Church fosters kinship about faith
Ron Channell, pastor, Family Church of Lawrence, 5150 Clinton Parkway:
This is a vital question that is more pertinent today than ever before. To answer it, let's go straight to the source, the living word of God (Hebrews 4:12). Christ tells us, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).
This directive is vital for all believers in Christ. In fact, it is the reason Family Church of Lawrence exists. Our motto, "The place where real people care about real issues," is not meant as a catchy phrase. It is the purpose for coming together - to demonstrate the essence of God's love infused in his people, then to touch the lives of others.
Many today express the point of view that they are spiritual but not religious. The Greek word for religious refers to public worship. Christ desires for his family to come together. His emphasis on community worship is because it fosters relationships, first with himself, then with one another. Ephesians 4:16 says we will grow in him as we are joined and held together, building each other up in love.
The church (the collective believers in Christ) should be a conduit of God's love and teachings - a community of believers encouraging, challenging, loving and inspiring one another. "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).
When we choose to distance ourselves, we, too often, become lax in our spiritual disciplines. Before long, they are simply a distant memory. God has wired us for fellowship and the church plays a critical role in the growth of the Christian.
- Send e-mail to Ron Channell at email@example.com.
Personal worship more than sufficient
Charles Gruber, Sufi minister, student of Zen Buddhism and member of the Oread Friends Meeting:
Merriam Webster says about religious:
1. Manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity
2. Of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances
3. Scrupulously and conscientiously faithful
It is interesting that none of the above definitions refer to services, churches, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship, rabbis, priests, imams, liturgies, congregations, holy days, prayer books, frankincense or myrrh.
The passionate interface with "all that is" characterizes personal worship that is more than sufficient for one to be "religious." The acknowledgment of spirit is not just a substitution for a church edifice; it is a prerequisite for entry into the church of the heart, wherein lies the yearning for connection with the eternal.
True compassion is the collection plate of the soul. Blessing other people exactly as they are is the call-and-response of silent prayer. Focusing on the generosity of the universe is the collective hymn of the inner congregation. Simple meditation at the dawn of the new day is the faithful devotion to listening to the divine.
Attending services serves an important function in connecting with other humans. I myself look forward to going to the Oread Friends Meeting every Sunday. Our silent services are different from most. And they reinforce the silence in my heart during the week.
Does one need to attend services to be religious? Heavens, no.
- Send e-mail to Charles Gruber at firstname.lastname@example.org.