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Reflections on Worship at Hexham Abbey Church

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Jolynn and I worshipped at Hexham Abbey Church.  With people of good will around the world, we joined in lifting up the people and nation of Norway in our prayers.  Together we looked to God’s love and grace through our Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Hexham Abbey was founded by Wilfrid (Bishop of York), one of the great pioneers of Christianity in northern England in 674 A.D.  Among its historic great is included St. Cuthbert.  We soaked in the history and drank from the well of a deep piety on our Friday afternoon visit.  This brought us back for worship on Sunday. Our Sunday worship encountered a moderately alive congregation with about 125 people present.  We were greeted with a friendly welcome.  The worship service was classic Anglican with modern phrasing.  Most active Methodists from Central Texas would have found the liturgy very familiar. What was missing was any real attempt to help a non-Christian understand what was taking place in worship.  The service wasn’t visitor friendly or unfriendly.  It was visitor indifferent.  What leaves me intrigued is the contrast between a clergy who obviously understand that the day of Christendom is over and yet demonstrate no engagement with that knowledge.  They were genuinely welcoming and yet appeared to be without insight into the contradiction between the worship they were leading and the assumption that those attending were already committed, practicing Christians.  They may know they live in a modern mission field that is overwhelmingly non-Christian, but this reality has not yet brought about any real change in worship, how the gospel is shared, or their behavior. What pains is me is how descriptive this is of many churches, including those in the Central Texas Conference!