“What the Church Means to Me,” by Justin Cogan


“What the Church Means to Me,” words spoken in worship by Justin Cogan


Pastor Jeff asked if I could take a few minutes this morning to come up here and describe what our Church means to me.  Under normal circumstances, I’d be a little anxious addressing a crowd this size, but it occurred to me as I prepared my message earlier this week that I was not feeling nervous, and I think the main reason for that is that I’m not up here addressing a group of strangers…I’m just talking to my family…my Church Family.


In many ways, I feel like the congregation of the PUMC is like family, and I know that I am not alone in that belief.  When Alison and I first came to worship at PUMC 11 years ago, we immediately felt welcomed into the community here.  That warm embrace of Christian fellowship has only gotten stronger though the years – particularly as our family has continued to grow.  I think back to Eddie and Cassie as babies sitting with “Grandma” Eleanor Cochrane while Alison and I practiced with the Bell Choir, or when little Beth was about to have her kidney surgery, and it seemed like the entire Church came forward onto the altar here and laid their hands on us in prayer.  I can remember the joyous surprise we had that first Sunday we got to introduce our newest foster placement TJ to our Church Family, and how special it was to have little Marissa, barely a year old, play a distinctively feminine baby Jesus in the Christmas Pageant.


Alison and I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful group of people here at PUMC to make our children feel special and loved.  There have been some Sundays, mind you, when Alison and I have been almost certain that we deserved to be asked to stay away.  Since I was raised a Roman Catholic, I often feel an extra sensitivity toward the sacredness of worship service.  The church I attended as a boy had a soundproof room at the back of the sanctuary where parents with young children were expected to sit.  No doubt an offshoot of the whole “children should be seen and not heard” mantra.  Here at PUMC, I am always amazed that my sometimes “disruptive” (you’ll never believe how long it took me to carefully choose that word) children are always welcomed back with open arms each Sunday. 


Children, not just mine, are truly nurtured here at PUMC.  You can see it in how their eyes happily shine during the Passing of the Peace.  You can hear it in the simple wisdom they share during Jeff’s Children’s Sermon.  You can feel it in the eager anticipation they have, bouncing in line to snag a tasty treat from the Coffee Hour Crew. 


The unconditional love that this Church Family has for its children is just one of the many gifts we are blessed to share with each other here at the Parsippany United Methodist Church.  I would humbly ask that you keep this special grace in mind as we approach Consecration Sunday on December 7th.  Thank you, and may God bless you.

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