It seems like people ask that question a lot these days in a variety of situations. “Is it worth it to get involved in public life?” “Is it
worth it to vote?” “Is it worth it to share what I think (because someone might get really mad at me)?” “Is it worth it to work really hard at my job?” “Is it worth it to make the effort to keep in touch with friends?” “Is it worth it to go to church?”

Good questions.

Many people are feeling that much of what we’ve normally done just does not matter anymore. Being loyal to an employer, being
involved in public life, sharing ideas with those that may not agree with us, showing up for worship early on Sunday morning – it just doesn’t seem worth it to many people.

I’m always a little bit behind the curve in terms of pop culture, but I learned this week that there is a popular song that captures this attitude. It was streamed more than one million times on the day it was released earlier this year, and it is still getting streamed and viewed on YouTube thousands of times a day. The song is “Numb Little Bug” by Em Beihold. Here is the chorus:
Do you ever get a little bit tired of life
Like you’re not really happy but you don’t wanna die
Like you’re hanging by a thread but you gotta survive
‘Cause you gotta survive
Like your body’s in the room but you’re not really there
Like you have empathy inside but you don’t really care
Like you’re fresh outta love but it’s been in the air
Am I past repair?

This is not a song of despair but of emptiness. Not suicidal, but “tired of life.” Still having some empathy somewhere inside, but not
really able to express it. Having a sense that love is real, but not being able to experience it.

Em Beihold wrote this song when she was struggling with depression. She has a great video describing the circumstances when
she wrote the song which, unfortunately, has far fewer views than the video of the song. She also has some great interviews. She is very
open about her depression and how antidepressants affected her, and, judging from the response to the song, she has certainly captured the feelings of a large number of people. Interestingly, she is not a big fan of antidepressants. She acknowledges that, for some people,
antidepressants can be a great help. She did not have that experience.   She doesn’t explicitly say how she came out of her depression, but
there is a clue in the music video. The song begins

I don’t feel a single thing
Have the pills done too much
Haven’t caught up with my friends in weeks
And now we’re outta touch

In the video there is a picture of an old-style yellow touch-tone phone
with the receiver off the hook as these words are sung. At the end of the
video, she sings these words:

Do you ever get a little bit tired of life
Like you’re not really happy but you don’t wanna die
Like a numb little bug that’s gotta survive
That’s gotta survive

As the song ends, her cell phone shows an incoming call from her best friend (one would only know that the call is from her “bestie” if one had watched some other videos about the making of the song – yes, I did some research!). She answers the phone and smiles. Perhaps this is a hint about one way to overcome the numbness. Friendship. Community.  Connection. I think she’s on to something.

These are things that are lacking in our culture. If the statistics are correct, most of us spend more time staring at our phones than
talking to other humans or walking in nature with people we care about or enjoying good meals with friends.

Friendship. Community. Connection. These are some of the things that Church is about. Church includes friendship with God and
one another. (Jesus tells his disciples, “You are my friends” [John 15:14]. God is not a distant Ruler far away and disconnected from us
but a close Friend.) Church means community – supporting one another and working to make the world a little bit better. That can be very satisfying and life-giving. Ideally, the Church is a place where we connect – with God, with others, and with ourselves.

Unfortunately, many people do not experience Church this way.  Church is seen as rules and doctrines and rituals. I’m not completely
against rules and doctrines and rituals. I think “Don’t kill people” is a good rule. I don’t think believing the doctrine of “The one who dies with the most toys wins” is a helpful guide for life. And sharing the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper is very meaningful for me. Nevertheless, Church is not primarily about rules, doctrines, and rituals. Church is about relationships – relationship with God and relationships with one another. Support. Connection. Love.

As a congregation, we try to live this out. We are frail humans, so we’re not going to be perfect. We are also loved by the God who
lives in us, so we are not doing this alone. We’ve got help, and we can do better.

The trouble with much of civic religion and cultural Christianity is the lack of religious experience. People
who haven’t had a loving or intimate experience with God tend to get extremely rigid, dogmatic, and controlling
about religion. They think that if they pray the right words, read the Bible daily, and go to church often
enough, it will happen. But God loves us before we do the rituals. God doesn’t need them, but we need them to
tenderly express our childlike devotion and desire—and to get in touch with that desire. The great commandment
is not “thou shalt be right.” The great commandment is to “be in love” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Earth Is the
Lord’s [Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Co., 1963], 75,76–77, quoted by Father Richard Rohr in his June 26,
2022 daily meditation).

You are invited to experience God together. In silence.  In worship. In nature. In conversation.

We all “get a little bit tired of life, like you’re not really happy but you don’t want to die” in the world of stress, natural and human
disasters, and 24 hour news. There are ways to cope that are not shortcuts but life-giving in the long run.

“Is it worth it?” Only you can decide that. You are welcome to explore the question in community. That’s one thing the Church is for.

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