New Year…Fresh Start – Go to Church!!!

And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25, Common English Bible).

There is a quote that has floated around both online and on t-shirts. It says, “Don’t go to church. Be the Church.” When I first saw it, I confess, I liked it.” The more I have thought about it, however, the less I like it. In fact, it’s a lie.

I liked it because I just really saw the second half. I like the idea of us, all of us being the Church. We are called to be the Church. Of that, there should never be a doubt. The lie is in the idea that we can stop going to church and still be the Church.

Being the Church implies that we should go out and serve the world. And, without a doubt, we should. But, that is not, in and of itself, being the Church. If I want to serve I can do that through the Boy Scouts or the Lion’s Club or Habitat for Humanity or any other number of other organizations that serve the community and the world.

There is one thing the Church does that is not replicated by any other part of society. It isn’t service. It isn’t fellowship. It isn’t study. It isn’t even generosity. Many people are generous who are not Christian at all. What the Church does that is not done by any other part of society is worship.

Some would say that they can worship God without going to church. I used to agree by saying, “You can, but probably won’t.” I would still say, “If it were possible, you still probably wouldn’t but it isn’t even possible.” It isn’t possible because Christianity is not done in isolation. It is not a Lone Ranger religion. Christianity is a religion of God’s people, gathered together, having fellowship together, studying together, serving together and worshiping God together.

In order to be a faithful Christian you have to gather with other Christians. To be the Church, that service, it has to be with the Church, the Body of Christ, the people of God. You cannot love God and not love God’s Church, not love God’s people.

We are called to gather as God’s people. Our lesson above reminds us that we are to meet together, regularly with other believers.

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.” Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

So, I want to change that quite I opened with to say, “Don’t JUST go to church, be the Church. That is the life we are called to live.”

I will close by simply saying this, “Sunday is God’s Day. Get yourself to church. That is part of being the Church.”

Monday we will close out this series and we talk about an alternative to New Year’s Resolutions with an idea for an alternative for New Year’s Resolutions.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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