(image from commons.wikipedia.org)
Many years ago, I was part of a church which began to become a little bit more High Church than it had been - the pomp and ceremony was introduced by a new village vicar with grand ideas, and it changed the place a little. I've been to the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Chapel, a mixed Baptist/Methodist/URC congregation since I was last a member of a Church of England congregation, and now I am very firmly settled in the Methodist tradition. I've always worshipped the same God through it all, but the ways of worshipping have changed with the traditions - the Church of England was quite bound to liturgy, and we said the same prayers and responses week in and week out until we didn't really need the books any longer because we could recite it all!
I caught a comment somewhere on Facebook today about the difference between churches which want to get more people into the churches, and ministries which want to get the churches out into the world. I think that there is a huge need for the churches to minister in the world, because we have to take God out into the world to the people - and services like the one I watched on tv this afternoon would scare a lot of people well away. The music was beautiful but rather inaccessible for most, and the Bible readings were from very old translations, full of words like "spake unto" which don't help attract young people today. The other thing they used which I didn't find encouraging in particular were ancient poems. They do have their place, I am sure, and they are right to be respectful of historic Christian thought, but to the person in the street today, they are almost unintelligible.
(image from cumbriaweb.org.uk)
The people that Jesus called to be his disciples were fishermen, plain and simple men who could communicate with other people, not particularly well-educated, but keen enough to spread his word and follow him. We don't need a doctorate to preach God's Word and to share His love in the world today, and the manual worker, the farm labourer [UJ], the bus driver [my dad] and the cleaner [my mum] need to hear the Word of God in language they can understand just as much as the scientist, the lawyer and the teacher [the FH] do. Methodism has always been a grass roots denomination and I am clearer in my mind today than I have been before that it is the right place for me.
We have noticed that our Friday morning group which comes together for our Knit and Natter session is as much a congregation as the group which comes together to worship on a Sunday morning; they care deeply for one another, they contribute to charity work and they are very generous with their time and their resources whenever we are fundraising, and these are the ladies who come together to do the chapel cleaning, too, most often! They support chapel activities, and their fellowship group is a strong one. Some profess a faith, others don't. We welcome them all.
As Easter morning approaches, I remember that Christ died for ALL of us, whoever we are. The churches need to reflect that, and I need to remember to make my services accessible to the whole congregation, whether I am in a town or a rural village.