Because our sons are out of the nest, I admit I miss that back-to-school ritual of meandering through a crowded office supply store, along with scores of other families, to fill our basket with the shiny new binders and pens and all the rest of the stuff needed for the learning that a new school year promised. That shopping trip made me remember how I always loved the fresh beginning of returning to friends and the rhythms of a new school year. Now all I get is the bill from a college bookstore far away!
So thank God for Sunday School! Because no matter what your station in life, from little child to empty nester to bearer of wisdom that comes with age, the church annually celebrates a new beginning with Rally Day. The church also has shiny new school supplies, new curriculum for children and youth, new offerings for adult education, and new opportunities for each BMPC member to engage in the ministries of the church. And this year we welcome a new hymnal, which along with the Bible is the most important textbook we have as community of faith.
With the excitement of new beginnings in mind, I want to share something I read this summer about the connections between spiritual and physical health. According to a study in the Annals of Epidemiology, people who attend religious services tend to be healthier than the rest of the population. Work being done at Duke University on prayer and meditation indicates that folks with a strong belief system have stronger immune systems and fewer episodes of chronic inflammation. People who identify themselves as religious reveal lower rates of depression. Even folks who live with chronic pain and illness, who cannot “be healed” necessarily for that which ails them, rank higher on a wellness scale than those who profess no religion.
What’s the connection? Research shows that religious people possess a stronger sense of community, have a support system beyond family, and cope with the stress life brings in healthier ways. There is an important connection between the spirit and the body, and being part of a community that believes in God who is wonderfully good and gracious offers lasting benefit to both spiritual wellbeing and physical health.
So, as we celebrate Rally Day on Sunday I invite you to consider how your commitment to BMPC is good for your health – body and soul. The beginning of a new church school year offers community, prayer and praise, friendship, and countless opportunities to learn and grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday and celebrating all this newness with excitement.
Grace and Peace,