Lesson 355: "'Neath the spreading chestnut tree"

One Sunday morning a family (not, I am sure, a Haggerston one) was walking home from church. “Well!”, said father; “that’s the last time I shall go there. Never heard such a rotten sermon in my life!” “Yes!”, said mother; “and the vicar did not speak to me after the service. I shan’t go there again either.” “Nor shall I,” remarked Elspeth Ermyntrude the elder daughter, who had a musical temperament (if you don’t know what this means you’re lucky); “the singing was simply appalling.” “I don’t mind so much about all that,” answered Angela Annabella her sister; “but I do draw the line at having to sit in such uncomfortable seats.” “As a matter of fact,” replied young Montague Marmaduke her schoolboy-brother; “I thought the whole service was rather a good show for a penny.”

As well as being snobs (except Monty) this very superior family (as you may have guessed from their names) did not know the first thing about worship (including Monty). For we do not go to church to get, but to give. Sermons, music, High Mass, incense, banners, a clean, warm church (which ours in Haggerston during war-winters certainly is not), are good things; but they are not the chief reasons for going to church. In church we say our prayers; but that is not the first reason for which we go there. To worship is to give, not to get. As our Lord said, though he was not only speaking about worship {Acts 20, 35).

There are two kinds of worship, public and private. The first means “with other people,” such as in church. The second means “alone,” in our private prayers at home or elsewhere ; about which I will tell you later. Both are your and my “duties,” “debts we owe to God.” In your churchgoing try to remember that you are there principally to give to God your presence and praise, your honour and glory, your thanksgiving, your love; because he is God, and because to worship him is die highest thing for which he made you and that you can ever do {Psalm 95, 6), either in this world or in heaven.

Give to God; worship him as well as you can. You will get much; for God too knows how to give {St. Luke 6, 38).