It’s now been two years and a day since I attended my first church service. It feels like longer. It feels like life began when I got there. And by that I do not mean that it was sitting within my Parish’s walls for 2 years that has enabled me to live fully. As Bishop Michael Marshall has it:
You can no more become a Christian by sitting in a Church all day than you can become a motor car by sitting all day in a garage.
My Parish uplifted me, the Vicar inspired and inspires me, the walls enable a quiet breathing space, the candles bring calm and the unity of prayer brings joy and hope.
But that quote from Bishop Marshall has reminded me over my time as a ‘Church-attending Christian’, that it’s about so much more than that. It’s about loving the whole world, not just those in the bubble of the people in your town or home. It’s about loving Christ not just in hands-together-eyes-closed prayer, but also in the faces of others, of Christians, of Muslims, of Atheists. Of fellow brothers and sisters in humanity.
God is Love. And you can’t put him, her, in a box. Whether it’s a box with a pointy spire or a box with a domed lid, you can’t expect that all of God is there waiting for you. God is in everything.
I’ve learnt a lot in two years. More than I can sum up in this post. But what I can say now is that attending beautiful Church services (like Choral Evensong in Durham Cathedral, or the Eucharist in my Home Parish this morning) is an essential way to come together with other people to pray, to breathe, to listen. To be still. As long as it does not exclude.
We cannot become Christians by sitting in a Church all day. We cannot form a peaceful world if we do not listen to one another. Pop the border of personal bubbles. We must help one another. We must come together. How? We can’t attain world peace overnight. But we can ourselves aspire to in all things we do from this day, do them with love and care.
John 13:34-35: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.