Sunday, September 04, 2011

What Church Is All About

This article has gone viral and I think sums up what church should be all about: the communion of the saints.  The writer goes after the person that likes to say they are "spiritual but not religious." Here's a snippet:

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn't interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.

Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community?  Because when this flight gets choppy, that's who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.

I think one of the million or so things I've learned in during my time at First Christian is that church is about this wonderful and odd collection of people who come together weekly and share their concerns and insights with each other.  I've seen true community happen.  I see 90 year old women make a prayer shawl for someone they thought needed prayer and a warm blanket.  I've seen men and women welcome a first time visitor and treat them like family.  I've seen the women of the congregation come and celebrate the arrival of a newborn even though the mother (and father) aren't members and they don't know the couple super well.

Maybe it's cool to talk about how you can find God in sunsets (I can find God there too, so you ain't special, sunshine), but the church is one of the last places were we can be a true community and it's the only place where we can learn about God from the lives of others.

The church isn't perfect, but I don't know what is.  But I do know that every faith community is a wonderful jewel filled with people trying to learn to be Christ to each other.  That's truly interesting and inspiring.

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