Sociologists propose there are two main reasons why people are part of religious communities. The first reason is because it is part of living out their faith. The second reason is because faith communities offer people a source of belonging and social support. The first reason, living out one’s faith, is why I became a pastor. I have to go to church! But many people go for the second reason. When churches are operating as they should, when they are communities of social support, encouragement, and comfort, they can be wonderful places to be regardless of someone’s beliefs.
Cathy and I are preaching a sermon series titled “Glimpses of the Kingdom” at the small, rural church we pastor. Even though we shared Jesus’ words to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” during the series, the people in our church don’t like to draw attention to themselves. So. I’m going to share just some of the “glimpses of the Kingdom” I saw from them in the last few days. I am sure there are many, many more.
-Someone who just started attending bringing a case of Kerig coffee pods to share.
-A member getting a ride from someone in the church when they discovered they had a flat tire Sunday.
-When a caterer backed out of serving a funeral meal for over 70 people, members of our church stepped up and provided food.
-People who are recovering from surgery and illness coming to be there when it would have been more comfortable to stay home.
-A small group who went to a local nursing home to celebrate Valentine’s Day with residents through song, cards, chocolates, and heart necklaces.
-A person who stepped up to be our worship leader on Sunday morning.
-The way people love on the two children who were there. After our congregation sang “Happy Birthday” to a little girl a couple weeks ago, she exclaimed “This is the best birthday ever!”
-People bringing cookies and treats to share—every week.
-Our ushers warmly greeting people as they come in and wishing them well when they leave.
-A person taking 10 wooden crosses to a friend to share at her church because the cross our church member gave her at a time of great loss was so meaningful.
-I caught a glimpses of the Kingdom in the laughs, smiles, handshakes, and hugs too many to count.
Of course, as a pastor I love the way people worship and pray for others during our services. I love being a part of a Bible study. That is why I am a pastor. But I know it is the “glimpses of the Kingdom” people see when they support each other in our church that brings most of them back on Sundays.
Our church is not perfect. People get hurt here too. But when we are at our best, we are God’s family, a family I wish everyone had.