It's been several weeks since my last post about Let Us Attend, by Fr. Lawrence Farley from Canada. Here's the link in case you forgot what I wrote and/or need a refresher on the book and where you can buy it. Since I wrote the last post, I've had time to finish the book (twice) and process a little bit more about my Sunday morning experiences at church. The last time I wrote, I was thinking a lot about the focus of worship on Sunday morning. This time, I've been contemplating about the lessons of worship.
Each week I leave church reminded of three things: Who God is, Who I am, and Who Jesus is. I am thrust into these reminders very quickly. The first few Antiphons serving as a prologue or thesis statement on the rest of the Liturgy. If you asked me what Church was about, I would tell you (with very little variation), that it was about those three things.
Who God is
Without being a theological treatise on the nature of God, this is what I learn each week: God is loving, good, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, and holy. The words of the first two antiphons (Ps. 103 and 145, respectively) remind me of these truths.
"Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy Name... The Lord is compassionate and merciful, of great goodness.... He will not always chide.... He maintains His faithfulness to all generations...."
We then get to hear about His work in history through the reading of Scripture (always preceded by psalms and Alleluias). The service climaxes with the request that He come into our lives, fill us, bless us, and turn the gifts on the table (mysteriously) into the Body and Blood of Christ. God is. That is what I learn each week about God.
Who I am
In a metaphysical sense, I am a creature of material make up. More than that, though, I am created in God's image and destined to be made like Him by His work in me through the Holy Spirit. We remind each other throughout the service to worship God with our whole being, that He is compassionate and merciful to the humble; but He resists the proud. Lay aside pride. Sit at His feet. Drink deeply of His mercy.
The Scripture lessons remind me that I am sinful and in need of a savior. They also remind me that God chose to be that savior. That He loved me so much that He became a human being to live and die for me and rescue me from Hell. That reality is never more clear than at the time of communion. As I sit and watch the faithful go forward to the chalice, I truly do wish for them to taste the Bread of Life and drink from the Fountain of Immortality. I want that for them, because I want that for me. We are all one body, and I am so dependent on each of them right now--their prayers and support.
Who Christ is
Christ is God incarnate. Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who took on flesh and blood and lived and died in real time. His picture is in our room. His mother and His faithful followers adorn our church. His eyes follow me. His presence permeates the room where we worship.
The icon of Christ at our church is in English. The Gospel text is "Come unto me all you who are weary...." Every week I approach that icon and place all my cares into his hands. I come to Him, asking to have my burden lifted. I teach my daughter to worship Him alone. When I leave church each week I go out knowing that He was born, lived, died, rose again, ascended, intercedes for us, and will someday come again.
Let us attend. Let us be attentive. It's a call for each of us to "lay aside all earthly cares" and to listen to what is being said. The human mind wanders, and the imagination gets away from us. Those times when we are reminded to listen are there for our benefit, because God knows what it's like to have distractions, and the Church knows that people are weak and need reminders. So let us attend. God is present. God is loving. You are a sinner who needs Jesus. Jesus loves you so much He died for you. Remember.