Why Church? And why St. John’s?
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…).
We believe that God is present everywhere and always. By yourself, you certainly can have a relationship with God, but it will be lacking. We each imagine God based in the images already in our minds, from childhood, families, friends, TV, and even our own reading and study. Here at St. John’s we find that sharing these together adds tremendous dimension and depth to our experience of God, and multiplies our joy and wonder as we come to know and serve God more fully. So while the organized church can be frustrating, and even off-putting, it remains central to how God works in our lives. God created us for community, not solitude, and we experience God best in community.
At church we also learn the spiritual skills and attitudes which help open us to the mystery and wonder of God. At church we are connected to the wisdom of generations of Christians. As we join in songs, prayers, actions and service that have guided and rooted Christians for ages, we share the wisdom and experience of so many who have gone before.
Here are some examples of how we believe the Church is essential to the Christian life:
Awareness of God’s Presence
We all have within us the presence of the peace of God, which we can access anytime. Christians see this inner peace as the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within us all. Jesus prayed that we would know the glory of being one with Him and one with one another. “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:22) Jesus also promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
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. We find that gathering with others for worship and prayer helps shape and deepen our own private prayer.
Struggle and Change
Life presents us with many challenges, some joyful, some difficult and some devastating. But these do not have to define us. When we walk with God and with others, we can face all these life challenges better. It really is true that happiness shared is multiplied and sorrow shared is divided. 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 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.
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 holy place, and that by gathering here 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.