Why Church? I’m Spiritual, Not Religious
When asked about God or religion, many people today will say that they believe in God but not in ‘organized religion’; and that they are ‘spiritual’, but that they don’t really need to be in a church to pray.
Of course, it is true that we can pray without a church building, written and memorized prayers, a professional pastor or even a group of people. You can certainly have a wonderful time of prayer walking in the woods, sitting on the beach or even on the golf course (though, let’s be honest, this is less likely chasing the little white ball…).
And as you might, we also believe that God is present everywhere and always. By yourself, you certainly can have a relationship with God, but it will be only two-dimensional. As Christians, we believe that only by participating in a community of faith can we have multi-dimensional relationships with God. Jesus explicitly called us to be in relationships with one another as part of being in relationship with Him. So the organized church remains central to how God works in our lives. Worship at church helps us to re-focus our attention on God’s presence and grace in our lives, in our community and in the world around us. The church community supports our spiritual life during good times and bad – at our best and at our worst.
At church we also learn about the spiritual skills and attitudes which can open us to the mystery and wonder of God. At church we are connected to the wisdom of generations of Christians. We come because life is difficult. We come because life is beautiful. We come in gratitude.
Here are some examples of how we believe the Church is essential to the Christian life:
Awareness of God’s Presence
It is essential to know that we all have within us the presence of the peace of God, which we can access anytime. In other words, Christians see this inner peace as the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within us all. St. Paul explains this as the riches of God’s glory, which is the mystery hidden from ages and generations. It is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” (1 Colossians 1:27) “It is in this experience of the presence that will bring all people into one in Him.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) Look for the spiritual beyond the physical; listen with a sense of wonder, not judgment. Psalm 46, verse 10 reads: “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is in the stillness that we can find peace; after all, we were created as human beings, not human doings!
Worship and Prayer
Worship and prayer are opportunities for us to reconnect with God anywhere and anytime. Our goal is not to attempt to eliminate the stresses or events that distract or trouble us, but to limit the power of those negative energies to distract us. It is our acting upon the reality that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ and relying on that relationship which gives us strength and hope.
Dealing with Difficult Events
Difficult events and calamities can provoke an entire range of emotional reactions from us. Yet, events do not determine feelings. We can be victims of events or we can rise above them. Epiphany (the revealing of Jesus in our lives and the world about us) is about seeing the same thing in a different way, not just seeing a new thing, and not seeing a new thing in the same old way.
One of the great challenges for all Christians is trying to know what God’s plan or direction is for us. Throughout the New Testament, we see God revealing that plan not primarily through individuals but through the Christian community, and that remains true even today. Finding God’s will for our lives is never a solitary pursuit. If we are willing to humble ourselves (never an easy shift!), we can admit that we need the community of the church as both our foundation and our guide. In doing so, we have the immeasurable benefit of being free to rely on accumulated communal wisdom, and not only on our own perceptions and judgments.
Dealing with Grief and Bereavement
We face a variety of times of grief and bereavement in our lives. The death of a loved one, divorce, loss of employment or home, natural disasters, and transitions in life mean both gain and loss and even the happy transitions can bring painful adjustments. In all of this, it is God’s design that we support and care for one another in Christian community.
Reading the Bible
The Bible has been called “a road map,” “a love letter from God” and “the Word of God,” as well as “bewildering” and “out of date.” As one of our Collects (prayers) states, we are to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the Bible to grow in our faith. Yet most of us find it difficult to understand and apply the teachings of the Bible to our lives. This is where the gift of Christian community comes in. While private study and reflection is essential, so is the life of the Christian community as we seek to understand and apply the Bible in our lives.
Reaching beyond ourselves is essential to our having a complete spiritual life. Loving our neighbor, stranger, and enemy complete the commandment to love God. But as with so many other areas of life, these are best pursued within the context of shared community life. The church remains God’s primary tool for our engagement with the needs of the world around us.
Dealing with Difficult Situations
Within every crisis, there is always an opportunity to develop spiritually. During these times, we may have moments of clarification of priorities and human relationships, and of our relationship with God. Look for them; use them to grow and get better and stronger than before. Pray. Stay in community.
Why St. John’s?
You might expect to read some sort of “sales pitch” in this space, but that is not our purpose, online or in person. Our intent is to invite you to experience the community of St. John’s, not to ‘sell’ you a program or a package. We believe that St. John’s is a palpably holy place, and that by gathering there in community we very regular people are lifted up as we try to do our best to live out our faith. In the spirit of that faith, we seek to help each person, including you, in their journey toward God. If we can be helpful to you, we would be thrilled for you to visit, worship and, perhaps join this small part of the “Body of Christ.”
If you are looking for certain specific information, we hope that you will find the answers and details by further exploring this website. Otherwise, please call the church office at 321-254-3365 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And may God continue to bless you, this day and for evermore, Amen.