Wandering the savage garden…

I’m Thankful for My Church

My family and I attended church services on Christmas Eve, at 5:00 p.m., the first of three services our church put together. The next service was at 9:00 p.m., and the last service was Sunday morning, on Christmas day.

The services were fairly normal services for the church, although they did have some special features – a family played some instrumental Christmas music, and we had interpretive dance (rhythmic gymnastics, with ribbons, which is one of my favorite gymnastics sports for some reason. I really don’t know why. I like watching the ribbons hang in midair while the gymnast is off doing something different.)

The thing that struck me about the services, beyond the unusual aspect of the special features, was how normal it was. It was Christmas-themed, of course, and centered on Luke 2, but it was a normal service, with an invitation (a very unobtrusive one, like always), the standard format of the service, everything.

If you’d visited on Christmas Eve, and then showed up again in February, you’d see the same services. (Well, content would differ, of course…)

My church – at which I’m blessed to be – is very focused on the Christian mission, to be witnesses for Christ to all, without an overbearing approach.

Everything we do is Jesus-focused.

Our music is chosen to glorify God and not man – so some Christian music isn’t used, even though it might be good. A song that’s derived from Biblical sources might be excellent, but if it doesn’t point the listener to Jesus, it’s just not right for the church. There’s nothing the church has against something like that, but the church’s music itself is always focused on the One for whom the church exists.

Our messages, the sermons, are likewise focused. Our pastor is gifted in exhortation, but he doesn’t preach morals or social awareness without, again, focusing on Jesus. He does exhort us to act morally, but he does so in context of what the Holy Spirit wants us to do. At no point does he say we are to try to “be good,” a task which in Christianity is impossible without Christ anyway, but he tells us to follow Christ, which will lead us to do good things through Him.

Our church does things for the community, too; we put on a festival in late October, free to all, without burden of being forced into church – but many things at the festival were inviting nonetheless. Free food, of course, and the church band was playing for any and all to hear; the church invited attendees to take tours of the building to show them how geared we are for their benefit.

I know it sounds like it wasn’t all that low-key, but it was, from everything I’d heard. (I was on a business trip. I’d signed up to help, but the festival was delayed for rain and I had to fly out of town.)

That low-key yet consistent approach builds an undertone of service for the church that’s very effective for Christ, and effective for members as well. It makes me happy that God put us here, in this region, and in this church, that we could grow in Him and help others through that growth.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Shalom.

Originally published on December 26, 2011.

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