The other day, I was thinking about the number of services of worship I’ve attended on Sunday mornings since I was confirmed in 1956. I added it up, and I’ve attended at least 2,976 services of worship since 1956. That’s a staggering number! And, if you add in all the special services I’ve attended, weddings, funerals, and Presbytery meetings, etc., it would be another two or three hundred more. Wow! That’s amazing when you think about it! That’s a lot of time spent in church. I’m sure there are many of you in the congregation who can match those numbers. The question becomes, why have we spent so much time in church? What’s the draw? For me, the obvious answer is that it’s my job. But like you, I go for a variety of reasons: the music, the hymns, the community/fellowship, the sermons, and the celebration of the sacraments. More important, worship nourishes me, enlivens me, enriches me, and nudges me. It is in the context of worship that I am put in touch with the Divine, the God who names me and claims me and promises to be with me throughout all my days. At my confirmation, I promised, in front of God and the congregation of Wilshire Crest Presbyterian Church, that I would be a faithful member of Christ’s church. I promised to share the Gospel wherever I went and continue to grow in the faith throughout my life. At our confirmation, we received a little book by The Rev. Hugh T. Kerr, who was for many years pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. The book was published by the Board of Christian Education of the PCUSA in 1920. The language was true when we received our copies in 1956, and its message is still applicable today. Dr. Kerr is writing about loyalty to Christ’s church and he ends by saying:
“It is my church. It needs me. It needs my service
more than it needs my money. I should not think of
allowing my family to miss me at my own table, without
explanation; neither will I allow my church to
miss me unexcused from my appointed place. The
church cannot live and thrive and hold up its head if
the people neglect the appointed services for worship.
To absent myself from my church is to prove a traitor
to my own trust and to strike the church I love the
most unkind blow I can strike.”
His powerful words have stuck with me. They aren’t trendy by 21st century standards, but they still strike a chord none-the-less. I trust they do for you, too. May we continue to be faithful to Christ’s church all our days.
From Pastor Kent’s Desk
Grace & Peace, Kent