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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

April 2008

going to church...being the church     Reverend Laurie

Why do we go to church?  Is it just something we are in the habit of doing?  Is it one of those “supposed to’s” that we learned as a child, so we just do it?  Do we go to church as a way of fulfilling an obligation to God?  Do we go to church to get a “shot in the arm” of hope in order to make it through the rest of the week?  Or is the reason we go to church bigger than a habit, or an obligation or just because?  For as long as I can remember, I have gone to church.  I don’t think my family was extremely “religious” (everyone was more than a little surprised when I announced that I believed that God was calling me to be a minister).  At home we didn’t talk much about God or prayer or devotion.  I’m not sure why we went to church so often. I never asked why, it was just something we did.  I do know that when I finally received my driver’s license, week after week, I made the decision to drive myself to church.  Why?  I think, in part, because I was seeking to know God and in part because I found meaning in worship.  For the most part, however, I did not want to miss church because it was a place where I was welcomed and nurtured.  I always lingered at coffee hour to visit with people who showed me acceptance, love and compassion.  In the fellowship hall of the church, I discovered what it was to be the church!  As the church was living out its call to be family, sisters and brothers in community together, it was demonstrating the love of God and it was powerful and transforming. 

     When the Mission Action Team lead us in worship a few months ago and invited us to share how we had seen God at Bower Hill, many in our congregation shared similar stories of how the church had been a powerful community of caring and compassion reaching out to one another and to the world.  Stories were told of acts of compassion and mission and it was an inspirational experience to hear story after story about the awesome power of the church in your lives.  That worship celebration was a natural springboard to the Mission Action Team’s next experiment which began on March 30.  The experiment is called Faith In Action and it will lead us to delve deeper into the question, what does it mean to be the church? The centerpiece of this experiment is “Don’t Go to Church Sunday,” which will take place on April 20th, and we will cancel our regular Sunday morning worship service on that day. 

     As strange as it sounds to cancel worship, we will do it as a dramatic statement that church is about more than just going to a building, it is about more than just worship, it is about using our gifts to be the church in the world.  As we have just experienced Easter Sunday, I can’t help but think about what happened after the resurrection.  Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to go build a big church and stay in it.  He told them to go out into all the world and share the gospel.  On April 20th, we will be going out in the world and sharing the good news of God’s love as we care for the community around us.  We will be doing acts of service on behalf of God as a demonstration of God’s love and we will be inviting others to join us are we go out to “Be the Church.”  Yes, this is an opportunity for us to do a little evangelism!  For those of us who are a little uncomfortable with the word evangelism, perhaps it is helpful to remember that “evangelism” is about sharing the good news and what better way to share the good news than by caring for one another and God’s community.  It is our hope that those who find it difficult to invite someone to church will find it easy to invite someone to participate in an act of service. 

     In the days and weeks ahead, we hope you will join in this wonderful worship, small group, and mission opportunity with an open heart as we seek to claim our identity as a “Community” church and join in being the church to our community.  We further hope that you will hold up the Mission Action Team and the leadership of the church in your prayers.  May God continue to bless this community.