Monday, July 12, 2010

My anchor and my life-raft

Church on Sunday has always served as an anchor for my life. I'm not sure if it's the fact that attending church has been a constant routine since I was an infant, or maybe the sense of assurance I receive from being part of a loving and encouraging faith community, or simply an authentic spiritual experience that's fed by the fact of God's blessing in response to the practice of corporate worship..?

Here at my computer, ruminating on a Monday morning, I suspect it's a complex interrelationship between all three. I can't deny the comfort level of predictable routine, and a social milieu defined by friendliness and nurture is a proven vehicle for stability and affirmation. But, at the same time, the spiritual value that is unique to Church provides an element of groundedness and redemptive truth that is - in my experience - only available in the context of Christian Community.

That's nice, and it's certainly a positive testimony regarding the life-affirming reality of my experience at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, but it also begs the question (one of Rebekah's favorites), "So what?"

Because the real truth about Sunday morning (and evening, with my small group) is told on Monday-Saturday when we're not gathered in a big blob on the north-east corner of Hwy 60 and Parsons.

We talked about this - indirectly - in my Sunday morning study group. We were discussing the idea of living in the constant awareness of our spirituality. One of the group made the observation that he can go hours without thinking about God, or considering the spiritual nature of any given moment or activity.

So I shared a quote from an interesting story by a writer for the United Methodist Reporter (a Dallas-based news magazine). The column, which ran late last week, was about me and my book, "The Unmaking of a part-Time Christian". Here's her question and my answer:

Many readers might say, “I’m a full-time mom” or “I have a full-time job” and therefore “I can’t be a full-time Christian too.” Your response?
It’s not mutually exclusive. There’s this idea that we can’t be spiritual giants, we have to leave that to the professionals. But we can be involved in all these other things and still have a sense of full-time faith. We can be the presence of Christ in this world. Christ said that we were going to continue his work; literally, he wanted us to be his presence. It’s not as if we have to drop out and become monastic; it’s the opposite. Jesus wants to be invited into the everyday world. God wants a permanent seat at the table of our consciousness. We can think of Jesus as a filter through which we can pour the contents of every single day.

My life is, I firmly believe, qualitatively different Monday-Saturday because of worship on Sunday. Being part of a church is, or course, so much more than the "worship hour" on Sunday morning. Jesus is, as I said, "a filter through which we can pour the contents of every single day". But that time in worship, shared with the 300-400 people in attendance on a given weekend, is not only an anchor for my life, it's a life-raft too.

If you don't attend a church, or do so only sporadically, I'd like to encourage you to make the commitment to be a faithful Jesus-follower in the context of a faith-community where you are loved, nurtured, instructed and encouraged to "live like you mean it"... Because God most certainly does.

Grace and Peace - DEREK

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