I smile warmly at my friend as I sit down with them in the dining hall. "How was your Sunday morning?" I ask, by way of conversation.
"Well," she pauses, almost reluctant to go on, "you might say I went to the Bedside Baptist this morning". She gives me a sheepish grin.
As I try to hide my disappointment, I reprove myself for judging and wonder again if church really consists of going to a service every Sunday morning.
My mind fills with images: I see magnificent stone cathedrals with glowing stained glass, a strange mixture of beauty and solemnity lifting the soul upwards - empty. I see wood slatted shutters pulled across windows to hide furtive worshipers who meet at night to sing and pray and learn more about the Word become flesh. I see drum kits and PowerPoints and someone who stands and sings, awkwardly wondering if he should raise his hands like the person in front of him. And what about those conversations with a friend, each of you sharing your fears hopes, praying with so much care that the tears become part of your praying? Or those long walks when the shared delight in the beauty around makes conversation into something that includes as many silences as words?
Yes, church is much more than Sunday morning. But you could have told me that. The real question is, how do we live intentionally as part of that church? My last post looked at one group of people seeking to answer that question. Whether we are part of the "emerging church" or not, however, we must consider the question. Doesn't being part of the church necessarily involve helping to meet the needs of others, spending time regularly in prayer with fellow believers, spreading the good news, sharing the sacraments, and simply living in loving community with other believers? And how does this all tie into what we do on Sundays, and every day of the week for that matter? I hope and pray that I may be more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit where change is needed in this area.