Why Do I Come To Church?

Reflection from Good Shepherd member, Scott Baker

Why do I come to church?  This may be surprising, but I’m not a “church guy.”  At least, I don’t consider myself a church guy.

When I was a child, the only time I went to church was when we visited my grandparents in Laconia, NH.  My grandmother, my great grandmother, and my Aunt would attend the service and my sister and I would get sent down to the basement to hang out and play in the Sunday School.  I had a crush on one of the girls there; so that was OK…even if it was only once or twice a year.

Another thing I enjoyed about church as a child with my grandparents was the coffee hour after church.  We would get a slice of cake some cookies and some punch.  Nice treats.  Just as big of a treat was the way my aunt and grandmother would call my sister and I over to show us off to their friends and church family.  Always with pride over some accomplishment or just the joy that we were visiting for the week.

I went to a boarding school for High School and chapel was required twice a week,  Once on Thursday mornings more of a school assembly with a short temple talk or moral message.  The more religious service was on Sunday night after dinner and before study hall.

I had joined the school’s chorus so I sung in the choir and later became a member of the vestry.  Services were in an old stone chapel moved from England to Connecticut and assembled stone by stone in the late 1800s.  It was in part through these experiences and then traveling with the chorus through East and West Germany visiting gothic churches familiar to Bach, Handel and Schutz that I chose to be baptized and confirmed my junior year.

I lapsed attending church during my college and early adult years.  Young, invincible and free in the big city, I also didn’t need a building to help me maintain my faith in God.  In hind site, despite all my education and independence, I was lost…or at least always searching.  Open to temptation, experience and my own ego.

Then one July day well night, (as many of you may know) I met a woman at a party.  She sang in the choir and in the contemporary service band here at Good Shepherd.  And despite my assertions of not being a church guy nor the marrying type, we’ve now been married for over 8 years, and I have been a member at GS for close to 15.  And I have volunteered my time and my talents in the choir, on the council, and even here assisting by the altar.

Sometimes, I come to church, “just in case.”   We are taught that we have already been forgiven.  So do I need to come to church every week to get to heaven?

“…vanities of vanities.  All is Vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1)  “He will come again, to judge the living and the dead.”  Sound familiar?

I try to live my life guided by the Golden Rule.  I know I am not perfect or always behave perfectly.  I spend much of my time on construction sites; so I know many people who sin, way more boldly than I.  But if I were to list the 7 deadly sins or the ten commandments I can probably say I need some absolution after this past week.  I’ve eaten to much; probably lost my temper; I can hold a grudge; and I can be selfish and materialistic.  I often wonder why I am not more successful, despite my obvious intelligence and charm.  On the drive over here this morning I thought I was running late; so, I probably took the Lord’s name in vain.  If magazine statistics are correct, due to my gender I think an impure thought every 8 minutes, or is it 8 seconds?

My wife and I kiss and say we love each other every we time we leave the house apart – even if just to go for a walk or run to the store. It seems a little silly to me sometimes, but she asks me how I would feel if something happened to one of us while apart and we didn’t.  We do it “just in case.”

So I started coming to Good Shepherd for “the girl.”  And I continue, “just in case.”

But I’ve kept coming back here because of you.  For me it is not the church, but the congregation.

My gifts, my talents, my prayers, and my blessings when combined with yours are stronger.

If a violin plays a note in an orchestra it makes a beautiful sound, but combine it with another violin playing the same note, it is amplified.  Include other instruments or other notes and you have harmonies, melodies and a concert.

But of course you need that place to practice, to learn and share new music, and to be retuned.  That place for me is here.  I like our style here.  It’s not intimidating.  It just feels like family gathered around piano.

When I leave here today, my spirit will be reenergized to meet the challenges of the week.  A song or a prayer or a lesson will remain in my heart and the back of my mind to keep my soul in tune for the rest of the week.  It will resonate stronger because we shared it together.  And I’ll come back next week to get retuned and well you know, “just in case.”

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