Today I skipped church. There..I said it. The deepest and darkest sin of my soul has been released! Okay, this action was not one, I know, that pointed me straight to Hell, but it is something I would like to publicly reflect on.
Every Sunday morning, my alarm wakes me up at 6:15am. I am usually groggy. I have eye crust, and my head feels like it weighs 500 lbs. All I want to do is sleep for a little while longer. I actually do get to sleep a while longer because my wife is normally the first to arise and start her routine. I tell myself the only reason I indulge in an extra 45 minutes of sleep is to ensure the water heater has time to replenish the supply after my wife finishes getting ready.
I pastor a church that some would call “mobile”. We meet in a school and must set up and tear down every week. My volunteers are committed and we can all sympathize with one another when our hair is not perfect and we are on our third gallon of [insert name of caffeinated beverage]. We make it work and God is glorified as we pray for His spirit to move in every service, and impact those that come.
Today was a unique experience for my wife and I. This weekend we took a short trip to celebrate our anniversary, and we decided to sleep in until we were tired of sleeping. There were no children to wake us up. There were no alarms to cut off the flow. Just us, and the pillow, and unadulterated, beautiful sleep. It felt good. It was comfortable. My pillow somehow stayed cold, and I didn’t even question the physics behind it.
The rest of the day we ate lunch, visited a museum, and drove home to restart our normal family routines. As I was eating dinner tonight, I thought about today and how it made me feel. I had a great time, and I know how vital it is to take some time away every once in a while, but I could tell that something was lacking in my heart. I realized this “lacking feeling” was largely due to the fact that church was not part of the equation. From an occupational perspective, I was okay with the fact that I would not have any leadership responsibilites today. From a soul enriching perspective, however, I felt dry, disconnected, empty, and spiritually drained. I still love Jesus, but I could tell there was something missing. There were actually a few things missing. Fellowship. Community worship. Service. Any one of these things are holy in themselves, but alone they are deficient.
As a pastor, I have to admit that I get discouraged when it seems like people could care less about the importance of community worship. Why? Well, probably, because as a pastor I have given my life to a concept that many look at as a hobby. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one to say that if you are not under a steeple every living chance you get then you are destined for eternal damnation, but I do think that we take this amazing opportunity for granted. I long for the day in which we can collectively push back the spontaneous “Sunday flu” and praise together in preparation for Heaven. It is important.
The Christian community, as a whole (including me) wants the church to be there when we need it, but rarely think about being there for the church. This breaks my heart when I think about how I have contributed to this mentality. How have I? Well, there have been times when I have tried to make the activity of the church as entertaining as possible to attract more people. That’s not a terrible thing to do, but my motives were placed in quantity instead of impact. What I have realized is I yearn to convey my love for God’s word and the people He created.
We were made to worship. Not in isolation but in praise with one another. Every, single, hypocritical one of us. I know, I know…you may be a person who doesn’t like “institutional religion” and you have your own way of worshipping. That’s awesome, but just make sure there is a community aspect to it. And, if there is a community aspect to it, make sure you organize yourselves in a way that most efficiently conveys the mission of what God has called you to accomplish. Wait…that sounds like the Church. Forgive me.
Heaven is going to be a place of service, fellowship, and praise for the rest of eternity. We must get used to it or we will seek other things to fill the void. Also, we don’t want to be caught off guard when we are playing our harp on cloud 9 and a fellow believer joins in with us.
I am so ready to get back to church this Sunday. I hate this feeling. Worship should happen every day, though. Thank God for daily renewal.