A few weeks ago, Lakeridge held its yearly congregational meeting to remember what the congregation has done in the past year and to begin planning for the year to come. The difficult thing about the democratic process that is used in meetings like this one is that everyone has an opinion, but not every opinion will get carried out. So it should be no surprise that there was some heated dialogue during the meeting. As people were leaving after the meeting I was aware of how much passion and anger there was in this congregation who I have known to be a people of great kindness. I pulled out of the church parking lot that day wondering what would happen next week, seriously concerned that some of the faces that I have come to expect, appreciate and love would not be there.
But then there was this miracle. It was a miracle called church, because when I did show up the next week those faces were there. Despite how things had gone the week before; all the faces had come back. In that moment I realized how important the regular gathering of the saints is.
Our contemporary American culture is highly individualistic. The city of Seattle itself is a good representation of this larger societal trend. Maybe that is why church attendance is so low out here in the Northwest. The church is at its best a living antithesis to the individuality of our culture. It is a community of people who gather together to demonstrate their faith in the God they believe in. It is a group of people who pray together, eat together, read together, play together. It is a group of people who continue to gather together even when there is strife between individuals. It is a group that believes one’s individuality can only be found in belonging to others.
Returning to church week after week is hard particularly when there has been hurt. It is a good practice to maintain in a time when there are few enduring communities and relationships. If it hasn’t already been said I am proud of my congregation because they came back and decided to still be a community.