Dear Friends in Christ:
I shared an apple with a friend the other day. When I cut into it, I was reminded that apples have cores and of several sayings attached to the core of the apple. Like, “rotten to the core,” or “core issues.” To be “at the core” is to be at the heart of a thing and I find myself wanting to remind myself of the core of the Church.
It is Liturgy. It is Sunday morning worship.
It starts by proclaiming “Blessed be God” and does not end until we proclaim, “Let us go forth.” It is the readings from scripture and the proclamation of the Gospel and our faith, it is prayers for our world and a chance to ask forgiveness, it is fellowship and food, it is song and silence. This is the core of what it is to be Christian, and in the Episcopal Church we strive to worship God in the beauty of Holiness.
I think I need this reminder because of all the challenges we are facing in the world today. We face natural disasters and human-made calamities, poor choices and downright evil intent; and facing these becomes more intense each day. It is easy to be overwhelmed. Yet we need not be overcome with despair, for God is with us, loves us, and offers each day to assist.
I know that the Church is called to be a witness to all the pain and suffering of those in need, and I know the Church is called to speak out and to reach out in many ways. We do have a witness in the world. But, our core is worship. There are many social ills we can help with – but there are others who can do these tasks as well or better than we can. There are many issues to speak out about and we will – but there are those not in the Church who can, will, and do speak with powerful moral authority. There is no one else but the faithful who worship. It must remain our core.
Do not read this as an excuse to avoid whatever strong and important work in the world that you feel God calling you to, but do read it as a call to worship and prayer in all things.
Without worship we have no center, no core. And our worship should strive to be at its best each week. The best music, the best readings, the best preaching, the best praying, and the best fellowship we are capable of making. This takes time and attention to detail. It takes work to be at our best, and, while we will often fall short of this goal, we must always strive toward it.