July 14

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. —Jeremiah 29:13

The rector opened the Sunday-morning service by welcoming the parishioners and also the visitors and tourists, always well represented in a large city church. Then he added a third category to his welcome. "Those of you who are here church-shopping—we are very glad to have you with us." For a moment I hardly registered his words. Then I thought with dismay, Do people shop for churches the way they shop for a lawn mower? How soon will Consumer's Report judge some congregation or other to be a "best buy"?

As the organ launched exultantly into "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," I thought about shopping with my daughter for her forthcoming wedding. She wanted everything to be the best she could find at a price we could pay. She worked tirelessly on the Internet and in the library to find good information and track down promising leads. It was all a part of her joy in her fiancé and their future together. It was moving to watch and to be a part of it.

Why then was I so bothered by the idea of church-shopping? The phrase was just shorthand for the work and loving attention that many people put into finding a church community in which they could both worship and grow most fully, a place where they could volunteer their talents and check in with God on a regular basis.

I looked around the church that I had come to regard as my spiritual home. I, too, had shopped to find this church. And my joy in finding it outweighed discovering the biggest bargain in the finest store.

Help us, Lord, as we seek to find a spiritual home and to do our best in Your service.

—Brigitte Weeks