You may have heard it said: “I’d rather be sitting in a boat thinking about God than sitting in a church thinking about fishing”. Even as a pastor who hasn’t gone fishing for years, I can relate to this quote.
We can drive in any direction from the Tri-Cities and encounter the beauty of creation. I appreciate Richard Louv’s term, “Nature Deficit Disorder” and how important it is to connect with wildlife whenever we can. Weekends are often the only time to do it.
However, that does not explain why we are the “None Zone”. This is what the Pacific Northwest has been called, based on a 2001 poll (American Religious Identification Survey) where 63 percent of Northwesterners said that they were not affiliated with a religious group compared to 41 percent of Americans as a whole. They wrote that their religious affiliation is “None.”
To my mind this should be the area where people are so in awe of the beauty of the Earth, that we cannot help but wonder if there is a God. Seeing beauty draws me to God, and I feel the need to thank someone.
I want to shout out, “Well done God! Great art work!”
While God can be experienced in all things and through people, I believe that we worship the Creator not creation. As we delight in what we see, we can appreciate God as the artist.
According to the current studies by the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of people believe in God in Washington state. Also, 65 percent have a feeling of wonder about the universe every month! And 62 percent go to a religious service at some time in the year.
Why go to a religious service?
Attending a worship service is about setting aside some time to be with God, experience God and receive from God.
It is a time to listen to God’s word and reflect upon it.
We get to sing together. Where else do we do that these days, sing regularly, and no matter how good your voice?
Ritual is important, it grounds us spiritually and physically, just as the Earth does.
During worship we pray not just our own private prayers, but public prayers that we share with others. Where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, he promised to be with them.
It seems that Jesus does not want us to keep our faith private, but to be in community. We are to be there for each other, in the ups and downs of our faith and our lives.
I feel like I go to a party every Sunday morning. (It’s not just that I don’t get out enough!) We have a full fellowship meal after every worship service and enjoy each other’s company, care about each other, and build relationships with people we wouldn’t naturally encounter as friends. This means we learn to love others, especially people who are very different from ourselves.
We can certainly pray together when we are out by the lake or in the mountains, and even have a worship service. But we can also be part of a faith community when we are at home.
So yes, go fishing and to worship. Jesus did! That is the best of both worlds!
Rev. Helga Jansons is pastor of the First Lutheran Church in Pasco. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.