Nov 2015 23

 

PeopleCrossOn the way to church last Sunday, I saw that a friend of mine had checked in on Facebook at a Buddhist temple near her home. She had not shared a status remark, only choosing an icon that indicated she was “feeling peaceful”.

This person was not raised Buddhist. In fact, she was raised in a Christian culture but had left religion some time ago. I wondered… was she looking for God again and just happened to end up in that temple? Or did she intentionally go there seeking the peace about which she posted?  I looked forward to our visit next month so we could talk about it over a meal.

But I couldn’t get it out of my mind as I pulled in to the parking lot of my own beloved place of worship.

I arrived a little late. The music had already started as I settled in to my seat and soon, the pastor began to speak. He’s an excellent teacher and normally, I don’t want to miss a word, a nuance, a pearl.

But I was distracted as I thought again about my friend who was sitting in that Buddhist temple at precisely that same moment. I wanted to understand how our experiences might be similar or how they might be different.  I started asking myself why do I go to church on Sunday mornings? Was I there, like my friend, to feel peaceful? or was there something else?

(As an aside, while peace is often found at church, sometimes it just isn’t because well, there are people there. If feeling peaceful is the main reason I go, perhaps I could spare myself the effort and just go chill on the bluff over the ocean near my house by myself. Now THAT would be peaceful.  A friend of mine once joked “church would be so great if it weren’t for all those people”.  While we might laugh at that, if we were totally honest, we might agree. People at church sometimes just bug! Sometimes they might even snub us.  And those in leadership might even fail us.  We can get hurt and jaded and as a result, we might stop going.  I’ve sure had my share of experiences along these lines and understand the initial emotions. But I digress.)

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SO… why DO I go to church?

I know I don’t go because I think I have to or because it suddenly makes me more spiritual or because I believe it is the only place where God is found. I don’t go because I think I’m better than you; in fact, I go to church because I’m a mess, because I can sometimes lose my way and forget who I am.

I go to listen to a guy I trust share from the Bible about Christ’s character and His plan and how I get to participate in it despite how flawed I am.

I go because I need community.  My grandfather used to say “if you want to become a better tennis player, than play with someone who is better than you.” I need to regularly sharpen and deepen my faith by regularly rubbing up against others who live in the way I claim to believe because frankly, sometimes my blade just gets dull.

I go to church to expose myself to even more opportunities to serve. To serve when it doesn’t fit into the schedule or when it’s unglamorous or when it’s awkward or when it costs something is service like none other. I can get pretty insular which can sometimes lead to depression and when I give or serve, I swear, it snaps me right out of it. I can serve in many places in my city and I can send a check to an NGO I trust, but to serve where you will see those people again and again… well, it’s like a shot of Vitamin B.

I go to be reminded that I’m a daughter of royalty and don’t need to be afraid of terrorism or any other earthly insecurity.

But mostly, I go to church because I’m grateful.  I can’t explain to you, but even after all these years, the idea that God would still want to hang out with broken and flawed me still surprises me.  So I go.

I go to join my spiritual family in showing appreciation for, honor and reverence and homage to Jesus… the One I love, trust, and to Whom I owe my life.

And oh yeah… we SING!

 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:16

29 Comments

  1. Anne Rideout says:

    I don’t know how I came on this. I love trying out things on my iPad and found this. What is church? It is the physical and spiritual body of Jesus Christ. He lives in us and we live in Him. The church is my mother, father, sister, brother, children, grandchildren and on an on. We are all there because we are family and families gather on Sunday’s to be together, to check on each other and to be encouraged and loved by each other. Take my church from me and you have taken everything and my very support system.

  2. Sue Turner says:

    Sylvia, you are so smart! I was raised Catholic and we were ‘trained’ to go to church. Unless sick or out of town, we went to church. It was a chore and I didn’t want to do it. God has met me in CEBC and I go to be with Him and see what he has for me, and what I can do for Him.

    This mess will see your messy self there soon!

  3. I am happy to be included in this discussion as this is good stuff. I hope you are getting lots of love and encouragement from folks in your church. I’m certain they are getting lots from you. Where else can you hear the word of God on a consistent basis?

  4. Maureen O'Connor says:

    Sylvia; you wrote what my spirit mirrors . I love going to church & you put that love into words; brought it to light; reinforced community & reinforced purpose .. I hope you’re always there with me with the same spirit!

  5. Amy Hunt Mayer says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this and I read it. :)
    Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who feels that way.

  6. Heather says:

    Hebrews 10:25…. As usual, God expresses his ❤️ through your writing talents! Grateful for you this season and always! We will be together until Jesus takes us home.

  7. Kenny Dodd says:

    Great thoughts well-expressed. Thank you Sylvia!!

  8. Connie Karman says:

    Thanks for writing about this topic! It’s important. I’ve asked myself many times, “Why do I go to church and why do I continue to attend the church that has so deeply hurt me and continues to frustrate me?” The answer has come back so plain and clear many times, but clearest has been when I felt God prompt me with, “Do you still love your family, the people who have hurt you the deepest? Have you walked away from them? Do they frustrate you? Are you planning to give up on them?” And then I sensed that God told me, “You are free to give up on them. They have been very hard on you, but ‘I’ will NEVER give up! They are my children.”

    The church is my family just as my biological family is my family. And I need both. Beyond needing family I am called to worship God in community, which I love doing! However, there are days, honestly, I don’t want either one of these, but I can’t allow myself to base my life on feelings, because my feelings are very deceptive. The truth is, if I show up, God is always there to meet me ~ His faithfulness far outweighs mine!

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Wow, a lot said there. It is true, that we have to develop the ability to see Christ, no matter what people around us might do that hurts as we continue to develop the “mind of Christ”. Thank you for reading and hopefully sharing this blog!

  9. Alicia says:

    I have avoided organized religion like the plague for a long time now. I have to say that never have I ever heard a Christian churchgoing person express themselves like this.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thank you for taking the time to leave that comment Alicia. I hope you will sign up to receive future blogs as I’d love to hear from you.

  10. Shelly Anderson says:

    Nice. I think that God’s church is supposed to be exactly what you wrote. A place for folks who truly want to know God, to learn about God in a place that worships God and speaks truth about God with a group of people who know that they are nothing without God but everything with Him, created by Him for relationship with Him and redeemed by Him alone. Such love. It knows no limits. To rest in that while sitting with my beloved, crazy, wonderful church family is all I need. Ever.

  11. joyce tate says:

    WHY DO I GO TO CHURCH?HMMM;I GO TO CHURCH TO WORSHIP GOD;NOW IKNOW GOD IS EVERY WHERE,AND I CAN WORSHIP HIM EVERY WHERE,BUT I GO TO CHURCH TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD,TO TELL HIM I LOVE HIM,TO THANK HIM FOR SAVING ME FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL,HOW HE REACHE DOWN AND PICKED ME UP AND SAID I HAVE BEEN WAITING A LONG TIME FOR YOU TO COME TO ME;I GO TO CHURCH TO MINGLE WITH OTHER OF GOD’S CHILDREN WHO LOVE HIM AS I DO; I GO TO CHURCH TO HEAR GOD’S WORD TAUGHT BY A BIBLE SCHOLAR,WHO GIVES ME A NEW PERSPECTIVE;I GO TO CHURCH TO SING PRAISE;I GO TO CHURCH BECAUSE I LOVE TO GO,I CAN NOT WAIT FROM ONE SUNDAY TO THE NEXT TO HEAR GOD’S WORD.I AM SOOOOOOOOOO THANKFUL GOD PLANTED ME AT CEBC,A CHURCH I CALL MY HOME!!!!!!!!!!!I GO TO CHURCH SIMPLY BECAUSE I LOVE TO GO,TO WORSHIP MY FATHER,AND TO BE NEAR THE THRONE OF GOD.I LOVE MY CHURCH,I DO NOT KNOW WHY GOD PLANTED ME THERE,BUT I HAVE A CHURCH HOME,ALL MINE AND WHERE GOD IS.I GO TO CHURCH BECAUSE I LOVE WHAT ALL IT IS AND STANDS FOR.THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND OF GOD TO ME, I LOVE YOU MOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      This woman Joyce is a bonafide angel in many of our lives. She means this stuff and I appreciate the comment so so much.

  12. Jay Wickman says:

    Thanks friend for honoring Christ and encouraging me ☺

  13. Anne Rideoout says:

    You so beautifully put into words what I feel in my heart. I go to church because I want and need “family”. As a single woman with no family my church is my family. The younsters there are my children to encourage and help raise in the Lord. I go because Jesus said “where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name I am in the midst. I go to get the physical and spiritual hugs that corporate fellowship provides. I go to be fed God’s word. Sure I can study at home alone but the spiritual interaction with the “family” beats going solo any time. I go because I want to go. Jesus told me to “lnot forsake the assembling together with other believers.

  14. Sandra White says:

    I recently started to attend a Universalist church but already know it’s probably not for me. I was raised in a religious home but was also disillusioned by it and left when I lost my first marriage because I felt so judged. This blog is really good though.You have said things in a way I haven’t heard religious people ever say them. Would you talk to me if I wrote a private note to you? I am inspired by you! It looks like you have written allot but not for awhile. Will you be writing more?

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Hi Sandra- I’m so glad you wrote. (Have we met before?) Please feel free to send me a private message through Facebook and of course, I will respond. I don’t know what city you are in but maybe I can help you find a good church to check out and give it all another go. God bless you!

  15. Anna Hartt says:

    I completely agree with you. Sometimes, I go to church not thinking of anything and then, it is like the Pastor is talking directly to me. Some days, it is peaceful. Some days, my heart aches and I cry. I love to worship, but I can do that anywhere.

    Thank you – great Blog

  16. Jason Dean says:

    A friend of mine shared this on her Instagram and I liked it a lot. I’ve been disillusioned with church for a long time and haven’t dearkened a door in many years. This has made me think about checking things out with God again.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Hi Jason, I hope you do as it can become your spiritual, familial, and social lifeblood. I’m glad you found me here and I hope you will “subscribe” so that you don’t miss out on future blogs.

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