Friday, April 14, 2006

Holy Week services

Our church's Holy Week services end tonight. Today is Good Friday.
Last night was Maundy Thursday. The term is used in connection with Jesus washing the disciples' feet and shares the same word root as "mandate" according to "Webster's New World College Dictionary" 4th edition.
At our church, for many years now, we have a candlelight communiion service at the end of our revival meeting. Before the meeting starts, we gather to recreate the Last Supper, partaking of tradition foods, such as roast lamb and bitter herbs while a tape plays the voice of an unidentfied man reading scripture. He pauses for a long time between verses and then, after an appropriate amount of time to complete supper, he says, "They sang a hymn and went out."
Our church attendance is dwindling. We have a week-long revival leading up to Easter, but the crowds cannot be called "crowds" any more.
The Maundy Thursday tape is getting old and there is a lot of static in the silent passages.
Our church is reminding me more and more of the last Christmases we enjoyed at my parents' home, before Dad died and Mom's cancer caused her to spend her remaining years in a nearby nursing home.
Mom's Christmas lights burned out one by one and the large bulbs were hard to replace. She had three red bell decorations she hung in the same window each year.. The bulbs flashed, making it look like a bell ringing - until two of them came on at the same time, destroying the illusion of motion.
The few people who attend our church service are fighting the good fight against all odds. There is little hope of evangelism. If you look at an Indiana road map, you can't get there from here -- according to the map there are no roads that go through that village.
Of course, you can get there, but you have to follow the signs and deny the urge to turn back, even though it seems you will end up in a cow pasture at the end of the lane.
I remember when revivals would fill our church.
Of course I had a greater commitment back then. I was in college and would forego trips to Florida with my schoolmates over spring break and even take time off my part-time job to spend the week visiting prospective members and getting to know established members better.
Our church would bring in a minister from the college I attended or the minister from my home church, who knew more about evangelism than I.
But, back then, it seems, many more churches had enthusiastic spring revivals than they do today.
The churches also had Vacation Bible Schools that last two weeks.
All this causes me to wonder what will happen to the church in the next 30 years.
Yesterday, Mr. Moussaoui, was on the stand in his own "defense." He told Americans, "We want to be a superpower. You have the power and we want it."
Will Islam become the popular relgion Christianity was in the 1950s?
Will Christ find faith on the earth when he returns or will people wonder who He is and ask, "What are you doing here?"
Just something to think about this Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter.