You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the day coming.
For the last three months, Rick and I have a conversation every Saturday night. It goes something like this. Me: “Where do you want to go to church tomorrow?” Rick: “Some place where church starts no earlier than 10 AM.”
This is not Rick’s response every week; just the first few weeks. For the first time ever for Rick and 20+ years for me, we do not always know where we are going to worship on Sunday. We have attended a variety of churches: different denominations, worship styles, locations, etc. About six weeks ago, I discovered during worship that I missed being part of the same congregation. I miss seeing the same folks every week, knowing how worship will flow and the support of the same congregation members.
The places we have visited have been friendly. We see friendly and familiar faces. It’s just different. I do get to sit by Rick every week! But if completely honest, a little something is missing right now.
This experience has re-enforced my belief in the necessity for Christians to be part of a regular faith community. Those who believe in God really need a place to call “home”: a place where they are missed when not present; a place where fellow Christians support and encourage them; a place people can be vulnerable and grow.
People have shared with me various reasons they do not feel it is necessary to be part of a regular church family. Some reasons maybe valid. But I wonder what these people do when in crisis. Where do they turn? Do they have other Christians to celebrate the high points of life? For all of those days in-between, who helps keep them inspired to grow spiritually?
Ponder these questions. The early Christians were warned not to be lone rangers: to maintain their spiritual lives alone. With modern technology, the ability to worship on-line and connect with like-minded folks without all the challenges that can be part of a faith community, it is enticing to be a lone ranger. Please don’t. Spiritual faith is best done in community.
A woman was not happy with her church and stopped worshiping. An elderly man asked about this. The woman reeled off a bunch of reasons, concluding she did not feel the church was meeting her needs. The elderly man thought for a moment. Then he said, “I have been married to my wife for 52 years. Most days, she has prepared three meals a day for me, about 56,000 meals. Most of these meals I do not remember. I can say she has lovingly fed me for 52 years. Some meals were good. Some were not very good. But she always fed me. For this, I am very grateful.”
Almighty God: thank you for creating safe places for us to explore and grow our faith. You are very much aware of the times the church has let us down. Somehow, we focus more on this than the times we have let-down the church by not being present and withholding our gifts, talents, witness and service. Place in my heart a deep desire to be part of a regular faith community so I can grow spiritually as well as serve you. Amen.
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