A friend posted a link to a recent NY Times article on books addressing the growing Spiritual but not religious segment. Writing a recent memoir has made me think a lot about Christiian community, and specifically, the communities that raised me, formed me and continue to support me. I want to offer an excerpt from that memoir as my response.
from I Don’t Remember Signing Up For This Class: a life of darkness, light and surprising grace
I think we get confused sometimes about who church is really for. Of course, I need the challenge and the community and the comfort and the chance to sing. I need the friendships that I form. But it’s not just about me.
I spend hot summer days helping with the recreation for Vacation Bible School because someone did it for me. I invest in helping to lead a Sunday school class because I never know who might need that small group of fellow pilgrims. I never know what people bring with them into that room. I gather for worship because I need it. But I also gather because there are children and youth who will need to know that God loves them too. There are children and youth who need to be connected with adults who aren’t their parents.
It’s what the “I can worship anywhere” crowd forgets. It’s not just about us. It’s about the widow living alone who has no other source of hugs than what she gets on a Sunday morning. It’s a teenager who gets told in a thousand ways that she’s too fat or he’s too stupid, and who need to know that there are people who love them as is. It’s children who need to learn first hand that God’s house is a place where they can laugh and have fun, be silly, talk about what bothers them and know they are loved.
Sometimes you can pick them out. Even if you don’t know them, you see the haunted, desperate look in their eyes. You feel the hunger in their hug. And sometimes you’d never guess.
Just look at me.
We encourage each other to pay for the cup of coffee ordered by the person behind us in line, and when it happens to us we’re astounded by the grace of it. Yet week in and week out there are folks who are paying it forward, and I gladly count myself in their number.
The God I came to know through God’s people saved me. How can I not extend the same grace to someone else?
I participate in Christian community not just because my spirit needs it, but because I’m helping to create a container that the world needs.
It isn’t just about us.
I Don’t Remember Signing Up For This Class will be available on Kindle within a week, and will come out in paperback in September. Sign up for my newsletter (click on sign up) to get fair warning for both of these events (as well as others.)