Pastor’s Corner Rev. Mark Keefer, pastor, Garwin United Methodist Church Garwin, Iowa
November 22, 2013
We all like to feel needed. It’s just the way humans are programmed. We are all unique and different, but for all our differences, that feeling of being needed is universal. As Christians, we sing about the friend we have in Jesus, and we know from Bible scriptures that we do not walk alone. But there are many who feel that they don’t need the guidance of a higher power, they don’t need to abide by the ‘rules,’ and they can get along by themselves very well, thank you. But, do they really? Various studies have shown that ‘churchgoers’ tend to be happier, more optimistic, and healthier than other people. A recent magazine article (The Week, 9/23/13) reported that some atheists and agnostics have begun to wonder whether the church experience could be fruitfully replicated, but minus the belief in God. So recently created in London, has been the “Sunday Assembly.” It has spread to other large metropolitan cities around the globe. Founders of this ‘assembly’ are seeking such benefits as a “sense of community,” “a thought-provoking (secular) sermon,” “group singing,” “and an “ethos of self-improvement.” They hope that eventually, Sunday Assembly will organize Sunday school, weddings, funerals, and “non-religious baptisms.” One wonders how it will all work out. Can secular ‘church’ fill the void that exists in a non-believers spirit? Christ spoke about the blessedness of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. That word ‘righteousness,’ for me, has always carried the tone of ‘right-with-ness’ - being right with God. How can that be duplicated in a secular service? I don’t think it can. God built into his creation, His beloved children, a basic need to belong, to have worth, and to have a sense of competence. It is only in God, through Jesus Christ, that we can find fulfillment of our basic needs. The psalmist wrote that, “[God] has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. (Ps. 107:9)” It only seems to follow that, when one leaves God out of the picture, the soul will continue to hunger and thirst. God responded to all our needs at the cross. Our need for belonging is fulfilled because our heavenly Father called us into His holy family. Gathering together to sing songs, to hear thought-provoking messages, and to celebrate births, deaths, and marriages is all well and good. But when the Creator of all things is left out of the picture, the effort is in vain. Do you have the need to belong, to be welcomed? Well, you can attend an ‘assembly,’ or you can attend a true worship service. The author of the book of Hebrews exhorted his readers to not neglect meeting together and to encourage each other (10:25). More than that, though, was Jesus encouragement that, when two or more are gathered in His name, He will be with them (Matthew 18:20). Join with other children of God this Sunday, and get to know The One who can bring completeness and belonging to your life. Have a blessed week. See you in church.
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