Monday, January 25, 2016
This post is an expanded version of the little devotion I put in our weekly email for the youth this week.
I stumbled upon this cartoon last weekand had to laugh a bit at the thought of loyalty cards for attending church, especially the rewards offered for this particular church. (Dave Walker, the cartoonist, is from the UK, hence the tour of Lamberth Palace with tea as an option of a reward.)
Unlike school or work, attending church is an option. (Ok, ok, I can hear some grumbling from youth saying parents make them attend church! I know my parents had that requirement!) But still, for the most part, you make a decision every Sunday morning or Wednesday night to get in the car and drive to be at church.
Gathering with other Christians is a part of our being the body of Christ. We know we are made better and stronger in our faith by gathering to read scripture and hear the Word proclaimed. We learn from one another and see a variety of gifts of the body put to use during worship, from the music of the choir, the amazing people who come in super early to turn on lights and unlock doors, to the folks who make sure we have hot coffee or some sort of nourishment during Sunday School. Our souls are encouraged by the fellowship we have with one another, sharing stories, praying for one another, or even just laughing at jokes.
Something sacred happens when the children of God gather together and pray. Something holy happens when we break bread together and share with one another. And as far as I know, we don't do it for points to redeem towards some sort of reward, or even for the hot coffee. And we know there are those "frequent flyer" members of our church - the ones who can be here in under 5 minutes, the ones who seem like they are always here, not because they have to, but because they're willing to be here. I live in awe of these members - it's my job to be here at the church often, and sometimes I feel like these members log more hours than I do! (Totally joking...I might have them beat if we include lock-ins and the likes...)
We gather together because we know where two or more are gathered, God is glorified. We gather together because we know that we honor God in our worship, study, and fellowship. And I hope too, we gather together because it's a bit fun, and enjoyable to see our friends we don't see on a daily basis.
This past Sunday the preaching text was 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, on the body of Christ needing all parts to be a healthy, functioning body. If not all the parts show up, we can't do the work that God calls us to do. I mean, we could try (and we probably do try), but we don't do it to the best of our ability.
I'm one of those types of people who often needs to be reminded to ask for help, and I stubbornly try to do everything on my own. It's a struggle for me to reach outside myself and ask others to share their gifts with me, even though I am more than willing to share my gifts with them. But something I have quickly realized in these first months of ministry is that there are people who make up the body of Christ who do things MUCH BETTER than I do. And they like to do these things. By sharing the work load, sharing our gifts and talents, and doing what we feel God has called us to do - we do ministry better. We love God's church and God's people better. And, we tend to not feel over stressed or over worked or overwhelmed.
So, we keep sharing. We keep gathering together. We keep making the decision to get in our cars and drive to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. We keep loving our neighbor as our self. And we don't get any discounts or coupons to use at the next church function, or even a reserved pew.
But we do get a chance to be changed by God's love, a chance to be challenged by God's Word, and a chance to respond to God's grace.
As I always say in Children's Moments, I think that is good news.