Since I posted what I hate about church last week, I thought I should post about what I love about church today. Again, please know that when I talk about church it is not the buildings but the people who claim the name of Christian. Buildings are nothing more than the spaces we gather together to meet.
What do I love about church? I love the space it gives us to learn about Jesus. I love when Christians get it right and choose to love people without judgement. I love when we gather in small groups and wrestle with questions of faith and how we live out our faith in the community. I love that Christians give. They give to missions around the world, helping people in some of the most dire situations. We build wells, and fund micro-loans. We build schools, and hospitals. We operate children’s homes for children whose parents can’t or won’t raise them. In the Methodist church through UMCOR, we are some of the first on the ground at disaster sites. We send resources and funding to help people recover from disasters. We give our time and talents to help people fix, repair, build, listen, and so much more. We offer support for people who are struggling with addictions, we partner with groups like Family Promise to help families end the cycle of homelessness in their lives. We have food pantries, clothes closets, and we give away toiletries and paper goods and the list goes on and on and on in the many ways Christians across the globe help whenever and wherever needed.
I love that the church reaches out into the community supporting our schools and various other organizations in their charitable efforts. I love that we are there for families in the best of times and the worst of times as we come alongside celebrating and grieving. We are there when you get married. We are there when your children are born. We are there when they graduate. We are there when tragedy strikes, and family members die. We are there with casseroles and listening ears. We are there when you need someone to just be there. We are there willing to stand up for the oppressed and fight the injustices of our societies. We are there, in many cases when no one else is willing to be there.
I love the church when we worship. I love the liturgies and the creeds we say. I love the songs we sing whether hymns or songs of praise. I love to hear the choir sing and the praise band celebrate God. I love to hear the handbells ring. I love all the music!!! And if you are lucky enough to worship at a church that has stained glass windows, I love the artwork that depicts different aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry. I love the prayers said for the people and I love that each week, we gather to celebrate communion together. I love being together to worship with people who have become family. I love that we are all called to be light in a world that is filled with darkness. I love that church is a place where people of all ages from the very youngest to the most mature come together to worship and learn about Jesus.
I love how I am supported by my church family. Not just as one of the pastors, but as a person who is accepted and loved by people I would never have met if it wasn’t for the church. I love the church because everyone is equal. We are all one together in Christ and we are all given gifts to use in our service to God. No one is better than another. I love that when Christians get it right, we offer a place for people to go for healing and restoration. Which is exactly what Jesus offered throughout his ministry. Again, I could go on…and on…as all the above are just a few of the reasons I love the church.
When church gets it right, it is a loving stable community to live and grow in our faith. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you can do or not do, but only that you are part of a community that is working to be light and love as we follow Jesus’ example. When we get it right, we give hope to the hopeless, offer love to the unwanted, and shine light into the dark. We are not clanging gongs but a wonderful symphony of love…when we work together for the betterment of our communities, our nation, and our world.
In thinking about all the ways, I love the church, I can’t help but be reminded of a song from my youth:
“We are One in the spirit…we are One in the Lord…we are One in the spirit…we are One in the Lord…and we pray that our unity may one day be restored…And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”
So, I love when the church gets it right…because when the church gets it right, it is filled with God’s Holy Love for all people.