I CANNOT agree with David D’Arcy’s view (CL 14/9/03) that the communal worship of the Lord on Sunday has no real precedence over worshipping God on any other day of the week.
There is no doubt that we can pray and worship God at any time, yet as human beings, we need stories and symbols to help us to express the meaning of what we value.
All the more so as Christians, do we need symbolic times and patterns to help express the mystery of our faith.
Sunday came to be known as ‘the Lord’s day’ from the earliest Christian times and has always been held in high regard by Christians as representative of that defining moment of our salvation – Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
St Augustine called Sunday a ‘sacrament of Easter’ because it calls us to remember in the fullest way the true centre of our faith – Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
Mr D’Arcy is right in acknowledging the many practicalities of our modern, busy lives. But we tread a dangerous path when we begin to subordinate our liturgical practice to the pattern of the rest of life. Liturgical worship is not about mirroring or catering to the rest of our lives – it is the other way around.
Liturgy informs our daily lives and is the pattern for how we want to live. When we abandon our liturgical symbols (such as the symbol of Sunday) to make room for other things, then our liturgy loses its power to transform us according to our faith in Christ.
Perhaps we need to look to the first Christians for inspiration in keeping the Lord’s day holy. They lived in a time when Sunday was not a holiday and many were even tortured and killed for celebrating the ‘breaking of bread’ on this day. It was by no means less difficult for them than for us today!
Since they had to work on Sunday, they were forced to rise before dawn to gather, share the story of God’s action in Christ, and share the Eucharist.
Yet there was no question of not doing so. Sunday worship was an integral part of their faith and was the pattern that informed the rest of their lives.
Ultimately, our Sunday obligation is not about ‘sticking to the old rules of the past’, but about the value of symbol and the refusal to allow liturgy to play servile slave to the whims of society.
If Sunday worship presents difficulties, let it be all the more a sign of our commitment to remember and celebrate that first day of the week when, very early in the morning, the women went to the tomb and found it empty.
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