The Bookend

First of all you have to understand that the church has always been part of my life. Not just a part but one of the most significant parts of it. It is family. Blood is thicker than water but this bond is thicker. So going to church has always been my habit. Not that the church is a place, it is people, but people come together in a place and unless you are a king or celebrity, people don’t generally congregate around you. You have to go to them.  So the term “Going to church” is a valid one and a vital part of life for anyone who is a follower of Jesus. Like family, however, it is not always sweetness and light, its history has not always been something to be proud of, its people sometimes drive you crazy and at times you stretch their patience too. We blow up, fall out, walk out and separate but one thing remains a constant, we are part of God’s family and he won’t change that. It is not a right but a gift and if I was a preacher I could probably explain that much better.

Now the church, which I belong to, has two services on a Sunday: a morning and evening service. This is not for convenience but deliberately as part of tradition going back many years. Nowadays, however, the question keeps coming up: “Why two?”  “Why would you need to want to go twice?” “Surely once is enough”. But it is not a rule thing. It is not a commandment. You would be hard pressed to find something in the Bible that lays down that law. But it comes, I believe, from how we view the day itself.  For followers of Jesus, Sunday is the “Lord’s Day”. It belongs to him. It is not our day. In one sense every day is His day but Sunday is especially for him and that is where the evening service comes into its own. It is a bookend. The morning and evening services are bookends to the Lord’s Day.

This Sunday, after a full on weekend wholly exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally with the stress of logistics, the heat of the kitchen, the intercourse with so many people from so many parts of the world (a weekend away with Friends International), we arrived back in the evening just in time for our evening service. While the voice of common sense said, “relax, unwind, sit down, have a bath, go to bed, chill out”, instead we went to church and joined our church family in worship, praying, reading, sharing and listening to God’s voice. Entering the building late we were met with the sound of singing, of many voices old and young, high and deep, together and in harmony, coming from the heart, rising to the roof and beyond.  It would be very hard to begin to describe the all-embracing sense of wholeness, healing, invigoration, revitalisation and excitement that overwhelmed us as we joined the people in this special time, this bookend to the Lord’s Day.  And …I thought… there is nowhere else I would rather be.

Crawford Mackenzie

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