Anyone is always invited to every church on the planet, anytime. It’s an open invitation. Regardless of the religion, faith or denomination, we all want to share with others what brings us joy and peace. Some commune with God by taking hikes in the woods, paddling a quiet or rapid stream. Some churches are traditional, others are charismatic, formal or casual, just like people — they’re all different.

I like them all at different times. For now, I’m doing my own thing. Isn’t that what young people say and don’t old people sometimes complain about the new generations doing such things? Doing your own thing has multiple meanings. You can just hear the sass in those words if you’ve been a rebellious teenager, or know one. I’ve experienced both.

Recently, prompted by overhearing others talk about the negative selfish attitude of “doing my own thing” I’ve observed it’s true. It can be very selfish and counterproductive. The consequences can be devastating, if we get caught — and if we don’t. Whew, we got away with it, or do we?

I’m not endorsing the all-encompassing “doing my own thing,” but as I sit in my patio room listening to birds singing, the clock ticking, watching the cats sleep nearby with an occasional look to see if I’m still here — rarely home with them these days — and, wishing MY church these days was not “doing my own thing.” I’m missing moments I’ve enjoyed in the past of being in fellowship with others in a church setting, especially during worship.

Today as I write during my quiet time with God, I’m thinking of the fellowship of the saints in an assembly of a church home. I justify my sabbath rests because I share Jesus all week long. I adore and respect many pastors throughout the Teche Area, missionaries that travel to other countries and friends who share a mutual dependence on God to get through each and every day. So when my body is worn from too much activity throughout the week, I take the sabbath as Heavenly Father did when he built all of creation. I rest.

Sometimes I don’t even want to do the house chores that are part of everyday living — and when they accumulate through a busy week, still, sometimes I choose rest.

These are not things I’m proud of — not attending church regularly or not attending to personal responsibilities as I was raised to do — I’m trying to survive this fallen life that exists outside of the perfectly designed Garden of Eden where I prefer to dwell — and will one day in heaven.

For now, I’m doing the best I can and enjoying the fellowship of believers every day and in every way that I can. Loving one another, regardless of our race, creed, quirks or faith, takes hard work. Jesus knew it well and would often retreat to seek His Father through prayer and meditation. Often, we are compelled to “do” something rather than “be” the person God created us to be — His companion.

When we walk in His ways, and obey His commands to reach out the hand of fellowship, cry with those who mourn and rejoice with those who have accomplished lifelong dreams, we are truly being the church. It is not a building, or a denomination, a magic fix or automatic remedy to what ails us.

The Church, His church, is in us. When we join hands and hearts with others, we become the full measure of humanity. His love is manifested in us. For those who have ears to hear, we rejoice in the knowledge of His creation and His creatures.

We still need preachers and church choirs and Sunday School or Bible study to continue to learn and grow, bringing what God has taught us for the day or week to others. Sharing Christ is what a Christian does best — until they play God. Then He no longer lives in them, he just waits until we realize He’s been left behind. That’s when we need to stop. Listen to the birds, His clapping hands in the trees, feel the love of unconditional acceptance and practice being. With that said, think I’ll read a little while — see what God has to teach me today.

VICKY BRANTON is Teche Life editor of The Daily Iberian.

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