Since officially leaving our church and finding ourselves 'between churches', we have been on a bit of a journey - cue X Factor style music! We aren't sure exactly what we are looking for, or even if we are looking for anything in particular, but we just know that there is a shift in the spirit when it comes to churches and how they run and what it means to be part of the church. We can't really put our finger on what it is God has for us yet, but it is coming.
With all this in mind, the other Saturday I suddenly announced that I thought we should go to the Sunday service at Exeter Cathedral! My lovely Husband is used to me making these sudden 'odd' announcements and made a sort of non-committal noise. But not easily deterred on these things, I said again later that it might be really interesting to go. So we checked times and began to learn a whole new language straight away; things like Mattins, Sung Eucharist and Mass. I have been to many churches in my childhood, including Catholic and Church Of England but my Husband and children, who became Christians in a New Frontiers church, had never experienced the whole liturgy type thing!! But we set off thinking a little more about what we were wearing than we might usually for a church meeting and secretly hoping it wasn't Communion as we didn't know how to do it formally! On entering the Cathedral we were handed a lot of information and went and found some seats. We decided sitting in the middle was good, so we could follow the people in front. Exeter Cathedral is a really beautiful building so sitting there and looking around was a real pleasure and the first thing I read was how the Cathedral had been used for worship for 900 years!! I was really taken aback by this and suddenly realised what a heritage we had in this place, I wondered what had taken place in the cathedral over the years and how the stones must resonate with worship after that length of time.
The Service began and it is a little odd to repeat set words back in response to what the person at the front is saying, but the amazing thing about it was that the words were truly wonderful! We found the whole thing an amazing experience, the service covered every part of the Christian faith and when the words, which could be seen as religious, are read with the right heart and you truly mean what you are saying, it didn't matter that we were reading words from a page, as they were coming right from our hearts. It was fantastic to hear them pray for the Monarchy and the Government and for the sick and it was excellent to read The Creed which is a fantastic declaration of who we are and what we believe! The other thing that I loved about the service and it being in the Cathedral was the reverence of it, I think with Charismatic churches we have 'thrown the baby out with the bath water' some what when it comes to reverence as I think the fear is that it will come across as religious and that is a label that we try to steer clear of. But there was something amazing and almost heavenly being in this grand and amazing building with a feeling of holiness and grandeur that we don't usually experience. God reminded me of the Throne Room and how this was akin, on a very small scale, to the regalness and all the ceremony which takes place there, a fantastic experience.
I should also say that taking communion wasn't as scary as we thought it would be, we just followed the people in front and held our hands out at the appropriate moment. It was all quite user friendly really and both our kids enjoyed it, actually our Daughter loved it, I think she just really liked taking part in the service without pressure and being in such a historic building and enjoying the beauty of it all.
I don't think I would like to go every week, but for an experience it was definitely up there with some of the best and an eye opener to the fact that being religious, or not being religious, is a matter of the heart - if you really mean with all your heart the words you are saying then it doesn't matter if you have said those same words over and over before; God sees your heart and that is the most important thing.