Today's Lectionary Text
1 John 1: 5-7This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Before we begin, take a look at this video, from Belgrade Ave. UMC in Mankato, Minnesota:
If you’re a TV sitcom fan, you recognize the music as the theme song from “Cheers,” which ran from 1982 to 1993, about a bar in Boston. The people frequenting the watering hole, and the bar’s staff, were all from various walks of life. This gathering place was what they all had in common.
The “Cheers” theme song even made it to radio airplay in 1982. Reruns have truncated the theme song to just the chorus, but here are the lyrics for the theme to “Cheers”:
Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn't you like to get away?
All those nights when you've got no lights
The check is in the mail
And your little angel
Hung the cat up by its tail
And your third fiance didn't show
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name
Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee's dead
The morning's looking bright
And your shrink ran off to Europe
And didn't even write
Be glad there's one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came…
Read those lyrics again, and instead of thinking about Sam, Coach, Woody, Cliff and Norm at a bar in Boston, think about your church.
“Everybody knows your name?” “They’re always glad you came?” “Our troubles are all the same?”
Is this how we approach worship? Do we give people a sense of belonging?
As a college journalist, I was doing a story on why students choose to drop out of college. I interviewed the dean of students, who also happened to be the father of one of my closest friends.
He contended that students didn’t drop out of college because their grades were low, or they were overwhelmed by homework, or they missed their family and friends back home. The reason they dropped out was because they didn’t feel like they belonged.
Belonging is big in college. It’s why some flock to fraternities or sororities, and some get involved in activities from marching band to college theater to the homecoming parade committee. (Me? Guilty on the latter three charges.)
Is the sense of belonging evident in our churches and the way we treat people there? Are we telling people who walk in the door that they belong? Or do we tell them that they’re in our way, blocking our view, or sitting in their pew? The more we can make people feel like they belong, the more they will want to belong, and the more we can see God’s kingdom coming more clear in this world.
And we’ll go where everybody knows your name.
*Devotion originally posted 5/12/2021
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