So many people now a days ask the question, "Why should I come to church?" or say things like, "Church is irrelevant." I believe that now, more than ever, we need to be in company of believers. We live in anxious times. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you can feel the stress and contention in this country. As Patrick Henry once cried, "[we] cry peace! peace! but there is no peace!" Many are still feeling the pinch of the last great recession while others are having to retrain for new jobs they never thought about before. As the world shifts from brick and mortar and person to person businesses to online and electronic media, we find ourselves more and more isolated. It's easy to read a report or listen to the news and feel the anxiety rising within every fiber of our bodies and minds. But God has a solution.
Jeremiah, chapter 17, verse 8 states:
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought, it is not anxious; and it does not cease to bear fruit.
The prophet is reminding us that throughout history the world has experienced good times and bad. However, if we are planted and rooted by the living water, we will not only survive but thrive! The living water is the Word of God revealed through Jesus Christ. God's word created the heavens and earth and all the creatures in it - including us. Sometimes we forget that we are loved by a gracious and caring God. A God that wants us to thrive, not just survive.
We need others who share our beliefs to remind us that we are not alone - that we do not have to face our struggles by ourselves. We can turn to each other in the dry times for that refreshing drink of water. We can be reassured that God is in the struggle with us. As Christians, we come together to share our burdens and our strengths. The popular song "Lean on Me" says, "We all need somebody to lean on." Sometimes we are the strong ones for others to lean on; sometimes we are the ones who need to lean upon someone else. God reveals God's self through the actions of believers (among many other ways). We come together to "practice" our faith, taking turns being givers and receivers of God's grace.
A young man I knew in Mississippi grew up in an average home with loving parents, joined the Navy, and is now working outside Washington D.C. He shares an important lesson for all of us about letting go of our anxiety that we might be one of "those" who needs God's grace. With his permission I share it with you:
At a difficult point in my life, I ate in a soup kitchen run by a UCC pastor my mom knew. The first time I came there I wanted to at least help serve the food, because I'm not one of "those" people who needs a soup kitchen (of course I was; I hadn't eaten solid food in 2 days at that point).
But the pastor was very explicit: before you can serve, you have to accept. She said she lost about half her volunteers from that. I couldn't afford to say no; I was really hungry. So I ate the meal, and several more weeks of it. And I never volunteered there, in the end.
We maybe stress charity a lot, but we undervalue the need to accept it. To say, "the well has run dry, and I need my neighbors".
We at Tabor PC invite you to COME and MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS.
May God bless each one,