Last week, I wrote about something that I described as needing to be more than said, it needs to be lived. I was talking about Jesus reminding the disciples that we are all light for the world and we should let our light shine for others (Matthew 5:14-16).
So I'll just say it again: you are light so let it shine. I know it sounds like a song - it is - but it's truth. We are all light for others in some way.
The words themselves are pretty meaningful, but it's only in living them into action that they have their power. I even had some specific examples from our community. It seems kind of obvious to say this, but that's where the words come to life, isn't it? When we see them in action, particularly when we see them in action in a way that is personal, connected to us in some way.
There's an international movement called Back To Church Sunday that sets aside a Sunday towards the end of September to encourage people to go to church. At our church it's September 28, but it varies. I think it's an awesome idea, although I wonder if it shouldn't just be called Go To Church Week. After all, if we're trying to be progressive and encourage people to remember that church isn't just about Sunday morning, it could be anytime during the week. And "Back" to church implies you've been before and lots haven't. Or that we need to get "Back" to where the church has been in the past and that's not really helpful to anyone, if you ask me.
Of course, I could be over thinking that.
In any case, I think it's a great idea because it suggests that people who attend church - on whatever day of the week - should invite others to join them and that should mean being able to answer the obvious question anyone would ask when you invite them: why?
Good question. And I'm really not trying to be silly when I say, can you answer it?
See, I think people often find it a challenge to clearly articulate why attending a church is important to them. I also think the answer lies in the Word becoming action in our lives, that what we do when we gather for church can only be "church" if we go out and live it.
That Sunday that we celebrated new stained glass in our church and our theme was from Matthew 5 (we are light for the world, let your light shine), we began together with these words: "All creation is made sacred by the presence of God. In the great vastness of creation we have set aside this one small space in which we gather, that we make sacred by creating it with God, decorating it with God and being present with God. We come in here that we may thank God and talk to God and learn how we might best live out there, in the world.
"We are the salt that flavours the world; we are light to enlighten the world. We are the hands of Jesus in the world.
"This, Jesus teaches us. This, Jesus shows us. And so we will learn, we will share, we will live. Our world is a feast for the senses, a riot of colour and sound, a confusion of opinion and thought. But in this we are one: we are all children of God."
We are all children of God. When the words we share and preach and learn together become action, when we engage all of creation, including all the children of God around us, in living in a right and just relationship, that's when going to church becomes being church.
Yes, those are still just words. But if those words speak to you or have some meaning for you, it will be because you have a story to tell of them being lived out for you. Share your story. Let your light shine. Tell it, and inspire others to experience what it really means to be church.