Relationships Over Rituals

From the Pastor’s Study - September 2019: Rev. C. Richards

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel - God reaching out to mankind

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel - God reaching out to mankind

The command be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He [God] is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale ) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.

From C.S. Lewis’ course on daily faith for the everyday human – Mere Christianity

Have you ever invited someone to church?

When I invite someone to worship – what am I inviting them to? Because coming into worship without any knowledge of what is going on might be intimidating. And worse – Worship isn’t usually designed to teach us about what we are doing. Instead, worship is a time to be reminded of the truth of God and God’s promises. It is the time to be re-commissioned, to re-receive our marching orders. We are to go out and bring others into the presence of Jesus. God is looking to draw all of humanity into Christ and Christ into all of humanity who will allow him to save them. Inviting someone to church doesn’t really accomplish that goal at all. It just gets them to the building. But will they know what we are up to? Or is it easier to just invite someone to worship and hope it does the trick?

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Weekly, in the forgiveness of sins and the praise we give God for that forgiveness we wipe clean the slate. Next we hear the word of God and someone takes the time to bring that word to life in the context of our lives – preaching. Usually it is the pastor – but sometimes it is a volunteer or a lay person. Then after hearing how God and God’s word is alive now in our lives, with examples from the present – we pray for God’s people and for all people and the whole world. Finally, we receive the sacrament of the bread and wine – Jesus coming down and becoming (and re-becoming) a part of our physical body. We thank God for the gift and then go on our way back out into God’s world to share his abundant life with the world.

All the while our old self, the old selfish individual is being daily defeated by Christ, and the new self is being daily created by Christ, until one day we see God face to face and are just as C.S. Lewis described above – perfect. This is what we are caught up in. This is the goal. This is all of what Christianity is. We are being made into the image of Christ, perfected as our true selves, and in the midst of that, sent out into the world for the sake of Christ who desires to save all of us who will allow him in.

So – when we invite someone to join us in the faith journey – I wonder – would it be better to invite them to dinner? Better to invite them to join us for coffee, or come to a bible study, or maybe even go fishing or build something together? Faith can be, and ought to be, present in our friendships and daily life. If what God is working on is our awe-inspiring re-creation, don’t we want that for our friends too? Don’t get me wrong – its fine to invite a friend to Church – please do – but first, be a friend! Show them the ropes! Show them love and honest care – and then invite. We are forming relationships that will end in their perfection and abundant life! Isn’t that worth it?

Christ’s Peace to you! PrCR