In a recent email I received, the blog spoke about the difference between “going” to church and “being” the church. Today I witnessed firsthand what this means. If you are a Facebook friend of mine, you might already know what I’m talking about. My post today reads:
“Sometimes you go to church and get more than you ever expected. Today during mass me and my fellow Hospitality Ministers are told a homeless man is in the Bride’s Room asking for a ride to the bus station. After debating calling Uber for him, two of the male ministers offer to drive him there. We pitch in, buy him a bus ticket, get him donuts from our coffee and donuts ministry, and give him cash for the trip. Then as I’m driving away I see a bunch of school busses arriving and dropping off middle and high schoolers returning from a weekend retreat. I feel so grateful and blessed but all I did was witness, witness the virtues literally come alive before my eyes.”
Yep, I will say those two Hospitality Ministers know what it means to “be” the church. They know it and they stepped up and became it. So are all the chaperones and ministers who accompanied the teens on retreat.
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say “I don’t have to go to a church to be close to God or to pray.” That’s true, but more than likely when you go to church regularly your faith grows and so does your longing to be the church. It reminds of the sports coaching technique of “be the ball” and it’s kinds like being a member of a team and who wants to sit on the bench? This is good for the church and it’s good for you.
Studies show spiritual people and those who attend church are less likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, and be stressed. Sadly, a recent Family Circle poll showed nearly 40 percent of respondents “hardly ever” take time for spirituality with their family. America, we have a problem.
I’m well aware that not everyone who attends church lives a perfect life, I certainly don’t and I’m certainly a sinner, but like anything that keeps you in check, going to church has a way of also keeping you grounded and reminding you that you are accountable for your actions or even inactions. The homeless man today was what most of us would consider a “charity case,” but aren’t we all? Aren’t we all in need of the virtue of Charity, which is basically love?
Interestingly enough, the Biblical Greek word for grace is “charis,” from which we get the word charity. Grace is charity and it is through grace that God helps us. How many times have you said, “There but for the grace of God go I?”
“Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.”
Clare Booth Luce
In my Facebook post I wrote that I witnessed the virtues come alive. What are the virtues I wrote of? Virtues are basically good habits that enable someone to perform an action with ease. The virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love are famously contained in 1 Corinthians 13 and are considered God-given. The other virtues: Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance are acquired on our own and are developed through practice. You might say God gives us the first three and then watches as we put them to use through the other four. I saw virtually all of them today at mass. For that, I am grateful to have gone to church.
We are all busy and live crazy busy lives and I’m the first to admit no one loves to sleep in more than me. At the same time, churches can sometimes be intimidating if you haven’t been to one in a while, but give going to church a shot. Think about it, pray about it, and be about it. I think you’ll be glad you did.