John Schreiber: Going beyond survival requires more dedication
West Concord recently completed its annual town celebration that began years ago after Highway 56 had been closed for longer than anticipated. The town businesses felt lucky to survive the closure and called the celebration Survival Days, as in "We survived!"
Similar to other small-town celebrations, West Concord has the requisite tractor pulls, food vendors and garage sales, but West Concord also offers, like some other towns, a community worship service.
When I was growing up in St. Paul, everyone seemed to "belong" to a church, synagogue or mosque. Not every child attended regularly, but we all knew where each other belonged, no matter how infrequently we went through the doors. This was where a person had been baptized, if Christian; maybe confirmed, depending on denomination; and would probably be married and most likely buried, which is everyone.
Also when I was young, different church denominations drew lines in the sand over how to observe communion or how a liturgy should be organized. Do you remember arguments over guitars in a service or what sort of songs would be sung?
Today, many churches face a far more daunting challenge: how to put bodies in the pews.
For many people today, a place of worship is an afterthought, if a thought at all. For some that do attend, the idea of "service" is rare — in other words, some see church as a place where they should be served, not go to serve.
Others don't see it as anything other than a relic of a bygone era. After all, the Internet is far more visually engaging; Netflix offers some religious movies; and for fellowship — who needs a church when Facebook is updated every minute?
Which brings me back to West Concord Survival Days. To celebrate that Sunday, churches put aside doctrinal differences and worked together. They saw that banding together had greater value than division because, too often, Americans have replaced faith, hope and love with anger, discord and selfishness. These local churches see there is a purpose in life and for life.
Over time, the pews may fill up again when Americans realize self-absorption, the Internet and Facebook offer little solace when one is hurting, grieving or looking for a truth greater than People magazine.
Survival isn't enough.
John Schreiber, of West Concord, is a member of the Post-Bulletin Community Editorial Advisory Board.