I have a confession to make. Though I always encourage parishioners to go to church when they are traveling, and though many of my clergy friends love checking out other churches while on vacation, this year I skipped church both Sundays I was on vacation. There were options available to us – in fact, I could have seen some clergy friends celebrate in their own churches. Instead, I slept in, went shopping, took a long walk, ate brunch, and generally treated the day as a true day “off.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is perfectly healthy to just take a day off from church now and then. For parents with children, I totally get how hard it is just to get out the door, let alone manage their squirminess in the pew. In fact, I’ve had parents tell me that they always have to read my sermons on my blog because their kids are just too distracting. And even if you do not have kids, sometimes the allure of a warm bed or cozy pajamas is just too much. Sometimes you just need a break.
But here is what I noticed about skipping two Sundays in a row: something was missing. I had a hard time tracking what day of the week it was the rest of the week. I missed seeing familiar faces and hearing about the joys and challenges of the week. I missed singing songs of praise, being challenged by Holy Scripture, and participating in the holy meal. I missed prayer time with God, being surrounded by a community that confesses their sins as I confess my own, and having time to set an intention for the week – whether something the preacher said or something the Holy Spirit inspired.
That’s the thing about going to church: it gives meaning to everything else I do during the week. The things we say and do in worship, the ways that we relate in community, and the purpose we find as we are sent out into the world define how I experience the rest of life. And when you find a really great church, that experience makes it a lot easier to toss off that comforter and head to church for some real comfort. If you are looking for such an experience, you are always welcome at Hickory Neck. And if you already found a church home at Hickory Neck, invite a friend to join you next Sunday. The paper and that cozy bed will be waiting for you after church!