We are encouraged to tithe/support our local church, especially if we donate to larger, international organizations. Local church usually translates to the church we attend, but what if we took it to mean the church closest to our house?
We had a Polish Orthodox Church a block from our house where I grew up. As Catholics we were allowed in and I remember attending a half dozen times over the years, but our parish church, while still in walking distance, was all I ever knew as a home base. Of course the Lutheran Church next to my great aunt’s house might have been a mosque for all the mystery it represented. I finally snuck in as a teenager, after hours, but couldn’t imagine what went on in there.
As an adult searching for our local church has proven problematic, especially as we’ve moved cross country several times. We’ve attended a mega-church that packed in 5,000 people every Sunday, a start up church that rented space in a mall, a family based group that stayed family size for over twenty years, and just last week we ‘discovered’ a meditative group of Christians that meet for psalms, vespers, and silent prayer a block and a half from our house.
What could be more local than a few Frisbee throws from our front door? We were welcomed, naturally, as ‘newcomers’ in a way I thought might represent a soul’s first few days in heaven. What are we missing when we pack up in the car and drive past a string of houses of worship to find our normal place in the pew? What might happen if we took a season and just dropped in to our ‘local’ church and maybe the next-to-local after that?
My guess is we might be surprised to find that Jesus has been saving us a seat and there are fresh faced saints with their hands, and hearts, reaching out to meet us; ” with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians1:2