North Central Review -Juy 2017
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News & Views
The following article was written by Carolynne Noonan and sent to The Review, The Age and the Anglican Advocate. Thank you to Carolynne for sharing her experience of her Sunday morning at Christ Church.
This morning I attended The Anglican Church in Kilmore with the service being conducted by the wonderful and engaging Rector Kim Benton. I've recently started attending this church service after many, many years of non attendance. In fact its a little embarrassing to admit, but I haven't actually been a regular church goer since my secondary school days where I attended an all girls Catholic school.
As a child in Benalla, mum would take us three girls to the Uniting Church each Sunday, where we would spend half of the hour in the church and the rest of the time in Sunday School. The church was always full of people. Does anyone remember doing this as a kid? I have fond memories of this experience and have thought about it many times over the last 25 years...
Today there were only about 15 people in the congregation. I was quite shocked at this number and I'm writing to hopefully ask/discuss the reasons why so few people attend church these days, myself included and why it is that I have personally seen the need to begin attending church again?? Because like any organization that suffers poor attendance levels leads to the cessation of the group altogether. Which is my impetus for writing this letter as I would hate for our local Church to close when I've only just rediscovered its precious gems! I hope more people realise these gems too and come back to church.
I learned about the stories in the bible at a very early age and they have always been a part of my life somewhere and at some stage. Just like going to school, having pimples and getting drunk at 15. These stories were read and explained to me by mum, my teachers and the minister during church services. How many of you know of the one about Jesus turning one fish and one vessel of wine into many? No wait, I think he turned water into wine. I was most in ore of this one and remember pondering for longest of time just how this human man did this ( I was only 7 or 8 years old). Or the one about Moses parting the sea, or was he the one that walked on water? Or the one about the 'Boy Who Cried Wolf,' or was that even a bible story? I may need a refresher course! Or the one about the return of the prodigal son, the brother who squandered his inheritance but was welcomed home by his father. These stories have helped shape the adult I've become, Im sure of it. I have friends who proclaim to be atheists, which is someone who doesn't believe in God and Jesus, I think, or is it that they don't believe in God but Jesus is believable?? Im not really sure and I'm not judging, Im just really curious..... Maybe this is why so few people attend church because the majority of us are atheists?
I once said I was a Christian during a regular, everyday conversation and I'll never forget the feeling that I was being judged as a little odd? Is there a something wrong about saying you believe in God? How many of you would say you are a Christian, but not practicing, which is someone who believes in God and Jesus but doesn't go to church. (I think!)
So why have I come back? Is it because my only child is now 23 and doesn't require me to take him to sport on Sunday? Is it because Im bored on Sunday mornings? Or is it because Im just a bit dissatisfied with life, a bit unfulfilled. I think its because the church, God and Jesus are such an ingrained part of life, back when my life was simple and easy and joyful. A feeling of protection, certainty and nurturing to my soul, like I'm not alone in this life. Those stories from the bible have formed the corner stones of my life and help me to make sense of our world, as an adult, just as they did when I was a child.
Today I enjoyed the experience of going to church because I felt like I'd come home again to God's house (don't freak out on me now readers!) where everyone is welcomed, no matter your race, age, sex or social class . I have come home to the safety and security of God's guide to life on earth. Where last night my partner, friends and I sang 80's songs a local pub, to singing hymns in church this morning. Both experiences were equally enjoyable, fulfilling and the same. What do you think?
(Thanks to my mum for taking us to church as children! Thank you also Father Kim Benton for engaging me.)