I have heard the avid hunter say that he or she finds God in the woods. I have heard the avid golfer say that he or she feels the peace of God on the back nine. I have heard the avid fisherman say that he or she feels divine transcendence bass fishing on the lake. In other words, who needs church when theologically speaking, God is and can be found everywhere. There is a recent article from the Lexington Herald Leader that provoked me to write this blog about church-going and whether it is necessary or not in order to be a Christian. The link to the article referenced is at the bottom. I invite you to peruse it.
The author of the article lays out a disclaimer and I would like to as well before going any further. First, I have nothing against golfers, hunters, or fishermen. I consider myself one of the three and I have many friends and family who belong to one or more of the three. Second, I do not believe that church-going is the only or ultimate defining action of a Christian. In other words, those who don’t go to church on a regular basis are by no means ‘not Christian.’ After all, to use our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry’s words, Jesus didn’t come to start a church. Jesus came to start a movement and the church was born out of that movement, but that movement is so much more than just going to church. That movement is a way of life, not only surrounded by the four walls of a church on Sunday, but that movement is out in the world where there are no walls.
However, the Church is the catalyst for that movement that Bishop Curry describes. Therefore, I do want to talk about two things found in Church that the golfer won’t find on the golf course, the hunter won’t find in the woods, and the fisher won’t find on the lake: the Eucharist and the Body of Christ. These two elements separate the Church from any other club or organization. It is what makes the Church unique. It is the reason I go to church (other than collecting a paycheck). It is why going to church should be a priority because you will not find these other elements anywhere else. You have to go to church in order to participate in the body of Christ and receive the Eucharist. Again, participating regularly in these two elements does not make one more of a Christian than another, but I would argue that a mature Christian faith and practice stems from regular participation in the body of Christ and receiving the Eucharist. Simply put, a mature Christian and a mature Christian faith and practice is nurtured, sustained, and flourishes by going to church.
As fish are found in water, deer found in the woods, and frustrated golfers on the golf course, the body of Christ, which is the Church, the community of worshiping believers, along with the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord, cannot be found anywhere else. I invite you, the one who dares to read my thoughts, to be a part of the body of Christ and participate in the Eucharist here at the Chapel of the Cross.