Sometimes I feel like a school principal. It’s weird. People miss church and then send me a note through social media, text or email, “Johnny missed church Sunday because he had a fungus growing in his ears.”
No, it’s not that extreme but I feel a little weird when people feel like they need to tell me why they weren’t in church. It’s like they want me to know they aren’t just playing hooky but have legitimate reasons.
The whole “going to church” mentality is, as far as I can see, off the mark. I think years of perfect attendance pins and gold stars on Sunday School attendance charts have undermined what should pull us out of bed.
Here’s my confession: I don’t want to go to church. Really, I don’t.
What I do want to do is gather with my friends to worship our God, hear about their lives and make plans. I want to make their kids laugh. I want to kiss Ruth on the forehead and have Helen hand me a cough drop. I like Kip’s morning hug and teasing Vicki about her Cowboys. I love sitting in the lobby laughing with Cam and Sean, high fives and hugs from Sara and Shelby and hearing Sara call me “dude.” I love connecting with that row of Anthony, Kylie, Nicole and Adam, seeing Obrien smiles and teasing Kim. I could go on and on and list a hundred names from sharing baseball stories with Sally to seeing Nancy’s smile, from talking cameras with Al to laughing with Pam and Larry, name after name is popping into my mind right now. I like that.
I get up Sunday morning not to go to church; I get up because I want to gather with the church, the people, my family. I want to worship with the church, learn with the church and grow with the church in this big white building where it meets.
I hope that is, or becomes, your motivation. I don’t want you to feel guilty for missing “church” but I do hope we continue to build such a loving community that you miss gathering with the church when you are away.
Yes, I believe gathering regularly with and being connected with the church is vital. I think it is much more difficult to grow and navigate life without connecting with others who share our beliefs, values and purposes. When I do not make gathering with the church a priority, it impacts my life and my attitude negatively.
Summer is here! It is time for vacations, family cookouts and canoeing with friends. I love that. Please shake off the church guilt complex and kiss the perfect attendance pin goodbye to enjoy the beach house. Breathe deep, reflect, read a book and enjoy sabbath rest. I am thrilled you are getting away to be refreshed. I am happy that you are building memories that will last. I love seeing the smiles in the pictures you post on Facebook and I know my God loves it when you laugh and relax.
Know that no one is taking attendance here and know that we do miss you when you are gone but please don’t feel like you need a note or that the pastor is going to be upset because you missed church. This pastor is thrilled to see you loving your family enough to vacation and loving your spouse enough to take out the kayaks to head for the water.
I know that September is coming and I know that we Mainers need to grab these brief summer days while they are here. I can’t wait to welcome you back and hear about your summer fun.
I remember hearing someone once say, “Yeah, I felt so bad that I hadn’t been to church in so long that I never went back. It would be awkward hearing, ‘where have you been?'”
When you get back just know that we love you and have missed you like crazy. We want to hear about your adventures. We’ll just pick up right where we left off.
I hope you are having a great summer. I hope you are squeezing out every drop of vitamin D each day offers.
I’m looking forward to seeing you when you get back whether it be next Sunday or this fall.
We don’t go to church, we are the church.
– Scott Linscott