Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Meditation

Why do I go to Church?

A first glance this may seem like an odd question for a priest to answer. I am, what we in the business call, a paid believer. It's my job to go to church. However, this is not the reason I participate in the communal worship God, which is what a church service is. I worship God with groups of people gathered in praise because that is how I come in contact with the beyond. Now, I'm not talking about the psychic hotline here. I'm not saying I channel the spirits of the fallen during worship or any such nonsense. I'm saying that often in worship I and, I believe, all of us experience transcendent moments; connections to God that are beyond my ability to fully comprehend or explain. From this contact, I am re-aligned with my proper place in the universe. Simply put, I am reminded that God is God and I am not.

Now, you might be saying at this point that all this can be done in private devotions at home. What's the need to get to church on Sunday morning? First, actually going to church is important because I am reconnected with my fellow believers in worship. This common practice of praising God affirms within me my connections to my neighbors. Consequently, I am inspired to live more justly in all my relationships be they with my family, my neighborhood, city, state, and world. Furthermore, actually going to church is a lot like going to the gym. I can and do workout at home, but when I go to the gym and take an exercise class I work harder. Maybe I don't want to look weak in front of my wife, or maybe I just want to keep up with the guy next to me lifting twice as much weight as me. Either way working out in public does not allow me to slack off. Worshiping with other people provides a helpful discipline so that I can grow in my relationships with God and others.

Why do you go to church?

This Meditation can also be found on the website of the Church of the Resurrection in Omaha, NE.

1 comment:

Karl Julian said...

Communal worship helps give us roots. When we worship only as individuals, we're not being challenged. We don't have to grow because we get to practice just the way we want to and aren't pulled out of ourselves. We get to pick and choose what we want to do and we get to imagine God in any way that feels comfortable for us. When we're pulled out of ourselves we can take root in deep soil: the soil of our fellow believers (both living and dead). They challenge us to practice and they challenge us in dialogue about the Holy.

Having been someone who practiced religion as an individual privately for many years, I am so glad to have found the church. I am glad to feel the challenge of practice, and I'm glad to have the community present for when I can't believe or don't feel I have the strength.