We thrive within communities by interacting with others. The community of the faithful followers of Jesus is modelled on ordinary family life. We are by no means perfect and we make mistakes like all family members. We seek reconciliation and forgiveness just as ordinary family members do within their own family circle.
The invitation to gather together and share the bread and wine at the Eucharist is in response to Jesus's invitation to sit and eat with him. This is his gift to us and was promised at the Last Supper when he shared a meal with his disciples on the night before he died.
The Eucharist or 'great thanksgiving' service brings us into a relationship with Jesus. We receive him and his grace works within us to bring us his love and forgiveness. We are restored to a new life which gives us strength to live a better life for the common good. Without this participation we are failing to fully appreciate and draw on God's grace.
Rather than the experience of church being a negative one, we should see it as an opportunity for thanksgiving and rejoice in the gift that is offered. It is nothing less than a life-giving event. The way God's grace works is often barely noticeable and probably doesn't register as a dramatic experience. However, it is the gradual and hardly perceptible transformation of who we are that is important. Our transformation by God's grace is a slow business. Today we expect instant results but we need to stay with God. Church belonging brings us into the wider community of faithful people and we need each other to support and encourage steadfastness.
Going to church then is more than just an occasional visit, a wedding or a funeral. We learn to practice the art of loving our neighbour and improve our skills of caring for each other. I invite all those who are unsure to try it and see - you are welcome. Every blessing
WHY GO TO CHURCH asks Rev Dilys
New growth, new birth, longer days and warmer weather all help to revive our spirits and increase our energy levels. The great festival of Easter is celebrated in church life and renews our hope for a better world, as we find that faith in a loving God can make a difference to lives. People attend church services at Easter, if not at other times in the year (apart from Christmas), because they feel the need to re connect with church.
Surveys show that today a reasonable percent age of people believe in some form of God, but we know from weekly records that attendance at Sunday services is falling.
People are more interested in spirituality than in institutional religion. They may say 'yes' to God, but 'no' to church. Some will say that going to public worship services 'puts them off. Any form of ritual is experienced by many as lacking in spontaneity, impersonal - even boring.
Believing without belonging is how we can describe this fact. Religion is again often seen as a private affair between the person and God and attendance at a church service as irrelevant.
So the question is 'Why go to church? I can give you many reasons such as fellowship and friendship,inspiring music, the love of the liturgy and the drama of ritual, wonderful architecture etc but all of this means little if there is no depth of experience of God's grace at work within us. No amount of coercion, feelings of obligation, family traditions, guilty complexes and more can bring people to the realisation that God's grace is offered to all who will accept it.
Christianity is a religion of belonging to the family of God. As a member of Christ's family, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and would naturally expect to take part in Christian gatherings. Jesus called his disciples to eat and drink with him because they were his friends. It doesn't make much sense therefore to practise a Christian spirituality and way of life and have nothing to do with other Christians.