We are a Church-going family. My husband is a Pastor so it would be pretty weird if we were not. Over the years I have thought about this and why I go. During my time attending different churches I have seen Christians do and say some awful things and, I know the same could be said by those observing me. I know my heart and thoughts; sometimes they stink. I read history and struggle to reconcile some of what has been done in the name of the Church. My mind then drifts to the Bible and realises that nothing is new under the sun.
From the beginning God created a Community in order for His people to meet together and worship Him. Church is His idea. He wanted Adam to have a companion to work alongside him in the garden, to share worship together. Israel was formed in order for God's people to join together in worship as they waited for the Messiah. Jesus choose a ragbag group of followers to share His earthly work with. A lot of those men and women were dysfunctional and looked nothing like the heart of God, but they were hand picked to start the global phenomenon which shows no sign of stopping - the Church.
After the first Easter weekend and the 40 days afterwards Jesus was with His small band of followers. Then He went back to heaven whilst they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Once that happened their work was to spread the good news of Jesus, setting up local Churches as they went. It sounds idyllic until we flick a few pages further in the New Testament. Churches were planted, Christians met and then fell out about serving, doctrines, positions, who to follow etc. A lot of the New Testament was written to local Churches (that God had led different people to set up) about how to behave towards one another or what we should think about Jesus and His very being. The book of Revelation mentions many different Churches.
Over the years of being a Christian many people at Church, or Churches themselves, have annoyed, upset or plain confused me. However, the one thing that has kept me going along to a local place of Worship is a passage in Hebrews Chapter 10: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. " I find it interesting that in the English translation used here the good deeds and the not giving up meeting together are joined by a comma not separated by a full stop.
The Church (local or global) is God's idea, He thought of the plan so that His followers would have community. He longs for His people to worship Him in Spirit and truth as individuals, but also together. He gave us the Church so that we could be strengthened, encouraged and challenged. Sometimes that will mean it is hard work but at other times the fellowship with other believers will be real joy. It may sometimes look battered, shabby and lacking in any kind of spiritual awareness but it is His, and one day will be perfected in sinless unity to Worship Him forever.
Sunday, 8 April 2012
At the beginning of Lent I put a self-imposed ban on myself. I gave up some of my favourite Internet sites and wondered what would happen. Here are the thoughts that I have had now that time is over. Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time away and hope not to get sucked back into the time-guzzling machine that tells me I am building Community.
- Spend more quality time with my family, without the haze of a computer screen in my glasses.
- I have managed to spend a lot less time on the Internet, discovering that Facebook and some of the other sites I frequented were draining the energy that was needed to be with my family. I went on yesterday to some of those sites and was reminded how easily I could get drawn back into the apparent transparency of people's lives. Real life has its own troubles (and joys) and I need to be prepared for it so plan to keep my time on Facebook etc to a minimum. I wish I could regulate myself well but in times of tiredness etc all my good intentions go out of the window, hence the strict rules I will place on myself.
- My brief foray into Facebook etc yesterday reminded me that endless regurgitated (reposted) sayings, helpful hints, misquotes, rudeness and information so personal it made me blush, maybe is not the best use of my time. They have had their place in my life but they need to take a back seat for the moment.
- Spend more time with God.
- I did manage to spend more time reading the Bible but my times of prayer need a lot more work. The period of Lent also gave me time to reflect on Jesus and what having a relationship with Him means to me.
- Spend more time with friends in my town. Build real-life friendships.
- Spending less time checking up on the latest update of someone's status meant I was free to go out more and enjoy coffee with friends here. My town has a superfluity of Coffee Shops and I visited many of them and enjoyed myself immensely.
- Spend more time building up my long-distance friendships, some of which are only there because of the Internet.
- Coming off some websites meant I was able to focus more on a small one where I participated on a more regular basis enabling me to feel more part of the members' every day comings and goings.
- Do more thorough cleaning. My house is pretty tidy but there are lots of areas that don't get done which should.
- The house has a slightly cleaner feel to it, although going out more meant the housework did not become an obsession. :)
- Read more books.
- I read a lot more books. Some have made me laugh, others made me cry and still others just inspired me by the amazing people that have lived and worked for Jesus.
- Listen (or watch, using iplayer ironically) to some Lent Lectures.
- Failed completely to do this but I did listen to a service and a 'Thought for the day' on BBC Radio 4.
- Rebuild the margins in my life.
- My husband has a book about this that I will read and maybe come back to this later when I remember what I meant by this.
- Develop real hospitality in my home.
- Not a lot of this went on but the small amount I did was less pressured as the constant call of the web just was not there.
- Keep cooking and learn more skills.
- This will always be an on-going thing for me. My family were well fed and there were less 'Oh, I forgot to take something out of the freezer' dinners because I was not so occupied.
- Maybe, start a needle craft again.
- No needlecraft was started. However, I did managed to adapt a dress for me to wear and I have plans to make petticoats for the girls for them to wear under their Flora Day dresses.