Of course, in this world of change, even newspapers are struggling to survive and are increasingly pushing their service towards on-line distribution with associated advertising income. So it is without too much of a surprise that the media are of course suggesting that the CofE must change too. This morning I found that The Telegraph is suggesting that we should have midweek services, as Sunday’s are simply too inconvenient. Browse the papers a little further and you’ll find that the Church apparently needs to change, restructure, modify and of course predictably disband.
The media’s beating drum of doom is hardly a surprise. Head to any town centre or out of town retail park on a Sunday morning and the shops are open and people are rushing around with their kin with groceries and now of course, Christmas shopping behind them. There is no denying that Sunday trading has had an impact on Church attendance. Yet businesses tell us that by closing on a Sunday morning they would lose £X,XXX,XXX amount of money. But take a closer look past the figures and you’ll see the tired sleepy faces of the staff of these retail outlets. These people aren’t paid a Sunday rate, instead Sunday working means being paid the exact same rate as the rest of the week. Nor do these people have a choice - you either work on Sunday or you get another job, it's as simple as that. Their normal working week is not family friendly. Sundays are a normal working day rather than a day of rest. Hardly surprising that this goes on when the world’s goals are focussed on the balance sheet. Consequentially people are mobile cash dispensers and clearing them of their cash is a science in itself.
As a Church we celebrate Sunday as the day of the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, Sunday means something, same too with our liturgy. We believe that simple Bread and Wine becomes truly Our Lord’s body and blood when consecrated by a priest. We believe in the immaculate birth of Our Lord and in the virginity of his Mother. We believe that people need a day of rest, simply because this was what God said we should do – and yes as a Church we have moved from the Sabbath (Saturday) to the first day of the week (Sunday) but we do so to honour God not the balance sheet. But there is more to this rambling bloggers article decrying the changes in our society, I believe that people are starting to see that those parishes who hold to Orthodox beliefs, such as those in The Society, offer something different from the liberal mainstream. The general public aren’t fooled by a Church which changes day-by-day to the whims of the people.
Those within the Society are tentatively whispering that something is happening, people are coming to our services, being baptised and confirmed, young and old alike. And why not? We are preaching the message of our Lord. We are sharing the good news of Jesus. We are offering to cleanse them of their sins and to offer them Our Lord in the sacrament of communion – knowing it is His body and blood – as He himself said it was – and which the early Church from John the Apostle, Clement of Rome to Thomas of Aquinas also believed. So, my advice to those who don’t follow Orthodox beliefs – you’re not going to listen to my advice, you carry on. After all you’ve ignored the teachings of Jesus, The Apostles (including St Paul) and the Apostolic Fathers and their successors not to forget the Holy Catholic and Orthodox Church which you are successors of through the Apostolic Tradition.
We on the other hand, who are orthodox in our beliefs, will continue to grow by sharing the truth of Jesus Christ and the whole of the Bible to people – bringing souls one-by-one to the gates of heaven and the eternal City of God. We will celebrate the mass, in the same way as the Apostles did in Jerusalem. We will speak of the spiritual life and experiences that mark our own individual pilgrimage. We will baptise and confirm knowing that something unique and spiritually enhancing has occurred in the life of that individual, even if they may not be immediately aware of it themselves. We will cleanse the sinner. Bring good news even to those dying and assure them that we shall see one another again in the life everlasting to come.