Rather an ambiguous title, that, but I'm not referring to the festivals of the Christian year, whose memory still lingers in some of our national days off work. (Can anyone else remember the half way house of Ascension Day as a child? We were expected to be in school, but were taken en masse to the nearest church for a service, and then had sticky cakes and orange squash instead of those dinky little bottles of milk at morning breaktime).
Rather, I've been inspired by Lilly, who was wondering why we're so fearful of allowing our faithful the odd Sunday off. I guess that the reality in the UK is that a high proportion of the congregation are notthere every week; certainly, in the rural benefice where we lived before my ordination, "regulars" were those who came to a particular service, even if that one only happened once a month. However, generally when people aren't with us on a Sunday, they aren't worshipping elsewhere, either, which is such a pity. There's a whole world out there, which its sad to miss out on...I wish I'd done a tad more visiting before going full-time, but at least I know something of what's on offer.
One of our recurring problems as we try to move things on in Charlton Kings, is that so many of the congregation have literally not worshipped anywhere else for a good 40 years. We can tell them that other places do things differently, but their mindset is such that they can't fully grasp that, and so believe that "the way we've always done things" is the only valid expression of church there is. We would love to take them for little outings to experience wider horizons in worship, but suspect there would be an outcry if there were no Parish Eucharist on even one Sunday. If we did arrange for a service while we went elsewhere, no prizes for guessing which members of the congregation would not be on the coach :-(