[image: (1) Sanctuary, Flannan's Cathedral, 2013; (2) Flannan's Cathedral, exterior view, 2013; (3) Chapel, Flannan's Cathedral, 2013)
John 4:22–23 (NKJV)
22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
St. Flannan's was built in 1225 as a Roman cathedral but today is owned by the National trust and is operated by the Protestant Church of Ireland. According to the web site it has an average Sunday attendance of about 35. How that breaks my heart.
It is beautiful on the inside though outside it is a bit plain, but it is host to a thousand years of burials and St. Molua's oratory, an exterior building dating back to the early 1000's and used as a private chapel at one point.
As I stood there in the silence of that sanctuary, the late afternoon sky giving soft grey light through the windows as the omnipresent rain clouds continued to shield the sun, the witness to a transcendent God, a God who deserves to be worshiped, was very heavy on me. It came through every framing glance I took through the view-finder. And then, in one of those moments where the hairs on the back of your neck began to prickle, I heard the clear, vibrant words of "Amazing Grace" being sung with intensity in a very nearly perfect baritone acapella solo.
The sounds were coming from my right, through a small, ancient door right near the back of the present sanctuary and about half-way back in the original. I took my camera on its tripod through the door and there was an American family, the husband, his wife and her friend and his mother. The ladies were all seated and the man was singing from memory and the magnificent acoustics of the little chapel gathered and amplified the effect to a wondrous degree. With very little pause, he shifted into "The Lord's Prayer" and in the swelling crescendo of it's finale, as the magnificent promise and fact of "... forThine is the Kingdom.... and the Power... and the Glory.... FOREVER!" bounced off those walls.. the eternal purposes of God and the true intention of His Church was fulfilled, once again, for at least the moment. God was being rightfully praised in the place that He had raised up for that praise to be offered. 35 may attend that building on a given Sunday.... but worship was offered on late Thursday afternoon, by an even smaller group... and a thousand year old building was vindicated.
There is not much more to be said. I found out that the brother held a Master's degree in vocal music from (if I remember correctly) the University of Arizona though he was not now working as a professional musician. They were non-denominational although the mother praised God when she heard that I was a PCA pastor and not one of those "other" kind. But those things are only incidental to the experience. It was the reality of the living God being experienced and manifested in the praise and worship of His people that gave the moment its transcendence. It was the ever necessary reminder that worship is not first and foremost about having our ears tickled with some new thought... or about having our energy spiked by the rolling thunder of a rocking praise band.... or about the manipulation of human emotions in some predictable, formulaic fashion. Worship is about the living God and how He inhabits the praise of His people... as they, from a true heart bow before His holiness and with purified lips cleansed with the hot coals taken from God's own altar, testify to His superlative Being as it has been most fully revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ.
One or two together, or 35 (maybe) on a given Sunday, or 150, or 2000... it ultimately doesn't matter about the numbers. What counts is Him... His Person... His Presence.... His Spirit.
And where He is... there is worship.
May God greet you in His sanctuary this day... and may you worship, in Spirit and in Truth... through the mediating work of our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.... for His is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory... Forever! Amen and Amen.