Congregation Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 49 quotes )
There's a trick to being whatever you want to be in life. It starts with the simple belief that you are what or who you say you are. It starts, like all faiths, with a belief-a belief predicated more on whimsy than reality. And you've gotta believe for everybody else, too-until you can show them proof. If you're lucky, someone starts believing with you-first theoretically, then in practice. And two people believing are the start of a congregation. You build a congregation of believers and eventually you set out to craft a cathedral. Sometimes it's just a church; sometimes it turns out to be a chapel. Folks who don't build churches will try to tell you how you're doing it wrong, even as your steeple breaks the clouds. Never listen.
I do not like a high-organized church. I think that as soon as the congregation reaches a level of one hundred or so people, it is time to build a new church. As soon as the congregation gets to the point where you are not on fairly intimate terms with every other person in that church, then you have become a theater where people can attend services. I do not think you can attend a church service. Service is not something which is there to be viewed as if it were a play or a movie.
The boarded-up homes, the decaying storefronts, the aging church rolls, kids from unknown families who swaggered down the streets - loud congregations of teenage boys, teenage girls feeding potato chips to crying toddlers, the discarded wrappers tumbling down the block - all of it whispered painful truths.
There were umpires everywhere, men who said who was winning or losing the theoretical battle, who was alive adn who was dead. The umpire had comical news. The congregation had been theoretically spotted from the air by a theoretical enemy. They were all theoretically dead now. The theoretical corpses laughed and ate a hearty noontime meal. Remembering this incident years later, Billy was struck by what a Tralfamadorian adventure with death that had been, to be dead and to eat at the same time.
I have a hundred-year-old aunt who aspires to sainthood, and whose only wish has been to go into the convent, but no congregation, not even the Little Sisters of Charity, could tolerate her for more than a few weeks, so the family has had to look after her. Believe me, there is nothing so insufferable as a saint, I wouldn't sic one on my worst enemy.
A suburban pastor maintained services appropriate for his respected, professional parish. His father, an excitable traveling evangelist, visited and challenged the congregation to confront pride and sing out loudly with the windows open. The next day, the pastor’s banker mentioned overhearing, and he was sheepish. The buttoned-up banker said, though, that the neighborhood had been WAITING TO HEAR the church live out the joy they claimed.
If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell. . . a Greek Orthodox mass I once attended. . . seemed to [have] no prescribed behaviour for the congregation. . . the beauty was that nobody took notice of what anyone else was doing.
It had grown cold in the night but he was numb with other weathers. An equinox in the heart, ill change, unluck. Suttree held his face in his hands. Child of darkness and familiar of small dooms. He himself used to wake in terror to find whole congregations of the uninvited attending his bed, protean figures slouched among the room's dark corners in all multiplicity of shapes, gibbons and gargoyles, arachnoids of outrageous size, a batshaped creature hung by some cunning in a high corner from whence clicked and winked like bone chimes its incandescent teeth.
All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated....As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
The spiritual differs from the religious in being able to endure isolation. The rank of a spiritual person is proportionate to his strength for enduring isolation, whereas we religious people are constantly in need of ‘the others,’ the herd. We religious folks die, or despair, if we are not reassured by being in the assembly, of the same opinion as the congregation, and so on. But the Christianity of the New Testament is precisely related to the isolation of the spiritual man.
The peculiar idea that bigger is better has been around for at least as long as I have, and it's always bothered me. There is within it the implication that it is more difficult for God to care about a gnat than about a galaxy. Creation is just as visible in a grain of sand as in a skyful of stars. The church is not immune from the bigger-is-better heresy. One woman told of going to a meeting where only a handful of people turned out, and these faithful few were scolded by the visiting preacher for the sparseness of the congregation. And she said indignantly, 'Our Lord said *feed* my sheep, not count them!' I often feel that I'm being counted, rather than fed, and so I am hungry.
Hell had become, over the years, a wearisome speculation. Even its proselytizers have neglected it, abandoning the poor, but serviceable, human allusion which the ecclesiastic fires of the Holy Office once had in this world: a temporal torment, of course, but one that was not unworthy, within its terrestrial limitations, of being a metaphor for the immortal, for the perfect pain without destruction that the objects of divine wrath will forever endure. Whether or not this hypothesis is satisfactoy, an increasing lassitude in the propaganda of the institution is indisputable. (Do not be alarmed; I use propaganda here not in its commercial but rather in its Catholic genealogy: a congregation of cardinals.)
Not one of the orthodox ministers dare preach what he thinks if he knows a majority of his congregation think otherwise. He knows that every member of his church stands guard over his brain with a creed, like a club, in his hand. He knows that he is not expected to search after the truth, but that he is employed to defend the creed. Every pulpit is a pillory, in which stands a hired culprit, defending the justice of his own imprisonment.
We can't stand it, to be alone. We cannot bear it, any more than the monks of old could bear it, men who though they had renounced all else for Christ's sake, nevertheless came together in congregations to be with one another, even as they enforced upon themselves the harsh rules of single solitary cells and unbroken silence. They couldn't bear to be alone. We are too much men and women; we are yet formed in the image of the Creater, and what can we say of Him with any certainty except that He, whoever He may be--Christ, Yahweh, Allah--He made us, did He not, because even He in His Infinite Perfection could not bear to be alone.
If the wedding was wanted at Melrose—and Buccleuch, as Hereditary Bailie of the Abbey lands, had fewer objections than usual to any idea not his own—then the congregation had to come armed, that was all. The Scotts and their allies, the twenty polite Frenchmen from Edinburgh, the Italian commander with the lame leg, had left their men at arms outside with their horses, the plumed helmets lashed to the saddlebows; and if there were a few vacant seats where a man from Hawick or Bedrule had ducked too late ten days before, no one mentioned it.
What remains of the old Protestant fundamentalism is politics: abortion, gays, evolution. these issues are what binds congregations together. but even here things have changed as Americans have become more tolerant of many of these social taboos. Today many fundamentalist churches take nominally tough positions on, say, homosexuality but increasingly do little else for fear of offending the average believer, whom one schollar calls the "unchurched Harry". All it really takes to be a fundamentalist these days is to watch the TV shows, go to the theme parks, buy Christian rock, and vote Republican. The Sociologist Mark Shilbey, calls it the Californication of conservative Protestantism.
I have of late--butwherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone allcustom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavilywith my disposition that this goodly frame, theearth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this mostexcellent canopy, the air, look you, this braveo'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof frettedwith golden fire, why, it appears no other thing tome than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark’s, they were everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder or pecking a broken biscuit from between my lips; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning.
Unk shook his head vaguely. He could think of no apt condensation of his adventures for the obviously ritual mood. Something great was plainly expected of him. He was not up to greatness. He exhaled noisily, letting the congregation know that he was sorry to fail them with his colorlessness. ‘I was a victim of a series of accidents,’ he said. He shrugged. ‘As are we all,’ he said. The cheering and dancing began again.