Years ago, I had a friend who'd sometimes say to me: "Church? I don't need it. I find God in nature." Perhaps you have heard this sentiment, as well. I certainly agree that we can find God in nature: who hasn't felt the sacred when hearing a loon across a lake at dusk, or looking out over a mountain range, or marveling at a spider creating a web? But the experience of church offers us so much more, a "more" that I believe we especially need right now.
We need folks to pray for us, when we are despairing, heartbroken and unmoored. We need values to anchor us, when the world is awash in violence and bigotry. We need a community that will challenge us, when we are stuck in our own fearful stasis. We need sacred music that will lift us, when we feel flat. We need a place to belong, when lives are fractured and lonely. We need a vision to embolden us, when systems try to keep us quiet. We need others who believe in the love and mercy of Jesus, with whom we can go out into the world and chip away at the edifices of hate and fear that have calcified around us. We need inspiration, when the news is all war and death. We need to be the church-- because there is no other place that will both love us and challenge us, welcome us and send us, hold us up and ask great things of us.
My partner, Jason, joined us for worship on May 8. He is not a church-goer, nor does he consider himself a Christian. But as we got into the car to drive away after coffee hour, he turned to me and said solemnly: "That is so important. What you do is so important. Like, there HAS TO always be churches." I agree. What WE do is so important.
Thank you all -- each one of you! -- for being the church.