“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29: 11)
Soon we will be “launching” another church year. We begin in September with planning among our committees and boards (Session and Deacons) so that from now through next summer our Church of the Roses is able to execute God’s plan for our ministry in this special part of the world. I am so grateful for all our church family members who are stepping up and participating in our committees making sure we are more than just a social club of like-minded individuals.
But what do you think? Is our church just a social club much like other social clubs? Some people believe church is just a social club and so they choose to socialize elsewhere. Many people believe they can get their needs met by being individually “spiritual” and sociable through clubs and other activities of common interest. Do you know people who believe that way? Isn’t there something missing in those groups that only a faithful church can fulfill?
Nothing links humans to one another as strong as seeking together a deeper connection to God who reminds us that our gathering is not just about “me.” It is about doing what we can for others while working from a common foundation of God’s love. Just by gathering with other Christians (or seekers who want to know who Jesus is) we are providing an atmosphere of loving acceptance, inspiration, and hope. It’s hard to find that kind of atmosphere in other places. We provide this atmosphere of hope and inspiration by reminding everyone who comes in our doors that they are not alone and that we care for them.
A “welcoming all” attitude goes a long way in healing a broken soul. More than any therapy or drug, it helps all of us when we enter a sanctuary full of people who want to share God’s love with us; not for just their own benefit but for the benefit of the whole world. Love is contagious. We gather together to multiply love and to spread it across the Universe for the sake of Jesus Christ who taught us how to love in healing, loving and forgiving ways.
The entity we call “Church” is defined by its values. A church is not a social club because it is founded upon Christian values that are shared among an open community. Many social clubs are elitist and charge money. We pass an offering plate but no one is turned away if they can’t donate for the future of the church. Our door is always open to people of all colors, sexual orientations, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds. Together we try our best to demonstrate our Christian core values of: peace-giving, hospitality, loving salvation, open sacraments, indiscriminate compassion, forgiveness of sins, advocacy for equality, upholding of dignity, respect and social justice for all.
We are a refuge for the lonely, friendless, and stranger. Our sanctuary is a sacred place where peace is promoted and love generously shared. The ministry of our church provides a safe and healthy environment for children to learn from healthy role models of all ages. Inspiration to live with hope and a sense of purpose is promoted during every Sunday worship service as we encourage all to praise God for our many blessings and learn how to closely follow the best role model who ever lived, Jesus Christ.
Gratitude and grace are everywhere in our church. We feed each other, bond together, promote peace and justice and pray for one another’s healing in body, mind, and spirit. Our sense of the Holy Spirit guiding our lives and protecting us enhances our ability to cope with a world afflicted by chaos. Our resilience is enhanced through worshiping every Sunday with an attitude of thanksgiving, prayer, and praise to God for all we have been given.
Attending our church on a regular basis is not meant to just assuage feelings of guilt and shame (even thought it might help with those feelings). Attending our church provides an oasis where we get rejuvenated and re-centered in the Spirit. Inspired preaching, teaching, and positive fellowship strengthens us for the trials and tribulations that come with life on earth. Our church is a lighthouse of hope and a point of reference that shines a positive perspective on the world and an awareness of our individual impact upon it.