March 18, 2012 by Worship, Community, Formation
Because we are lucky enough to have a priest in the family, we are lucky enough to be able to worship together, when we gather from our corners of the UK. That’s especially useful when, say, we meet in deepest Herefordshire for Mothering Sunday weekend. Of course, we could worship without a priest, but somehow a priest is a priest even in their own family. When my father-in-law says ‘worship!’, which he does in the gentlest way, wife, children, grandchildren, and children in law do not demur. What might be a howler from a grandfather is a reasonable request when the same man is a priest.
Father in law provides the momentum, even to a willing congregation; he also prepares the worship. His work is simple enough that a skittish family does not feel constricted; he remains faithful to bible and tradition; and his meditations are reflective enough to engage three generations in a common theme. Most uncomfortably of all, but most importantly of all, he is willing to push us or carry us all towards prayer, that most exposing of activities.
We are the same family before and after. But we are reminded of the rock on which we all rest, even if the other conversations of the weekend are unable to acknowledge it.
Infrequent as they are, these short services also shine bright lights on to our regular worship. Because they are purposeful, they help us to look at the purposes in our weekly liturgy. In a previous year we have shared bread and wine on a windy hilltop in a place or way which perhaps does not meet the canons of our church; yet the vibrancy of that moment has only reinforced our regular communion.
Our family is a community which gathers, then turns to God. Perhaps church is the opposite – we come to the builiding looking for God, then slowly form a gathered community. Family makes worship: worship makes family.
The Book of Acts tells of families coming together into the Christian faith. It need not always be a solitary journey, and for many it could be much easier to sustain, together. But few families have their own chaplain. And with that thought I always carry away from these weekends a seed of joy and a seed of sorrow.