This morning Merideth and I got our two youngest boys out the door for the first day of school. Our first-grader rode his bike to school this morning with two of his buddies (and a couple of dads, including Yours Truly). Our eighth-grader (all dressed up) walked to school with two of his friends, who live on our street.
At our littlest boy's school, we ran into church members, preschool staff, friends from our neighborhood, and teachers we have come to love. I'm sitting in a Starbucks now while Merideth visits with moms from our church--a drop-in event organized by one of our awesome church staffers.
Later this morning we are driving to San Antonio to attend the swearing-in ceremony of one of our church members who is becoming a U.S. citizen. I'm excited to see this ceremony, and I am super excited for our friend, and to be able to share this incredible milestone with her and her family.
This is what it means for me to be a part of a church. To do life with other people. To raise kids in a wide village that includes but is not limited to Sunday morning gatherings. To know that you are part of an extended community that touches people beyond the four walls of your church building.
Sometimes people who aren't part of a church will tell me, "I'm pretty good with Jesus, but the whole church thing really isn't for me."
I get it. The Church has it's problems. It can be exclusionist, corrupt and misguided. Some church-y people can be downright mean, narrow-minded and awful. And that's why we all need Jesus.
I've come to believe, however, that the benefits of being part of a faith community are worth the risk of being wounded now and again. And further, living your life in community with others who are sharing your story is one of the most energizing, generative things you can do as a human being.
God create us to be in community. Through Jesus, we are drawn together in a loving, hospitable unity that transcends and includes our diversity. If you aren't part of a faith community, part of something that is bigger than you---maybe you should give it a try.
It very well could be the most life-giving thing you will ever do.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.