When I was growing up my father insisted that we go to church. We never missed a Sunday. I grew up on a farm in Missouri, so our church was about 20 minutes away. We’d all bundle into the car and race to the service. I say race, because it seemed that we were always late.
But luckily the back pew was usually available. Empty pews are common in today’s churches. There are sporting events, social affairs, and just plain sleeping in on Sunday mornings. The latter is what my father calls practicing the ‘sack religion’, where one prefers to stay in the sack rather go to church. I’m very thankful that my parents raised me the way they did. I would not be the type of person I am today, otherwise.
Going to worship service, Sunday school, vacation Bible school and youth group planted God’s love deep within me and saved me from certain peril. For you see, I got lost on life’s twisting path. When I was a child, going to church was a mandate. As I got older, I started to investigate other denominations and religions, but never really settled on any one. Then came college and grad school. That was the time when I thought I had religion all ﬁgured out. I was convinced that the belief in God was mankind’s primitive response to the fear of dying. That logically, God didn’t exist. So, what happened? Why am I a Christian today? I wish I could say that I experienced some great Epiphany. That I saw a great bright light like Paul on the road of Damascus and God spoke to me. God did speak to me, but quietly.
My parents had given me a small delicate gold cross necklace when I was in my Self-Righteous stage. I put it away for a number of years. But then one day I put it on and said a small prayer. Since that day my faith and love in God has continuously grown. Today I attend Little Fork Episcopal Church. The historical building is over 240 years old and its interior has a simple grandeur. Yet there’s something very special about this church.
Some say that the Holy Spirit is strong here. That is true, but I like to think that its love. The love of God and the love we have for one another. Sometimes when it’s my turn to prepare the altar for communion, I go on a Saturday and take it in. God’s love is quiet and peaceful then. But on Sunday mornings the love we have for God and each other is everywhere and is it exuberant! It’s the kind of love of which Jesus spoke. Love that is a way of life!
To paraphrase our presiding bishop Michael Curry when he gave the sermon at the royal wedding… Can you imagine a world where love prevails? No child would go hungry, poverty would be history, there would be no war, we would treat each other like we are actually family. Where love is the way, we are all brothers and sisters, children of God and that’s a new world, a new earth, and a new human family. We live in a fragmented and broken world.
Some might say we need to spend more money on the problems of the world. But money is just a band aid and can not permanently ﬁx the problems we have. Love is the ﬁx. If going to church is the way to ﬁnd love and can ﬁx the world, what then do we have to lose?