need to be reflected in the Church. Women in leadership positions in society is a prime example. With change comes growth and new energy.
Things are not as they always have been. How we worship is a prime example. We have some early liturgies (ways of worshipping), dating from the second century and there are similarities to ours, but differences as well. Early worship occurred in homes after Christians were driven out of the synagogues. Everyone would bring some wine that would be dumped in a bowl, mixed with water and then shared at the communion. The first structure built specifically for worship was not built until the third century.
The Roman Empire had an agreement with Jewish people that they were not required to worship the emperor as god. At first the Christians worshipped in the synagogues alongside their Jewish brothers and sisters. Fairly quickly, Christian beliefs clashed with Jewish beliefs and the Christians were forced to leave. Once outside the protective agreement with Rome, Christians were required to worship the emperor, something they could and would not do and the persecutions began. Christian worship was dangerous and required a high level of commitment.
The Church underwent a change again, when it was declared the official church of the Roman Empire in 380. Church and State became closely aligned and if one wanted to further one’s career/business/social standing, one had better be a Christian. It is only recently that this has not been the case in the Western world. The Church became focused on buildings and rich trappings. It also became entwined in the power and authority of the state.
In an attempt to refocus on spirit filled worship and serving God and God’s people, the monastic movement began. The day was divided into periods of worship and the focus was on service. The monasteries were the hospitals, hotels and places of refuge in the medieval world. In the dark ages, they were the places that kept the lamp of knowledge burning.
The power of the Church was centred in Rome and it was formidable. As is often the case, tremendous power becomes a breeding ground for corruption. At this time there was a great resurgence in seeking a new understanding of the nature of God and people’s relationship with God. Rome’s power was threatened and bitter fighting and political unrest resulted. The Reformation had begun. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a cathedral in Germany, Henry VIII split the English Church away from Rome, and similar happenings were occurring throughout Europe.
It is important for us to realize that how we worship now is not the way we have always done it. The Church changes as it needs to change in order to meet people where they are. Change most often happens at the messy edges, not from the centres of power. It is our job to seek guidance from God in order to know where and to what we are being called.
Messy Church is a good example of how this process has worked and is working.
The Church has been and always will be, God’s people gathering to worship together and then, refreshed and re-energized, going in to the world to love and serve God, God’s creation and others. The buildings are a convenience, a common place of gathering. When the buildings and the ‘furniture’ within them become the focus of a worshipping community, then it is time for a rethink and a renewal.
The Church is not as it was, even as little as 30 years ago, and it is not as it will be, even in 30 years. It is God’s Church and God is for ever creating and re-creating. Best to not stand in God’s way!