19 June 2009

Continuing the tradition

The church I belong to (St Alban's, Highgate) recently celebrated its 120th anniversary. A hundred and twenty years is not very long by world standards. Many Europeans worship in churches built many hundreds of years ago. My grandfather was born well before the church here was established (and despite some senile moments, I'm not very old.) But the building is one of the earliest built in Perth, and a lot has happened in 120 years that has been worth celebrating.

During the anniversary service I suddenly realised my own indebtedness to the people who have faithfully worshiped and ministered there over the years. These days I feel like part of the furniture - comfortable, serviceable and in need of dusting off occasionally. When I first attended, in my early twenties, I was struggling to decide whether I really wanted to be a Christian or not.

I found the style of worship I encountered quite strange - I'd come from what one friend describes as 'wishy washy Anglicanism' into what was then quite a charismatic, evangelical congregation. The sermon (which was longer than any sermon I'd ever heard before or since) meant nothing to me. What did leave me thinking was that, over morning tea after the service, I met people who talked to each other about what God was doing in their lives. They talked as if they thought God was real and active.

Later a young couple visited us at home and invited us to a meal. My involvement in the church grew from there and my faith with it. I don't doubt that there were people praying for me in those days. What I saw during the anniversary service was that I was now in the position that others were in when I first attended the church. When I talk to newcomers, when I pray for them, when I invite them to get to know the church and the Lord Jesus better in some way, I'm continuing a tradition that has been going on for years. By God's grace, may it continue for many more.

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