earliest recollection of church was in my Saturday afternoon Catholic Catechism class as I prepared for my First Holy Communion. I loved church. I loved the smell of the incense-saturated walls; the stained glass and statues of the Holy Ones. I loved hearing about God's love for me, and Jesus and miracles and all the great stories of the Bible.
It was not all sweetness and light however, as we were solemnly warned that God...the God that loved me so much would send me to Hell for eternal damnation if I broke His laws. One of those laws, was "Thou shalt remember to keep Holy the Sabbath Day," i.e. go to church.
This caused me great concern over the years, as my family was one of the "Holiday Congregation." For the most part, we attended faithfully on Easter and Christmas, and of course weddings, baptisms, etc. and the rest of the year we worshipped at "St. Mattress."
As I grew, I became a regular church attendee, even walking to church on my own...even considering a church vocation...even as questions arose and began to become "irreconcilable differences." I sadly stopped attending church for six months. But something kept drawing me to return to church.
One day I found the church that was right and perfect for me. That does not mean it is the only "right" church. I have learned to focus on how we are alike, rather than how we are different. I see amazing beauty, truth and lessons in the traditions of all faiths.
The word "ecclesia" refers to a church or congregation. It's origin means "called." We are each called to a place to express our spiritual essence. We are called as individuals and a greater whole for the purpose of the unfoldment and manifestation of the Kingdom of All Good.
I discovered that in finding the church that was right for me, I had found the church that was in alignment with the Truth God had planted in my heart... my Spiritual Path. I discovered that I started to attend church, not to avoid going to hell, rather to stop living in hell, and I was becoming a better person, with a passion to be an agent of positive change in the world.
You too, will find that when the church you attend is in harmony with your belief system, you get up each Sunday...even on days it is challenging...and head out to pray and sing and worship with like-minded others. You will support it with your time, talent and tresasure. You will want to be an active participant, and tell others about the great church you attend.
Here are a few things to consider, and questions to ask yourself if you have questions about church:
Is the church mission, vision, values and core beliefs in alignment with mine ?
Do I feel Gods presence and love? Do I feel welcome?
Is the congregation loving and supportive?
Am I encouraged to "come up higher?
Am I comfortable with the prayer and worship?
Am I encouraged to participate and share my gifts?
I truly believe that regular attendance at the church of your choice will support you through life's challenging moments and add to your joy during the happy times. Your life will be happier, fuller and more meaningful. It will also provide you the priceless opportunity of making the world a better place as you learn, live and share God's love and light.