Jesus came that you may have life and not just life—abundant life!
One of my seminary professors use to say that Jesus breaks in to the monotonous, mind-numbing, tedium of everyday life and proclaims: there is more!
I think about that in terms of life in the church as well. There is life here at Zion, to be sure. There is abundant life here at Zion. Jesus still says to us—there is more.
Think back to the days two years ago when doors to church buildings closed all over the world. The first day we were able to step back into group settings, it felt odd. Too many people I “normally” saw at church were simply not coming.
Fast forward to May 2022. We are in full swing and back at it. Just this week, I met with a family who hadn’t come back to worship until that Sunday. They talked to me about not even realizing all they were longing for until they made themselves come back through the doors of Zion.
They also confessed that it was difficult to come back. They wanted to be back. But walking through the doors for the first time after all that time—was daunting. They told me that when they really looked at themselves, they realized they had formed a new habit. It was a habit they didn’t want for themselves or for their children: the habit of not coming to church. That had turned into the habit of just doing nothing on Sunday instead.
Habits work like that. They sneak into our lives. St. Paul has something to say about that in Romans, chapter 7:
I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
I’m wondering, have you adopted some habits throughout the restraints of Covid? Are some of them beneficial for you? Do you need to shed some of them?
Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do.” That has stood the test of time, hasn’t it? Let me push it further—have you thought about what you repeatedly do in terms of your engagement with Zion? Does it align with your hopes for your life? Does it align with God’s intention for you to have life abundant life in Christ?
Now to be sure for some the decision to stay away from church is a necessity and of course we want to find ways to be supportive of that.
I’m asking those of you who can be in worship but have formed a habit of not being in worship or a habit of not contributing financially or a habit of staying in the background. Are your habits in sync with who you say you are? Do they reflect the life of a child of God? Your answer may be yes, they do. And that is wonderful—praise be to God! But, if your answer is no, don’t let it be a habit that defines you.
There is so much excitement and so many good things happening at Zion right now. But we are still missing some of you. Have you let the habit of not coming, not being engaged, not contributing become your habit without even really noticing it? Because I think Warren Buffet is right on this one: the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
I don’t care if it has been 2 years or 15 years, now is the time to reengage, re-commit, and re-invest in Zion.
In Isaiah 43:19 God asks a question that is fitting for Zion today:
“I am doing a new thing; can you not feel it?”
Let me tell you:
- when parents tell me that their children ask every day if it is Sunday yet because they can’t wait to go to Zion for Sunday school
- when a high school students asks me if I know that he feels like he really belongs here
- when a stranger finds out I’m serving at Zion and says: “Oh, ya! I know that church, they do all kinds of good things in the community”
- when a middle school guy says “this place is beginning to feel just like home”
- when a widow tells me her grief has been cared for here
- when a teen-ager writes me a thank-you note because she is so happy that we have new youth directors
- when a parent says they can’t wait for 8:30 Sunday School to begin this Fall
- when the sanctuary steps are filled to bursting with little ones waving palm branches and singing with gusto
- when a staff member’s laughter rings throughout the halls
- when another meal is shared
- when someone says “sure, I can help”
How can I not perceive it?! There is life here and it is abundant.
But life won’t be fully abundant until even more people are re-engaged for mission and ministry.
I’m asking—have you looked at your habits lately? Do they align with who you say you are? Or do they align with that which is the path of least resistance? *
Ask the question: “Am I a part of this faith community and what does that truly, really, right down to the gut level mean to me?” Church membership isn’t only about what you need—it is also the truth—the absolute truth—that someone here may need you. Being a part of the community at Zion means you are needed. It means you are missed when you are not here.
What habits do you need to break and what ones do you need to form to be able to say, “yes, I am truly a part of Zion.” What better time to ask yourself?
For we are Easter people, and we are full of new life! Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed, Alleluia!
While ignoring your unhealthy habits may help you feel good initially,
that avoidance will eventually catch up to you.
When you don’t address the unproductive and
unhealthy things you’re doing alongside
your good habits, you’ll stagnate.”
*And btw, believe me when I tell you this is written from the perspective of one who has broken many an undesirable habit, only to let them creep back in; only to break them again, only to let them creep….you get the idea.