From Alex's Study
Dear Church Family,
I get that question from time to time – people wondering why in these days the church still matters, or deserves our care and commitments. I think about that question very often, as I tell people what I do or where I work, and I imagine their minds spinning with ideas and questions. Here are some recent thoughts on Why Church?
Church offers us an opportunity to encounter God. While there are plenty of opportunities to encounter God outside of the church, the church seeks to be a place where God’s grace can work effectively – as we read the Bible, pray, sing spiritual songs, celebrate the sacraments. The church seeks to be a place where we are intentional, and without reservation, at opening our hearts and lives to God. The church seeks to be a place where we learn about Jesus, where we remember God’s loving care through all things. We hope that in all the happenings around this church, we sense God’s presence and promises, feel God’s love and light, and seek to grow closer to life with God.
Church surrounds us with community. We are social beings. We need one another, especially in an era when loneliness is on the rise, and addictions, suicides, and other signs of isolation haunt our culture. Church gives us a place to connect with others, opportunities to be with other faithful people who are striving to trust God and serve God amidst life’s changes and challenges. Church gives us a place to learn from one another what it means to be a disciple, to practice forgiveness, to love others, even our enemies. Church gives us a place to belong, to find encouragement, to grow, to change, to be better people. We hope that this community increases your sense of belonging, your sense of fellowship, your connections that deepen your faith and improve your life.
Church broadens our perspective, raises our gaze toward God. Life is so much bigger than our lives. Volume 36 Issue 11 November 2018 God’s purposes are so much broader than our knowledge and views. Yet it is so easy to be tuned in mostly to our problems, our concerns, our limitations. In church, we are always invited to step back, to look to God, to see our lives in the broader realm of God’s love and plans. Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. Nothing can frustrate God’s plans to move the world toward the kingdom of heaven. The church also gives us a place to practice the hard things of life – forgiving ourselves and others, maintaining hope amidst life’s setbacks, keeping on when we feel shattered. Death on a cross is not the end. The grave does not have the last word. No darkness can overcome God’s light. We hope that this community broadens us to God’s steadfast love and equips us as living, trusting and serving disciples.
Church gives us a mission and a purpose for living. We do not live for ourselves or to ourselves. We do not live for wealth and possessions or to be happy. We live to serve God – to glorify God and enjoy God forever. So, we seek to give to God – through the church – our heart, soul, mind, strength. We seek to give God our money and time. We seek to give to God our lives. We are created to love God and love others.
The church gives us a place to live this out – as we come together, serve together in downtown Richmond and around the world. We hope that this community deepens in each of us sincere commitments toward selfless service in the world as disciples of Jesus. The church is a place to sing out our life with and for God. The church is a place to sing away our fears and selfishness and grow in love. The church encourages us to do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God. Thanks be to God for this church and for our life together.