Ezra said to them, “Go, eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and your stronghold.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be worried.” Then all the people went on their way to eat, to drink, to send portions [of food to others] and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been communicated to them. Nehemiah 8:10-12
I overheard this quip the other day. "Summer should get a speeding ticket it goes so fast" I had to laugh, especially as we celebrate the unofficial end of summer with the Labor Day holiday on Monday September 2. Yes, where has summer gone?
But, don't despair there are still many days of official summer still to enjoy and special days to celebrate.
Now, as September begins we are back to our routines and the usual activities of our lives. There are benefits to enjoy as we resume familiar activities of Fall. Sports programs begin, schools are in session, Cubs and organizations are meeting regularly again. One such activity that resumes is attending church.
Attending church is one of those important routines that we renew and pick up again.
At First Pres. - Carlstadt we celebrate "National Back-to-Church Sunday" on September 23.
The benefits of attending church and participating in worship are well documented. Secular studies have shown that regular participation in religious activities has a positive overall effect on our lives. The activities of worship can improve our overall health. Hearing great music, spending time in quiet prayer and meditation, singing hymns, hearing the word of God and listening to an inspiring sermon, can have a beneficial effect on our lives. Together they are uplifting and life affirming.
In the September issue of Readers Digest an article on "50 Ways to get Smarter about your Brain" references brain mapping studies that show meditation, and I'd add prayer, reduces anxiety, depression and stress. They quote Deborah Serani of Adelphi University and author of the book "Depression in Later Life" who say, "meditation also sharpens attention and improves cognitive functioning ".
So, returning to the words of Nehemiah; worship becomes an antidote to worry. It is a cause for celebration. Worshippers are encouraged to celebrate with good food, sweet drinks and sharing with neighbors. Worship, prayer and singing increases our feelings of joy and strengthens our emotions, as well as our faith. Church just improves our lives.
Please join us on BTC Sunday, September 23, and every Sunday. It's good for what ails you.
Love and joy,
Rev. Donald M. Pitches