Tuesday, August 21, 2007
This past Sunday I worshiped at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I've heard all about the dynamic church for years, but this was my first time to visit in person. The space is awe-inspiring and the windows beautiful, including the rose window above the main doors to the church. The choir was excellent, but didn't usurp the congregation's need to participate in the singing and liturgical responses, which is very important to me. There are so many wonderful things that can be said about Grace Cathedral, but what struck me most is something that can be said about every congregation gathered for worship. Not only every Christian congregation, but every Jewish or Muslim or Jain service, as well. It is the miracle that happens in our worshiping communities week after week.
Maybe it's because I was in an unfamiliar place, sitting near people I didn't know. Maybe it was because I was in a large city where we could here the sounds of people in the park nearby. Or maybe I was just paying attention this week, but I saw the miracle. Really!
It was the gathering of a group of people for worship. That's the miracle! As I sat in my pew and waited for my turn to walk up the aisle to receive communion, I thought about how incredible it is that this many people chose to come to this place on this morning, to sing and pray and listen to a sermon and receive communion, instead of doing the thousands of other things they could have been doing. And in San Francisco, no less, where there is no lack of things to do! But also in every place where people could easily fall into discouragement about the state of our world, or cynicism about the state of the church, or mere apathy in the face of secularism disguised as intellectualism. It is truly a miracle that anyone gets up on a Sunday morning and goes to church, or bothers to go to temple or mosque at the end of a long work week. There is every reason not to go, and yet there are people who continue to feel called by God to worship. We all come for a mix of reasons, but the fact that we show up at all is amazing. It is no less amazing than walking on water, or giving a barren woman a child, or calling a people out of the desert and into Grace.