Blessings to You, WIN Community:
We have decided to invite guests from the WIN community to provide Sunday messages from time to time. This week, we are blessed to have a message from Reverend Bob Miller, retired pastor of the United Church of Christ from Buffalo and Sheridan. Bob is a member of the On Sacred Ground Team. Thank you, Reverend Miller, for your beautiful message. I am sharing it here:
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! Psalm 84:1
Churches shift to a summer schedule; one service instead of two. There’s room for everyone because not as many people are expected to show up for worship in the summer. Summer worship starts a little earlier so that worshippers can spend the rest of their day doing summer things like mowing the lawn, gardening or going to the mountains. Some regular worshippers never show up in the summer because they are already off doing summer things.
It’s not unusual for those missing summer worshippers to state that they don’t need church to find God. “We find God in the beauty of the earth,” they might say. And they do!
Some God seekers say they don’t go to church because they can’t find God there. They reject “organized religion” because it seems too doctrinal, evangelistic, political and hypocritical. They prefer to experience God in their communion with nature. And they are right!
For some it is the organization of religion that misses the spontaneity of the mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit. Any attempt to organize or control spirituality restricts God to limits of the design of worship. Better to open worship to the unlimited design of divinity. The whole earth is sacred ground. Why seek God at an altar made by human hands?
Yes, we may experience the divine on the mountaintop, or in the flower garden or at the foot of a waterfall but something else is missing. Those people missing from worship are church are missing a vital community that the beauty of the earth does not provide. They miss congregational singing that draws diverse people into harmony. They miss the teaching that might challenge their narrow theological interpretation. They miss the offertory by which they can participate in social missions that promote the blessings of God’s continuing creation of a perfect world. They miss the fellowship with people who may disagree. They miss the routine that ensures concentration on holiness. They miss the organization.
Deep spirituality requires “mountaintop time” when awesome beauty and the sheer power of nature advance human awareness of divine presence. It also requires some organization by which spiritual awareness translates into sacred living.
With Gratitude and Peace ... and Resolve to Make a Difference,
Susie Markus, Ph.D.