Friday, June 13, 2008

Why go to Church?

One of the best things about being invited to minister in the USA is the excuse it provides to pass through Los Angeles and visit St Mary of the Angels Anglican Church, Hollywood. Three times I have enjoyed the hospitality of that great parish, been uplifted by their sumptuous and exuberant yet deeply spiritual worship in the very best Missal tradition, and had the honour of preaching the Word of God from their pulpit. St Mary's is my kind of parish.

Everyone knows that such parishes thrive only because of the faithfulness, prayer and hard work of behind-the-scenes heroes who are hardly ever noticed, and would be deeply embarrassed to be singled out for attention. Well, one such hero at St Mary's is Father Beau Davis. If one were to be cheeky and say that he is a true eccentric among eccentrics (as is right and fitting in Hollywood!), it is also true to say that his faithfulness to the Lord over many years as a layman, then as a deacon and priest, has inspired a whole lot of people, young and old in their spiritual lives.

Every now and then Fr Beau passes on to his friends an email containing something that we already know, but which says it in such a stunning way that we hear it as if for the first time. This morning I was thinking about some of the witty sayings of Father Austin Day, late of Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney. He would sometimes say, "It's no good having great mystical experiences if they don't help you with the daily plod in God." In other words, we have to find and love the Lord in our ordinary day-to-day lives, sustained by our habits of worship and prayer as well as the friendship of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Isn't that what it's all about? Isn't that the Catholic life? I was thinking about these things this morning when an email arrived from Fr Beau which moved me greatly, because it makes the same point in a different way. I, in turn, pass it on to you.

Thank you, Fr Beau. I know that you shared this with us because it sums up your own faith journey:

If you're spiritually alive, you're going to love this!

If you're spiritually dead, you won't want to read it.
If you're spiritually curious, there is still hope!
You decide.


A Churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this . . . They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!" When you are DOWN to nothing . . . God is UP to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!"

Now that you're done reading, if you're of a mind, you can send it on! But in any case, always remember: "When fear is knocking at your door, simply say, "Dear Lord, could you get that for me?"


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