I missed church yesterday. Due to some scheduling choices in our family this fall, I am on stay-home duty if the kids are sick on Sunday morning. For the last two years, I have been involved with teaching senior high youth Sunday School. This fall, our youth schedule has changed. I think the changes are good, but they affected my ministry directly. There is no “senior high” Sunday School this year. There is one youth Sunday School, and senior high students are encouraged to help lead that, or find some other ministry (little kids, greeter, usher, etc.) during the Sunday School hour. We’ve also split up the junior and senior high services. Junior high meets on the usual Wednesday night, while senior high has moved to Sunday evenings. Senior high meets earlier, since the kids are not coming from school. Due to these changes, I now help out doing sound on Sunday nights, instead of teaching Sunday School as part of the rotation. That change freed up Joy to teach little kids Sunday School during the second service every week. Since she is “on duty” every week, if any of the kids are sick enough to stay home, I am the only parent available for this job!
There is a little bit of irony here. Joy is an introvert, and has confessed that at times being in a large group like that can make her uncomfortable. Having me along and feeling comfortable helps her navigate this easier. Now, of course, I’m stuck at home longing for more interaction and missing the many familiar faces and greetings, while Joy is stuck at church for first service, feeling uncomfortable. Ah, God must have a good sense of humor!
As far as me being stuck at home, I greatly missed the communal worship and teaching, as well as the people of the Body of Christ at our church. I really do enjoy the fellowship with others who serve the same ultimate Purpose that I do. Abby and I had our own “church” at home by watching a couple of biblically themed VeggieTales videos, and talking about what the stories teach us. (We watched Esther and The Easter Carol.) It was good. We also had some fun together, as she used up tissue after tissue wiping her nose. We snuggled, had a tickle battle, did a puzzle together, and just generally enjoyed some quality time together. However, it wasn’t the same as going to church. I can see why the writer of Hebrews would admonish his readers in chapter 10(NASB):
23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
There is a unique encouragement from gathering with others with whom you can share the joys and sorrows of life. While I don’t know that church attendance is a requirement for entry to heaven (I’m pretty sure that is based solely on salvation), I can’t imagine trying to survive the Christian walk without it. I think of our brothers and sisters in more oppressed countries who risk their lives to meet together. It is probably a measure of the pampered nature of life in the United States that we don’t see it as just as vital in our lives. I think committment to a church body, through attendance, giving, serving, and sharing of our lives, is crucial to becoming like Christ. The “rugged individualism” of our society just doesn’t seem consistent with the passage above, or the example of Christ.
Fortunately, my involvement with senior high youth provided an outlet to fill in some of that need. I arrived early, helped get the sound set up for the worship team, and participated in worship and the message that the youth pastor delivered to the teens. It was not quite the same as being there on Sunday morning, but it certainly helped. Thank goodness that God provides so many ways for us to get together.
Here’s hoping that all three kids feel great next Sunday, so I can get back to Church! 🙂