Last Sunday was a day of contrasts.
In our church at Hellingly, our fourth Sunday is always a family service, which is a short and lively service with an emphasis on children and families.
We have fun.
The music is more of a modern chorus type and children get given instruments to make a joyful noise! Emphasis is upon making worship fun because God is fun, among other things!
The church was packed with well over 80 there.
Then in the evening we had a traditional, choral evensong with a robed choir according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer – bog standard traditional.
There were about 30 there for this and we all enjoyed tea and freshly made cake after.
Hellingly knows how to party!
The contrast between the two services couldn’t be more marked and yet in both was a sense of fun, joy and the presence of God.
The wider Church in general is struggling. Congregations are generally getting older and numbers are falling.
There are all kinds of programmes and ideas being launched to generate interest in what church is all about, like Messy Church with emphasis upon crafts, modern music with drums and guitars and hi-tech with screens and whizzy lighting.
But getting ‘with it’ like making women bishops and saying yes to every liberal tendency has little to do with what God is about.
These ‘gimmicks’ will attract some people perhaps for a time.
The whole concept of God as an unseen, all powerful being that is intimately interested in us and who sent Jesus as his human embodiment to show us the way to know God is pretty alien to modern materialistic minds.
By appealing to the senses with sound and colour it is hoped people will perceive the intangible qualities of God, but without substance I doubt it!
Instead when God’s Spirit is at work and people are alive with that Spirit then a lively family service or a staid traditional prayer book evensong will touch something deeper within the soul. And a slice of cake prepared with God’s love helps too!