It was nice to see so many people in church on Easter. Really nice. Easter crowds make me wish we were working with that many people each Sunday.
Before I go any farther, let me offer a bit of clarification. Or some refocusing.
Just as you don’t join a church primarily to get your needs met, the church does not seek members to fulfill its needs — for time, talent and treasure. Both hopefully happen, but as collateral benefit rather than main purpose. Why? Because church is about joining with God’s people to meet the world’s needs.
Yes, we need enough people for there to be leaders every Saturday of the year for Breakfast and the Cupboard. And we need enough people to be generous enough to keep the buildings repaired and the salaries paid. And the grass needs to be mowed, the bulletins folded, and the Sunday School children taught.
Likewise, you need to find your place among us, where you feel recognized, respected, accepted and challenged. You need to experience our worship “working” for you: making sense, providing comfort, being worth making time for, and rising — at least sometimes! — to inspirational. You need to like dressing down on Sundays and our eclectic, even kooky crowd…
But all those things, both sides, are just the conditions that need to be fulfilled for a far greater goal, a crucial goal to come into play. We are meaning to be something and do something together much bigger than ourselves. The Bible promises that a little yeast can leaven the whole loaf.
What I’m saying is that being church is much more than the institutional details or even the individual duties of being a Christian. In it’s biggest sense, church is about incarnating a practical alternative. We live in a time of despair and cynicism, of division and violence, where it’s easier to defend and protect than to be open and giving.
Join us. We hope our way of following Jesus leads to a growing awareness and transformative experience of how all life is not just interconnected but also sacred.
Join us. We hope for courage to love instead of fear in the face of hatred and violence. We believe that our vulnerability and even a willingness to suffer sometimes is preferable to harming others.
Join us. We hope that our lives lived out in a service are both practice for us and example to others, that there is an alternative to much of how the world works these days. Hope is the better than cynicism, giving oneself better than selfishness.
Join us. We hope our faithfulness makes clear that there are various paths that affirm the unity and preciousness of life, and that we are free to appreciate and accept insight and meaning from diverse sources of wisdom.
Join us. We hope our religious community contributes to a larger sense of community that is inclusive of all people: conventional Christians and folks of other faiths too, people of no faith, questioning skeptics and agnostics, and all the other descriptions of people that are too often used to rank or divide people.
Join us. We hope that our behavior towards others is the fullest expression and example of what we say we believe.
We’re trying to live open and welcoming in a world that is trying to shut people out and shut us down.
See you in church,