“The Blessings of Church Attendance!”
One doesn’t need confirmation to what the eye can see. Church attendance is in decline and it’s not only at St. Peter’s in East Peoria or with Lutherans, but across the American religious board Church attendance is declining nationally at a rate of 1% less Americans worship annually. One might point to growing ‘non- denominational type churches,’ but that’s because 80-90% of their worshipers came other churches, and the very slight increase in attendance in those churches really don’t alter the facts of the decline in American weekly church goers. Instead of cursing the darkness, I will light a candle.
T.M Luhrmann, professor of Anthropology at the University of Stanford wrote an interesting OP ED for the New York Times. She objectively speaks of the benefits of regularly attending worship, for example
-Boosts the immune system.
-Decreases blood pressure
-Adds two or three years to one’s life.
-Allows physical healing to be more effective.
-Worshipers assist others in all sorts of financial, emotional and physical stresses and concerns.
-Worshipers also care more about social concerns than those who don’t attend worship.
-Church goers do less harmful drugs, smoke less, drink less and are less sexually promiscuous.
-Worshipers have larger caring social networks
-Church goers tend to have better overall health.
While that may not seem shocking, but it does affirm the blessings of sins forgiven and being in touch with our Savior and that is one of many reasons why the Psalmist cries out, “Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” God protects and demands worship in His Third Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it Holy.” Luther adds the comments, “so that we do not despise the Word of God, but gladly cherish, hear and learn it.” In the Old Testament under Israel’s theocracy, offenders of the Sabbath law may be stoned (Not the Colorado type). It is in worship where God renewed His eternal covenant and blessed one to faithfully live in that covenant. As God promises in worship we encounter Christ with His means of grace, ‘Baptism, The Word, and The Lord’s Supper,’ where God redeems and enables us to live a godly life. While one can pray at home and feel close to God on a beautiful Sunday morning on the lake, one can’t hear a Law and Gospel sermon, hear the absolution spoken directly to them and sing a hymn/song that sings faith into their hearts unless they’re in worship. Luther’s Small Catechism warns and admonishes the danger of those who don’t believe they need the Lord’s Supper. Beginning this month, February 14 through April 1 and no fooling, there are many worship services, where worshipers not only receive the blessings of the previous mentioned blessings, but grow closer to the Lord and others. An identifying Mark of a Christian is that they worship publically. So “Let’s not give up the habit of worshiping together.” In Christ, Pastor Mews.