Clergy Corner – August 21, 2019

This week the Collect for Sunday’s worship asks God that we, the church, being gathered in unity, may manifest God’s power among all peoples, to the glory of God.   The “collect of the day” is a prayer that sets a theme for worship.  During the season after Pentecost, the collect of the day is about individual or corporate actions of the body of Christ, which is the church.  

In the Collect we are asking to gather in unity.  Travel should be over for the summer, for most families.  We should be back at school, at work, and at church!  It would be grand to have 90% of our members at church this Sunday.  It would be record attendance for us on a Sunday that does not fall on Christmas or Easter.  There is strength when the Holy Spirit is moving through a church that feels alive and vibrant because its members are eager to be present and fellowship in worship with the other members of the church family.  We have approximately 90 communicants (declared members who participate in the Holy Eucharist a minimum of three times each year).  That is a pretty low bar …3 times a year!

This morning, I worked on getting our communicant register brought up-to-date.  It’s not there yet, but it is getting close.  There were at least 40 names in the register beside whose name I wrote “Inactive 8-20-2019”.  That means we haven’t seen them in worship service for the past 18 months.  Actually, some of the names, I had never heard before and haven’t seen since I started at St. Stephen’s in the late 80’s.  Many have moved.  Some may be attending other churches but have not requested a transfer of membership.  Sadly, I fear that many just are not going to church anywhere.  

Average attendance in the workplace is above 90%.  Average school attendance exceeds 90%.  Church attendance is well below 50%  Doesn’t God deserve more from Christ’s disciples?  I think of each of us as “a light of Christ,” and every time an additional person walks into the worship service, our nave gets just a little brighter.  The brighter the nave, the greater the unity and the power of God’s people at St. Stephen’s.  90 % of 90 communicants is 81.  It would be amazing to have 81 communicants present on the last Sunday of August!  My prayer for our church is that we all commit ourselves to being in worship, in unity with fellow disciples, every Sunday.

Prayer for the week:
I sit in church, Lord,
very aware of your presence,
glad I can draw aside
from the hustle and bustle of the street.
Yet even in here, I can hear the
regular beeping of the pedestrian crossing monitor,
the distinctive rattle of the diesel taxi engine,
the screech of brakes at the traffic lights.
Somehow I hear you telling me
never to sever the relationship
between the silence of mystery in worship 
and the noise of everyday life,
for in the junction of the two, is You,
Lord of Heaven and Earth.
(Martin Wallace, Book of a Thousand Prayers)