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Faith Matters: Why you should make going to church regularly one of your resolutions

  • Rev. Julie Olmsted of The Trinitarian Congregational Church, 147 Main St. Northfield. Sunday service is at 10 a.m. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The Trinitarian Congregational Church in Northfield. January 3, 2018. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Pastor, Trinitarian Congregational Church of Northfield
Friday, January 05, 2018

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 265.)

In the plethora of resolutions that folks make every New Year — losing weight, saving money, stopping smoking, etc. — consider one that boils down to feeding your soul: Go back to church and go regularly.

With the growing population of “Nones” (those who check off “none” on the forms when asked their religion) and “SBNRs” (spiritual but not religious), below are what might be good reasons to get up and go this Sunday.

Your priorities will get straight — In the Bible as far back as Adam and Eve’s sons Cain and Abel, we see the notion of “first fruits” and why it is beneficial to give God the top layer or the best of our lives (that one precious hour at the beginning of the week). It is not that God is petty or greedy and wants our “goodies.” It is the wisdom of knowing our lives are gifts and that giving thanks is the best way to keep the gift alive and well.

Your social connections will enliven you. It is a proven fact that going to church keeps us from isolation and therefore depression. Those who attend regularly with good will and good humor tend to live longer and are happier … plus better looking. I added that part — but seriously, people who are joyful are more attractive!

You’ll make a difference for others. We are better together; we can do great things for the community and the world when we join forces. All of us want to feel that our lives make a difference. Going to church, giving of our time, service and resources ensures that this will happen.

You’ll think deep thoughts. In church we learn (again and again) about forgiveness and personal strength, creating peace and loving one another. These are not ideas that flourish in the public square of competition and commercialism, social status and political acrimony. Superficial thinking makes superficial people. Going to church should give opportunities to look deeply into what matters most in life. If it doesn’t, move on to a church that does.

You’ll sing and hear lovely music. “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” (William Congreve) Singing is fun and it’s good for you. Sing with gusto and you’ll feel better, I promise. You could even join the choir.

Your soul will be shiny. Joy is real and it is found in worship and prayer and praise. If you go to church and don’t feel joy, find another church. It’s not all laughter and feeling good, to be sure. There is self-examination, confession and feelings that are sometimes hard. But knowing God and feeling God’s presence is the most important component. It gets us through anything. We are part of God and when we don’t have that understanding and experience, we can become dry and hardened to the sweetness of life.

You’ll be inspired. You don’t have to believe everything, especially not all at once. Just come with an open mind and heart. Someone once said to me, “I don’t know if I believe in God. But I believe in those who believe.” People are strong and funny and kind and loveable when they’re full of God’s love and hope. You need this in your life. We all do.

You’ll have perspective in life. God is big and we are small. This is good news, not bad. Did you ever stand before a sunrise or on the beach looking out at the ocean? This is how we are supposed to feel: grateful, connected, in the palm of God’s hand. This blessed knowledge is invaluable when facing troubles and challenges, like losing someone or facing our own death.

Give church another try in 2018. Your soul will thrive and give thanks.

About Trinitarian Congregational Church

Trinitarian Congregational Church, a United Church of Christ, is a small, welcoming and thoughtful congregation. We embrace diversity and the wisdom of different traditions, while honoring our own roots of congregationalism and social justice. Worship is at 10 a.m. every Sunday. Children’s blessing happens in the service, then young ones have their own program of fun and learning. Come hear our choir, express your views and look deeply at those things that matter in life. Like us on Facebook/NorthfieldTrinitarianChurch. Website: tccnorthfield.org. 147 Main St., Northfield. 413-498-2431.