A strong fabric in the community
Published 9:20 am Friday, August 29, 2014
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Timothy Reker
During these back-to-school days there are many sales on all the different things students need for school: backpacks, clothing, pens, pencils, crayons and markers, among other things. Picking out something made of fabric often prompts one to check the strength and quality of the material, not to mention the cleaning instructions. As another school year begins and we celebrate a national holiday, Labor Day, we might want to reflect upon the strength of our community and how it might be improved.
The other day I was reading a story about a young couple that had to face the question about religious practice and going to church. In this case, belonging to and attending a church was very important to the husband, but not the wife. Over time they looked at various faith communities and finally picked one, and after receiving some faith formation or instructions, became active members of their church family. It made all the difference in their marriage and family life! This story included a scripture reference: “Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
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Locally there are many good things taking place in Albert Lea and the surrounding communities. Various individuals, organizations and churches work together to make community life stronger and better. Efforts are made to improve our schools, parks and business environment.
We read about the various “thumbs-up” reviews in this paper. Articles and letters to the editor relate positive developments. Shinefest is one example of members from different faith communities working together to help their neighbors and city.
However, we also read and hear about the bad news in our communities, too: vandalism, domestic abuse, other crimes, violence, drugs and chemical dependency. Perhaps something is missing from the fabric of our community life: a closer relationship with God through active participation in a faith community.
Often we hear the comment, “I am spiritual, but not religious,” or, “I believe, but do not practice a faith.” Believing and being a spiritual person is wonderful, but doing so in the midst of a church community is even better.
Whether we are single or married, the fabric of our lives can be strengthened by joining together in God with other people of faith. The more plies in our cord, the more we can resist the negative forces and influences that surround us. A faith community offers us opportunities to worship together, to learn and be formed in one’s faith, to experience fellowship and to serve others, especially those in need.
As another school year begins, we can take advantage of the opportunity to return to or to begin active membership in a faith community. The doors of our community’s churches stand open to receive you. Yes, it will require some effort and time on your part, but the rewards are great — here in our earthly communities and also in the heavenly city of Jerusalem. Let’s opt for both being spiritual and religious, thus strengthening the fabric of our lives!
The Rev. Timothy T. Reker is pastor at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea and at St. James Catholic Church in Twin Lakes.