Moses found himself at Mt. Sinai. The Lord gave him a daunting mission. Lead my people out of Egypt!
Moses did not believe himself to be capable of executing this task. That troubled him.
But Moses did not have to trouble himself on another subject. The Lord made the answer to one important question perfectly clear.
Moses did not have to ask the Lord, “Lord, why should I lead Your people out of Egypt? I mean, sure, our life in Egypt involves bitter slavery. But if we march away, things will probably get even harder. We will leave behind the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks. Sure, we don’t have a whole lot of material resources these days. But if we march out, we will have even fewer.”
In these or similar words, Moses could have found himself asking the Lord, “Lord, why do this?” –if the Lord had left him in any doubt on that subject.
But the Lord left Moses in no doubt whatsoever as to why the Hebrews should march out of Egypt. The how was murky and daunting. But the why was clear. You will march out of Egypt and worship me here on this very mountain, saith the Lord.
I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You have hidden the great mystery from the wise and the learned, and revealed it to the merest children. (Matthew 11:25)
Why should a parish church have four walls? Why should we heat and cool the building? We don’t show movies. At least not usually. We don’t peddle entertainment of any kind, really. Why pay the water bills, and gas and electric? Why keep the parking lot lined and paved? It’s no Wal-Mart. No merchandise lines the shelves. And no one teaches get-rich-quick-schemes, or yoga classes, or health-food diets.
In other words, we can’t find an earthly reason for all the fuss and bother over keeping a parish church going. Experts of all kinds could certainly teach us more efficient ways to run a community center, or a food pantry for the poor, or a support group.
But we keep the doors open and the lights on for one fundamental reason: Because we worship the Lord here. In Franklin County, Va.,* the good Lord made Scuffling Hill into the local Mount Sinai. This is where we are to worship God Almighty.
And when we do that, everything else falls into place. We who worship the living God can actually teach the “experts” a few things about coming together as a loving community, or about helping each other and the poor; we could teach the support-group facilitators a few things about supporting each other through thick and thin.
Because we do this: We do the most beautiful, most wonderful, most intimate thing that people can do together: We worship the one true God in the manner in which He Himself has directed us to worship Him.
The merest children know that everything begins with worshiping God. God is first. Everything comes from Him; everything is for Him. We worship Him; we worship Him alone; we do not worship anything else.
We do not worship money. We worship God; and God provides us with the money we need.
We do not worship each other. We worship God, and He gives us each other as brothers and sisters.
God first. The merest children know to put God first. When God comes first, everything else follows, just as it is meant to.
2 thoughts on “No Leeks and Melons. But Worship.”
Amen, Father Mark!
Simple guys don’t have to ask; their gut tells them to do that at which their brain would rebel.
Keeping the Church open is one matter. Heating & cooling it is another. St. Augustine answered the question, “Why a physical Church?” in the same way that St. Paul answered the questions, “Why isn’t everyone imbued with the same gifts?” and “How could anything so diverse long endure?” Neither of them “answered” the question of heating and cooling; both, and especially Paul, demonstrated that luxury is not a necessity.
We go from place to place one step at a time. Who knows where we will be in ten years; but my take is that the Church Mendicant had best come to the fore if we are to survive (i.e., save our mortal souls). Yes, we shall bring them in rejoicing, and hoping that the massed bodies will heat us in Winter, and the sweet sweat cool us in the Summer.
In God we trust.