Lesson 39: A and The

The holy Catholick Church. (Nowadays the k is left out.)

It was about two in the morning when the bomb fell on St. Mary’s Church, Haggerston. A great black column of smoke and dust rose into the moonlit sky; windows in St. Augustine’s clergy house, half a mile away, were broken. I went to see if any one had been hurt. Nobody had; but the church was just a grey heap of ruins. Overhead Hitler’s aeroplanes droned on. Bombs fell. A barrage-balloon caught fire and drifted slowly away.

A church is a building (“church” means “something belonging to God,” “God’s House”). It can be destroyed. THE church is the society of god’s people (a school means the boys and girls in it, as well as the building in which they learn lessons). It can never be destroyed (St. Matthew 16, 18).

The Church is God’s Kingdom (St. John 18, 36). Our Lord is the king. All who have been baptised are his subjects. In The Church on earth we learn the rules of the kingdom (Ephesians 4, 11 and 12), and receive grace and the sacraments to keep them. But God’s Kingdom is not only on earth (42 and 43).

The Church’s birthday is Whit Sunday (“White Sunday,” because it used to be the principal Baptism Day), or the Feast of Pentecost. On the first Whit Sunday there were only a hundred and twenty Christians in the world. Then came God the Holy Ghost. As he made the first man a living soul (Genesis 2, 7), so he made The Church a living and growing society. At the end of the first Whit Sunday there were more than three thousand Christians (Acts 2 tells you all about it). God the Holy Ghost is The Church’s life and light to-day; and always will be, so long as there are days.