Posts tagged “God

Church

Place of Worship

Church.

I go to one.

Church, that is.

I hear that going to church is becoming increasingly rare.  That’s according to the latest survey by Pew Research. They say the number of people going to church is dwindling.  Ok, they say it is dropping like a stone, actually.  The biggest drop off appears to be millennials, including millennials with young children.

I think that’s too bad.  I feel it is too bad mostly for reasons of faith and belief.  But there are practical reasons as well.

So for all the “nones” out there, even if you feel that church isn’t for you, I’d ask you to reconsider.

Let me give you three practical things you (and your children) can learn from going to church.  Or, for that matter, the mosque or synagogue.

First, at church you learn how to sit still for an hour.  This is an extremely practical skill.  It gets you ready for all those dreadful meetings and conference calls you will have to endure at work.  And for your children it is an absolute God send (pun intended). I teach a lot of kids and let me tell you, we’re losing the art of “sitting still.”

Sure, your kids are going to tell you that they are bored.  Hey, depending on what church you go to you might even be bored.  But haven’t you heard?  Being bored is a good thing.  In fact, all the latest studies show  that people’s besting thinking and creativity comes through boredom.

Go to church. Sit still. And yes, get bored. You’re best thinking depends on it.

Second, at church you learn the concept of giving and philanthropy.

In my faith we practice tithing or giving ten percent of our income.  This always leads to the question, “Is it ten percent of “gross” or ten percent of “net”? I don’t know the answer to that.  I do know that many boomers like me who were brought up in church saw Mom and Dad drop their envelop in the plate and were instructed at a very early age to do the same.

The idea of generosity, particularly for the poor and disenfranchised, is common across many faiths.  But church teaches you how to make this a habit, how to weave it into your lifestyle at an early age.

One of the many challenges charitable organizations face today is the decline of the institutional donor. The new generation of donors are “situational” donors.  That’s ok, but not great.  It is hard to imagine great organizations like Red Cross or American Cancer Society being built by situational donors. Church teaches you that you should give back and support causes even when there’s no earthquake in Haiti or drought in the Sudan.  That you should give all the time.  Regularly.  Dependably.  So that organizations that are doing good work can actually do good work.

Finally, church makes you think about big things.  At least it should. Mine does.

When I say big things, I mean really big things. Understanding good.  And bad.  Purpose. Meaning.  Destiny.  Love.  Sacrifice. Truth. Mortality.

Heady stuff.  Big stuff.  The most important stuff in life, really.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us would admit these aren’t the things we spend most of our time thinking about.  We spend most of our time thinking about whether we left the iron on.  Or something like that.  And we think about stuff a lot.  At work we recently did a national study on what people think about most.  At number one was “friends and family.” That’s encouraging.  But at number two – by a wide margin – was “money.”  People think twice as much about money and finances as they do about life’s meaning and purpose.

I think that is too bad. Understandable, but too bad.

Church helps correct that.  Every Sunday here come all those really big things again.  Origin. Purpose. Meaning. Morality. Destiny. Good and Evil. Truth. Mortality.

It isn’t that church is the only place where a person can learn how to sit still, practice philanthropy and search for meaning.  But its track record is pretty good on all three fronts.  And you might even stumble over some of that faith and belief stuff.

So think about it.

 

Place of Worship via flickr under creative commons 2.0

Thanksgiving

Thanks Google creative commons

 

Today is Thanksgiving.

Thank you!  But most of all, thanks for all those not-so-great things in my life and the people who love me in spite of them all.

I am reminded of how Jesus’ taught how NOT to give thanks.  Actually, he was teaching people how not to pray but I put praying and “giving thanks” in the same general category.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells the story of how this one guy in church “gives thanks.” It went sorta like this …

“Thanks, God, for making me such a great person.  It is not so much that you’ve made me handsome, smart, and wealthy, which you did (thanks for that!) but you’ve also made so good and kind and wonderful.  And you know what?  I am!  I love my family.  I give to charity.  I do good works.  So thanks, God.  Great job!”

Jesus wasn’t a fan.  He did, however, like an other guy’s “give thanks” prayer which went a bit like this …

“God, I’m a miserable, wretched, no good schmuck.  Every now and then I do something right but it is more luck or someone else’s grace than anything I can claim.  Thanks for giving me all the things I never deserved.  Thanks for being nice and kind, even when I was a jerk (which, I am sorta all the time because, well, I’m human).  So thanks, God.  I’m grateful for all the good things you give because it isn’t what I really deserve.”

So here’s to being thankful for all things I don’t deserve.  For all the people who did nice to me despite myself.

For all those folks at work, at worship and at play who put up with my insecurities, pettiness and biases.  People who should go screaming out of the door during lectures, rants and a host of poor decisions on my part.  But who stay, work incredibly hard, and make good things happen despite all I do to make it otherwise.

Thanks to my children, their husbands and my children’s children for loving and caring for me even through those times when I was distant and unavailable.  Perhaps even more, thanks for being loving, kind and tolerant when I get preachy and judgmental.  And thanks for loving and caring for each other far above and beyond anything that I could have been responsible for.

And thanks most of all to my wife.  Who continually overlooks my many, many faults –my bad habits, my stubbornness, my moodiness.  Who is there for me throughout the many business trips and late nights working at home.  Who – like my work colleagues – has daily moments where she would legitimately merit running out of the door screaming.  Who I am convinced loves me in spite of who I am and all the stupid things I do.

This is what, I believe, God gives to us.  The ability to give, forgive and love beyond measure, beyond merit, beyond reason.

But as importantly, it is the ability to recognize that we are blessed and are to be thankful not because of ourselves, but rather in spite of ourselves.

So thanks to all of you out there.

And thanks be to God who sacrifices of himself for all of us.