Years ago, maybe the spring before I left for seminary, Father Brian (our rector at the time) told a story about a conversation he once had with his barber. His barber asked him, "Why go to church at all?" I can't remember Brian's answer, but I haven't forgotten the question. It's a question we all need to grapple with--not once but often in our lives as individuals and as a community of faith. I suspect that each of us will come up with different answers to that question. I know that my answers have changed over the years. Maybe yours change too.
Like many young adults, I wandered far from church. It had no hold on me and little to offer. Or so I thought. Until I needed solace. Until I needed peace. Until I needed an hour in the pew. An hour away from all that was eating at my soul. The moment would pass and I would return to my busy life never really wondering what might feed my soul. Never really even thinking about my soul.
"Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name."
A seed was planted. I began to yearn for something more. Something more than solace. Something more than peace. More even than community. In retrospect I'd say I was yearning to be part of the Body of Christ. That's why I go to church. Worshipping together, working together on committees, cleaning up the church, weeding the garden, serving at St. Martin's, living out our faith one challenge, one delight, one awkward moment at a time is how we grow into the Body of Christ we are called to be.
I don't remember the words or examples Brian used in answering that question "Why church", but I do remember the core of his answer--"You can't be a Christian on your own; Christianity is not a solitary sport."