When we don’t feel like going to church
|Image Source: Stefan Kunze|
One of the benefits of studying at a Seminary is that we get to attend chapel services six days a week. Every year we get to hear the lectionary being preached by more than 120 Seminarians and Ministers from a wide variety of contexts with varying theological beliefs.
As great a privilege as this is, there are many days where I just do not feel like going to church. There have been many reasons for this. Perhaps I have a couple of assignments due that week or I am simply not a fan of the person scheduled to preach.
I am sure that I am not the only one who has experienced this.
Sometimes after a late night on a Saturday, we would prefer to wake up late on a Sunday morning. Sometimes we would prefer to join our friends for a round of golf or brunch than attend our local church service.
I am in no way denying that certain urgent matters might cause us to miss the occasional church service. However, Sunday worship services are the lifeblood of being a part of a healthy church community and I believe that our excuses for bunking church on a Sunday are becoming weaker and weaker.
I can already hear some of you preparing your response: "but the church isn't a building, it is the people!" Yes, I fully agree. But what better way to meet and worship with the people of God than in a regular, liturgical worship service with fellow believers that has been prepared by a person who has been called by God to do so?
When we attend regular worship services, our souls are rejuvenated and we are better connected to God and each other - both practically and spiritually.
There are two things that I try to remind myself of on those mornings when I do not feel like going to church.
1) We do not go to church for our own benefit.
While there are many benefits of attending worship services and we are often blessed for doing so, our primary reason for meeting together as believers is not for our own benefit. We worship together to glorify God and align our lives with God's mission. By attending church services even when I don't feel like it, I am reminded that my life is not my own and I need to be a good steward of all that I have been entrusted with.
2) We are often surprised by God's Grace.
There have been countless times when God turned up and revealed grace to me, particularly when I was not expecting it. This is one of the reasons that I believe regularly partaking in the sacrament of Holy Communion is so important. It is the perfect example of how Christ invites all people to his table, regardless of how worthy or worthless they feel.
On those mornings when I wake up and don't feel like going to church, I remind myself of the times in my life that I unexpectedly encountered God's grace. I am then able to re-focus my mind on worshipping with fellow believers in a manner that best glorifies our God.
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. A sense of awe came over everyone, and the apostles performed many wonders and signs. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need. With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
- Acts 4:42-47