In to Worship...Out to Serve
A few weeks ago, I was reading an article or listening to a podcast (that's like an internet radio show) that I don't remember much about, but one thing has stuck with me (apologies to Wednesday morning's Reflections group) since tht day. In talking about church participation on Sundays, the speaker said something to the effect of this: "If your whole practice of the faith is contained in going to church on Sunday, you're not really living the faith that Jesus taught." And then the speaker went on to say that they viewed going to worship services on Sundays as a kind of "support group" for their Christian faith. In other words, they practiced their faith in the world, as Jesus did, but nurtured their faith in the worshipping comunity of a local congregation. So, yeah, that stuck with me and I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks now. This isn't to say that attending worship services isn't valuable; it is. But, is THAT all there is?
Obviously, there are many other things that happen at a church or through a church that constitute practicing our faith. There are groups that support people, mission education and involvement groups, food and clothing collection activities, and etc. But a big question I'm left with is this: "Do we have a good balance of opportunities to worship God and opportunities to practice our faith?" No single church can offer every kind of ministry and mission opportunity, but does our church promote our members'/our congregants' engagement with mission and ministry? I feel that we certainly try to do so. I believe my understanding of the faith and my preaching of the good news encourages our BUCC folks to act in the world as if our hands were Jesus' hands. I believe that our time "In Church' informs and equips us for our time "In the World."
So, what do we do in worship each week? We sing and pray, praising and thanking God for creating and loving the world, and for creating and loving us. We hear God's word that suggests or convinces or convicts us to love our neighbors, for in loving them we show our love for God. And what do we do out in the world beyond Sunday morning? We volunteer in the church, the town, the schools, and other agencies. We promote and support charities, missions, and ministries in the Newfound Area, in New Hampshire, in the United States, and in the world. We say our prayers that God's "will be done on earth as in heaven." And we try to do the works that God would have us do. And then, from time to time, we gather again to sing and praise God's name. This is church; this is the faith. To help us focus and remind ourselves of these two types of faith practice, we'll have some very simple signs on the doors/doorways of the church sanctuary in June. These will be simple IN and OUT signs, with a plus. They'll point us, "In to Worship," and, "Out to Serve." See if you notice them. And if you do, take a moment to remember our life of faith together, worshipping God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.