Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Power of the Housegroup

Whenever we think of great events, we always picture great cathedrals in which kings are crowned, princes and princesses are married and the noble heroes are laid to their final rests in grand ceremonial. Treaties are signed in great places of meeting, tents of battle, fields and plains of note and worth. And souls are saved in the upper room of an inn in Jerusalem.

No, I know that's not a complete picture, but it was in that upper room that the whole mystery of the Incarnation was crystallised in the institution of the Eucharist. The Lord's ministry was spent mainly either out in the open with the large crowds or within houses. Look at the faith of the friends who dug through the roof of a house to lower in their bedridden friend. Such faith is rewarded by a miracle from the Lord. Quite what the owners of the house thought with a hole in their roof. Perhaps it didn't matter. Perhaps the miracle within their four walls was more than enough compensation for such a minor inconvenience.

For the Early Christians, the changing of lives and the redemption of souls happened in housegroups. Like-minded people thirsty for the Good News, longing to hear of the end of the influence of Sin, the World and the Devil, met in little houses huddled around the warmth of the promises of Christ while the winds of the Zeitgeist raged and bore away those who would rather reject the Eternal in favour of the Material.

It is not the Cathedral that is the Crucible for the Christian Faith. It is not the grand places where our Salvation is worked out, but in the everyday. We battle with everyday temptations, everyday sins and everyday demands on the choice between God and Not-God. Our dance with Eternity happens in our own homes, behind closed doors, in our real lives.

If we are truly sincere in our Christian Faith, then we will have a rule of life;we will say our prayers, and we will seek others with whom to share our faith. This is difficult in a world which prefers fragmentation than unity. Much ado is made about of "diversity of expression" among Christians and this has included diversity in doctrine to the extent that the integrity of the Christian Faith is not being preserved in the mainstream Churches.

As the Established Church is blown away by the Zeitgeist, we find ourselves in the same boat as the Early Christians. They survived in housegroups and catacombs, and perhaps now is the time that faithful Catholics must worship in the houses of other Catholics, or at least make more honest relationships and build social bridges on the small scale. A greater and deeper faith can develop in a meeting of Catholics praying together and discussing and searching for Christ in the living room than in the superficial faith of an all-singing all-dancing extravaganza that many Parishes have swapped for the established liturgy and doctrine of the Holy Church.

It is important, then, that those isolated by the movement away from orthodox Christianity find some commonality. If you're an orthodox Anglican then the Established Church is not exactly going to help you to find the fulfilment you crave. Because you're orthodox, you know that sitting back and letting your faith slide into oblivion is not an option, so what are you going to do?

Why not form a housegroup and just invite people in to study the Bible? Or why not arrange to meet up at another location ant pray Mattins or Evensong together. Once you've established yourself, why not look for a trustworthy priest to provide you with the Sacraments. There are folk out there who will help. Why not join an online forum and find like minded people in your area or find a Continuing Anglican Church with an outreach programme. Your faith is too big for Cathedrals and Palaces: it's almost big enough for an upper room, isn't it?

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