The church: It’s the people inside the building

I say this as humbly as I can, I’m a person of faith, but I’m not about to write a sermon, so please keep reading. Rather, I’m about to share some thoughts on the value of congregating once per week with like-minded individuals. For the past thirty-two years, I’ve been a dedicated attendee of a local church. Many, who might read this piece, will know the name and location of this church. For reasons that probably aren’t very clear, even to me, I won’t mention the name of that church. One reason, I can share is that I’m not writing about a denominational experience, but rather a social and cultural interaction.

I was raised in a family that views belief in God as critical to their very existence. There wasn’t always spiritual fidelity, but belief in God (the Judeo-Christian God) was real. As I grew older and moved off to college, I grew away from this foundation that was laid in my formative years. I had no scriptural understanding of the God I was exposed to early in life. In retrospect, I can now see how exposure to college life, and the academic exercises it provided easily steered me away from my family’s beliefs. Let me stop here, because I already said I’m not about to write a sermon.

Unless I’m sick beyond my ability to move, I’m in church each Sunday. Over the last three decades, I’ve come to do this because of several reasons, habit not one of them. As I sit in the same pew each week, I experience a feeling I cannot any place else. There is a sense that I’m sitting among a group of people who are there for the same reason I am. Common sense tells me this isn’t the case, but that doesn’t diminish my sense of uniformity at all. All the prayers, the singing of hymns, the standing and sitting work together to form one experience that feeds me with a strong sense of comfort.

Over the years, my church has undergone many of the same kinds of changes churches everywhere experience. We’ve had schisms, changes in leadership, people coming and going, for whatever reason. I’ve had no reason strong enough, no matter what has occurred, that has caused me to leave. I’ve always felt strongly that people are people no matter where I go. There is no greener grass compared to where I am. I’ve always been able to connect with a core group of people who feel the same as I. That gives me comfort and a sense of belonging. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Isn’t that what Christ prayed for shortly before He went to the cross? I’ll stop here, since I feel a sermon coming on.

One thing is certain, if I miss attending church at least once per week, I feel incomplete. There have been times when finding the physical strength to dress on a Sunday morning seems an impossible challenge; however, after I’ve sat in church for a few minutes I’m rejuvenated. This is especially the case after I’ve sat through my small and intimate Sunday school class. Interacting with this group is like having a weekly family reunion. There is nothing said or done in this class which is contrary to my well-being.

The gathering of people for a good purpose is a core motivation for me attending church. Church is certainly more than that; however, even the least of reasons to gather is a valuable weekly experience. Sharing my flawed self with a group of other flawed people, seeking wholeness. You can’t get any better than that. If I’m able, I’ll continue to attend church. The spiritual by-product, current and eternal can’t be denied; however, focusing on that merits a sermon.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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