Why do we go to church? I am sure the clergy have an opinion; but I wonder why the laity go to church? Clearly the answer is different for everyone. And the answers of the laity may be different from the expectations of the clergy. And that there are many answers to this question is meet and right. In decades past, the church used to use the doctrine and articles of the church (there are 39 I think) to resolve such questions quickly and easily.
I remember being aware of that when I was confirmed. Bishop Reginald Hollis of Montreal was, I was told by my finger-waving-priest , authorized to ask me any question he desired and I was warned by my priest that I needed to have the doctrinal answer of else the Bishop may pass me over – skip me in the service – and lay hands on the next person. I was not afraid. I had done my homework. And besides, Bishop Hollis was my friend. He had midwifed my vocation to one day be a priest when I was 10. He had smiled at me with gentle kindness – a smile in no way as creepy as some of the other clergy around me. Bishop Hollis is, to this day, along with Brother Paul Wessinger, my icon of gentle humility. My priest was not. My parish priest stopped manipulating me when, two years later, at the age of 12, I asked my parents to take me to a different parish which they did.
It is hard on the clergy today to be facing upcoming generations who will simply un-fund the church if it behaves that way. Money is power every bit as much as title is authority. These days, title is no longer power among the Gen X and Gen Y generations. And as the church awakens to this, there are growing pains.
I have not read the Articles for a long time. But I know why I go to church. I go because I want to be with people as they take the bread and wine. I want to be with people as they take the meals lovingly cooked by Kathryn and Jack and their teams of hard workers. I want to be transported to the Oz of a Kingdom which is sometimes hard to see – but made easier with gorgeous music and liturgy which tip toes around awe. And I want to basque in God’s affirmation that God is simply crazy about me – about us – about this planet.