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Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Because I Need To

For over a month now, due to constraints and duties beyond my control, I have been unable to attend church. This Sunday a tiny window of opportunity presented itself yet there were still pressures and consequences that made the decision difficult.

After vacillating somewhat I posed the question that I believe should always come first. “What would God have me do?” At that point … “nuff said.” Decision made.

So I “compelled” one son (the other is sick) to join me. I had commitments but I knew that much more was calling. I justified my need to leave my duties and go as “carrying a message”, honoring a commitment, setting an example … all the rote answers to why we go to church.

I rushed to be on time until I found myself standing in the sanctuary, singing with my fellow congregants. Suddenly but clearly the truest answer came to me. I needed to be there. I needed to sing these words of praise, hope and joy. Why could I not just sing them in the shower or car? Why could I not simply read the bible or other spiritual literature?

I avoided church for twenty years as the “opiate of the masses.” Today I know that corporate worship is the manna of our lives that infuses us with the strength to live. As those voices rose to the upper ranges of human octave my heart soared along with them. When the small children with their cherub faces exited the sanctuary my seriousness could not contain my huge smile at their innocent satisfaction with themselves.

Most of all … it was the glowing faces of these folks who walk with me hand in hand on our journey with Christ. I saw their histories, as I know them, in their eyes as they loved me and I loved them back and I was healed. I touched them and they touched me and I was renewed.

God speaks to us through each other, you see. We know the Father through the hearts and minds and experiences of our brothers and sisters.

Finally a young woman I have watched grow from adolescence to young adulthood stood and sang a hymn of gratitude in her clear soprano and I struggled to hold back the tears. Her joy lifted us all to a place beyond where any can go alone. The unabashed clarion of her faith held out its hand and caressed our cheeks, each and every one, with the unquenchable love of God.

I am no longer a young man and much has passed. One thing I know is that I must be with my fellows on this eternal journey of the spirit. I must sing with them and work with them. I must shake their hands and hug them. I must hear their joy and their lament and I must experience the all-encompassing love of God as it lives in his house.

I go to church because I need to. Please come with me to this place of love. Please come with me to My Father’s house. I have something to show you but I cannot show you with words. You must feel it and if you go with an open heart I suspect that you will one day discover that you need to go too.

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