Luke describes what the church was like in the days following Pentecost when he wrote: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."
Did you ever think that being a part of the church and participating in worship, study, fellowship, and service could be good for your health? Well, I always have felt pretty good following a Sunday morning of worship and fellowship, as well as other times when we connect with each other for study or to work on a mission project. Now there is research that supports how being a part of a community of faith can have very positive effects on our health and sense of well-being and perhaps even add years to our lives!
Dan Buettner is the author of The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer, and his research examinging people all over the world who live long, healthy and happy lives is very revealing. He has identified what he calls Blue Zones, cities in the world that seem to produce populations that live longer, like Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Some of what he notes we might expect, like eating healthier foods, getting exercise and reducing stress. However, he also is quite clear that those who pay attention to their spiritual lives and are a part of a faith community reap tremendous benefits.
"Healtheir centenarians everywhere have faith," Dan writes. "The Sardinians and Nicoyans are mostly Catholic. Okinawans have a blended religion that stresses ancestor worship. Loma Linda centenarians are Seventh Day Adventists. Ikarians have traditionally been Greek Orthodox. All belong to strong religious communities. The simple act of worship is one of those subtly powerful habits that seem to improve your chances of having more good years. It doesn't matter if you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu."
Additionally, the denser social networks we create within our communties of faith and our tendency to volunteer our time give us an enhanced sense of well-being. Singing in the choir and teaching Sunday School can be good for your health!
Making a commitment to be an active part of a faith community through worship, fellowship, study and service will not only help us grow into more loving, compassionate, understanding, and forgiving individuals, but also just might give us more years to be that kind of person.
See you in worship,