What would you list among the things that make life worthwhile?
Woody Allen's character in the movie Manhattan includes the following: Willie Mays, the second movement of the "Jupiter Symphony," Louis Armstrong, "those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne," and Groucho Marx.
Susan Griffin, poet and essayist, writes "feeding your grandchild small spoonfuls of yogurt (and ice cream). Trying to use another language. Walking in the woods. Cooking vegetables just pulled from your garden. Ice skating. Smelling a wood fire. Eating olives. Whistling. Growing old."
Consider the list of Bo Lozoff, prison reformer: "Learning how to build my house, plow the land, grow some food, get the stuck toast out of the toaster oven without getting electrocuted, fix my recliner without sending it back to La-Z-Boy, etc. Most Americans grow up long on concepts and short on skills. Human beings need to do stuff well. All kinds of stuff. That's a meaningful life."
My list would include walks with my wife, BBQ with the kids, photography, Monty Python, and Walleyball. Near the top of my list for a meaningful life would be one many would not list: the church. No, I don't say that because I'm paid to be a preacher. Yes, I do say that knowing many a spiritual person in this day and age seeks their inner life outside a church building and outside a church family.
But I'm sticking with it and all the imperfect people I've found there, including, of course, me.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven, of which a local church congregation is a part, is like a field of treasure so valuable that a man would sell everything he has to get it, or like a priceless pearl that would cause a merchant to do the same. Matthew 13:44-45.
Why is it that to me? Here's the quick list.
The church is family. Anywhere I go in the world I have relatives who will greet me with joy and help me even though we've never met. They also enjoy a good BBQ.
The church is purpose. The role of servant is valued highly in the church and I'm encouraged to do something for someone else at every turn.
The church is laughter. Laughter happens all the time, spontaneously, whenever Christians get together, perhaps because of the next item.
The church is hope. Pain and suffering and even death are part of a journey that the church believes it is helped in by God and that he is using to lead it home.
The church is worship. My heart longs for a place to be grateful and a fun way to say "Thank you!" with others.
The church is good news. It is the one place where I'm continually reminded of God and forgiveness.
So I ask again, What's on your list? What makes for a meaningful life in your eyes? If you've never considered the church community, you may just be missing a treasure.
Rick Cupp is the minister for Kenai Fellowship at Mile 8.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway. For more information, call 283-7682. Meeting times are Sunday Bible classes at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11:15 a.m.; Wednesday worship and Bible classes are held at 7 p.m.
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