After a very long and boring sermon the parishioners filed out of the church saying nothing to the preacher. Towards the end of the line was a thoughtful person who always commented on the sermons. “Pastor, today your sermon reminded me of the peace and love of God!”
The pastor was thrilled. “No-one has ever said anything like that about my preaching before. Tell me why.” “Well - it reminded me of the Peace of God because it passed all understanding and the Love of God because it endured forever!”
The following were among the reasons for leaving the church recently given by lapsed Catholics: “the pastor crowned himself king and looks down on all”, “extreme conservative haranguing”, the church’s handling of clergy sex abuse scandal, divorced and remarried Catholics unwelcome at Mass, and the need for better music and better homilies.
So why should I attend church as opposed to many other wonderful and God-given amusements I might pursue on Sunday morning? What is the number one reason for going to church? Priority. If God is most important in my life, I will be at church and not just on Sunday mornings. O.K. It sounds like I’m preaching to the choir.
What is CHURCH and why should I go there? The Greek word for church gives the meaning “called together”. The German word for church, Kirche, “what belongs to God”, gives us perhaps the best meaning. We belong to God; we are called together.
Church first started long before Christ when God called together a people through the prophets. Abraham heard the divine call; Moses asked the people to choose whom they would follow.
Jesus announced the reign of God and gave us many apt images to relate to: the sheepfold, the vineyard, the building of which he was the cornerstone, the New Jerusalem. Are there any of these you would shun?
Most important is the fact that the church is a sacrament, a sign to the world of the union we enjoy with Christ. We are one in the Spirit with God and one with the human race which Jesus embraced in his flesh.
The church is the place where we become Christ. Through Baptism we become children of God; through the Holy Spirit we have the gifts of love, faith, joy, peace…Galatians 5:22.
Are we up for the challenge of CHURCH? Our task? The Holy Spirit in us enables our gifts, our charisms that work through the church which we are. I’ll repeat that: WE ARE THE CHURCH.
Let us not dodge the challenge! It is in the church that we use the gifts of the Spirit to heal, to teach, to invite, to encourage and to love and love and love. Christ is still in the Church!