30 January 2015

Churching in my neighbourhood

My ideal church is one I can walk to. Even as much as I find theology (and denomination) important and I deeply value the concern that the church has for those within the church and their neighbourhood, I want to find these two important aspects of being church within my local neighbourhood. As unrealistic as this might sound to those of us living in North America, I was blessed in being able to walk to church for the last 15 years of my life (five of those were in Grand Rapids).

Things have changed, and I now work beside the church I attend. Living beside work is not great for a healthy work/life balance, I prefer living in the neighbourhood of the students who participate in the ministry, and I really appreciate the bike ride to work during the snow-free time of year. It seemed obvious that our current neighbourhood was a good fit, and I'm growing to love it more all the time (after all, do you have a community center only 20 minutes walk away that offers cheap ballroom dance lessons?). At the same time, I miss churching in my own neighbourhood.

Fortunately, we live a block away from a Catholic church and several blocks away from an RCA church, a sister church to my denomination: the Christian Reformed Church. Churching in my neighbourhood is thus very do-able, and I can even do both churches on a Sunday morning :)

The other week, Matthijs and I thus churched in our neighbourhood. I was impressed by the sermon given by the priest. He dared bring up pornography in the sermon, pointing out the damage and pain it caused in so many relationships and how it was not limited to one gender or age group. He even acknowledged that this was an area that he himself had struggled with. After the service in the Catholic Church, we walked to the Reformed Church where we joined in a concert of prayer. We were warmed by the welcome we received, and it was a delight to see how so many people were encouraged to participate in the prayers and the whole service. I thus thoroughly delighted in churching in our own neighbourhood; and yet, I wouldn't want to do it always: it would mean missing out on catching up with those I love in my own church.

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