Psalm 22:25 (Common English Bible)
I offer praise in the great congregation because of you; I will fulfill my promises in the presence of those who honor God.
"Why do we have to go to church today?"
As our children grow up, these words come from the sleepy ones who stayed up too late on Saturday night and are having trouble getting out of bed. Honestly, we all feel that way from time to time. I have heard people say their Christian walk is personal, between them and God, and that they don’t really have to go to a building with other people to commune with God.
Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing the basic tenets of the Christian faith with our young confirmands, those preparing to become professing members of our church. We have talked about the private and public worship of God and how we live out our faith, privately and publicly. While much of what we do to grow our faith is considered private or devotional, our growth as a community is also crucial to our faith.
For example, as individuals, we can read our Bibles, have quiet prayer time, confess our sins, fast and show compassion by helping others, and we should do all those things as an expression of our Christian faith. Those are ways to grow our personal faith in Christ, and they are vital to living a devoted Christian life. But, when we come together as a community of faith, something happens to us, collectively, that we cannot accomplish on our own.
When we confess our sins as a community, we are confessing that we do not always live in public ways that honor God and provide for the needs of the community. When we sing as a congregation, we join our voices with saints, past and present, to glorify God in joyous song.
Think of what God, our audience, hears when we join our voices together in praise.
And, while we can work by ourselves for the relief of suffering of a few people, when we work as a community of faith, we can be God’s agents of justice as we work to make conditions better for an entire group of people.
So we are called to both the private and public worship of God.
How are you living out your call to personal and communal discipleship? ?
The Rev. Jan McCoy. associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church. can be reached at email@example.com or at www.covingtonfirst.org.