There’s a great scene in the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” where Neal Page played by Steve Martin tells John Candy’s character Del Griffith: “You know, when you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea: have a point. It makes it a lot more interesting for the listener.” It’s a great line and reminds me of something my dad would say. He’d often ask if I needed any stories or tips for my sermons. Of course I couldn’t use any of his bad jokes so he was no help there! I can remember him seeing which priest we had for mass and I could look at him and just tell by his heavy sigh whether the mass was going to be long or short. Ultimately what my dad was expounding in his sighs and eventually telling me as priest and preacher was “move it along and get to the point!”
Thinking of dad and getting to the point, I remember a time when I was flying to Florida for a learning retreat. I was in the middle seat and had two folks on either side of me. The man next to the window quickly put his plugs in and slept most of the flight. The other fellow and I exchanged some pleasantries and then he asked where I was headed and why. I told him that I was headed to Fort Lauderdale for a retreat. He subsequently asked: “What do you for a living?” I told him I was a pastor that I was headed for a renewal retreat for pastors of different denominations. My admission of being a pastor usually ends the discussion or it propels into something deeper and meaningful.
The guy, Dave, replied almost immediately: “My family and I have always attended church. It has been a very important part of our life as a family. Until recently, that is. So I asked the logical question: “Okay so, what happened?”
He replied that “All of a sudden we decided to have a family meeting. The kids growing up and having jobs and then having kids themselves and my wife and I having jobs and activities- life had become unmanageable. So we got together and talked about all the things we were involved in and did an audit.” I replied: “An audit?” Dave responded: “Yes, everyone was asked to list everything they’ve involved in and most importantly they were to share what they got from the activities. In other words, what did we gain from our work, activities, time with friends, church, etc?”
I asked him what happened. He replied: “Well, we no longer attend church. Apparently, of all that we have going on, attending church fed us the least.” Wow. That struck me. I didn’t judge. I just listened to Dave share all of this. I look back on this conversation as a great reminder to me as a pastor, preacher and disciple that there better be a point to it all.
So what is the point, dear friends? What’s the point of it all? Christianity? Faith? Forgiveness? Grace? What’s the point? There’s no easy answer to any of these questions but I do think belonging to the Body of Christ feeds us in ways we can’t describe, imagine or fully know. There is a wonderful song called “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective that includes these lyrics:
Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we’re made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit, come invade us now
We are Your church
We need Your power in us
You see, friends, there just might be a point to it all. Worship, belonging to a church- the Body of Christ- does feed and nourish us. Augustine, the great early Saint of the Church is attributed with saying “our hearts are restless until they rest in you O God.” We often find ourselves wondering what the point of anything is in our lives- work, bills, illness, masks, pandemics, burdens of child rearing, church, etc. The point of any worship is a WHO not a what. It’s always about Jesus. Mainline Christianity could do itself a favor to reclaim our roles as followers and not just fans of Jesus. Isn’t every Gospel story about what Jesus does for us? It’s about God’s incredible strength lifting us up to be Christ-bearers in this world! God’s whole point was love. Let that love feed your soul this day.
Here’s a link to “Build Your Kingdom Here:” https://youtu.be/sbdJXKqVgtg