A friend ,kindly took me to an evening at the Episcopal Church in the town for an “Evening of Quiet.” I am a bit of an ecumenical, having worshiped in what ever denomination was available at the place I was living in at the time. I love the Baptists best of all, my spiritual home, worked for the Methodists, my great grandparents being staunch members, was sent out to Bible College by a loving Congregational Free Church and married into the Church of Scotland. So I’m a bit of a denominational mongrel.
The local “piskeys” have only 12 members, 6 of whom are actually active. Their Church must have been lovely at one time ,but now needs a lot of repair. It has an adjoining Rectory which is enormous and needs £70,000 of repairs before they can get a new Rector.
The evening programme was one of reflection on prayer and love, with an invited speaker who leads retreats and sometimes worships with us in the C of S. Despite it being the coldest church I have ever been in,I thought my legs had gone numb, it was the most wonderful two hours I have spent in a long time. The smell of the candles was intoxicating, reminding me of the scripture verse Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer be set forth before you as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” Beautiful choral music played during the prayer times and part of the silences, the speaker was gifted and inspiring, but also fairly intellectual, and if I found my self drifting ,I missed important points, but the content of the “sermonettes” kept pinging on light bulbs of thought, eureka moments, when I wanted to shout , “At last, I get it!”, I found it hard to take in all the message. The whole thing climaxed in a short communion service, made special, I think by going forward to kneel at the altar something I seldom get the chance to do. It wasn’t just the evenings content that brought me alive, it left me in a quandary too. We spend so much time trying to make our services attractive to others, maybe it’s a bit more of the traditional and mystical we need, or am I just getting old?
The Rev. and I work hard to serve our congregations, as we are called to do but, sometimes we both feel drained. On this night I felt as though I had been immersed in God for the two hours that I was there. It felt indulgent and rather selfish to enjoy myself so much ,but I came away feeling as if I had attended some expensive spa. Relaxed and satisfied.
It just shows the venue, the decor, even the temperature of the room doesn’t matter but where a few are gathered expecting things of God, there He is..! What luxury.