Thursday, March 15, 2012

Church Attendance

                Over the last weekend, a friend came over for beer and conversation.  He is my husband’s closest friend whom I also enjoy having around.  We chatted about life in general for awhile.  The taboo topic of the Bible started being discussed with the conversation going on for hours.  Our friend grew up a pretty strict Catholic, but in his adult years, he hasn’t gone to church of any sort though he reads his Bible probably more consistently than I do.
                During the discussion, we talked about creation, reconciliation, Eucharist, and church attendance.  My emotions were all over the charts.  They were the lowest when we talked about church attendance.  This topic strikes such a chord in me.  I have mentioned it before, but from the time I was in about first grade, I went to church all by myself with the church school bus bringing me too and from Sunday School and Church.  The bus ride, Sunday School, and when they had Children’s Church were the best.  I loved going to learn more about Jesus; plus, I felt His presence especially strong at the church.  Going to regular church hurt.  I watched my friends join their mom’s or their mom and dad.  They went to church as family.  My heart broke.
                My mom refused to go to church without my dad and my dad said he wouldn’t go to church and sit by all those hypocrites.  My friend said he wouldn’t go to church and sit by all the gossips.  During this part of the conversation, I became very quiet letting him and my husband continue the discussion.  I feel so defeated.  They are most definitely right about the gossips and hypocrites.  I am one of them.  All my friends are also a part of this group.  We are all this way.  We are imperfect and sinful.  I work really hard at not gossiping.  Now that I can regulate who I am around, I don’t get as sucked into it as I did in the working world.  Water cooler gossip is virtually impossible for me.  I have to pray about this sin a LOT!  Yet, I can’t skip Mass because I am unworthy.  This is the very reason I need to go more.
                I believe I have used every argument I have ever heard on my dad to get him to attend church.  He went a handful of times when I was in high school.  About six years ago, he attended a weekend retreat with the Catholic Church.  I hoped.  I prayed.  I do know he communes with God in his own way specifically when out and about in his garden, on the lake, or in the woods.  My friend communes with God when he reads his Bible.  But, what about community?  To me this is very important.
                I sit by hypocrites every Sunday at Mass and they sit by me, a fellow hypocrite.  Together we lift our voices in praise to God through songs, greetings, and prayer.  We cheer each other through another week of living in a sin-filled world.  We cry together in our struggles of suffering.  Without my church family, my husband’s deployment would have been one hundred times harder.  I wouldn’t have been prayed for as much through my illness.  I need these imperfect people in my life to help me in my own imperfection.
                The real stickler for me comes in the form of communion.  Jesus said to the disciples to take this bread and take this cup in memory of me (Jesus).  In the scene of the last supper, Jesus finished setting up community.  My heart aches for those who don’t know the joy of Eucharist (communion).  No, I don’t know where in the Bible it says that we “HAVE” to attend church.  To tell the truth, I hope it isn’t a deal breaker of getting into heaven because I want my dad, friend, and others I love to enter heaven.  Deep in my heart though, I know it is a deal breaker for me.  I will not get to heaven unless I attend church.  Besides, why wouldn’t I go?  I feel God’s presence when I attend. 
                Blessing to you all.

1 comment:

  1. The hardest thing to remember is that going to church does not make us part of HIS church. The body of Christ is the church, which makes US the church. The buildings we enter each Sunday are just that, buildings of brick and mortar, which will crumble and fall. If that church building were gone tomorrow God's church would still be standing. It's in our hearts, our minds, our souls. I, personally, don't believe that God cares whether or not we attend church every Sunday, Wednesday, etc. BUT He DOES CARE if we attend HIS church DAILY! He wants us to search Him out, to speak His name, lift our praises, our worries, our fears and place them at His feet and in His hands. The Bible says "where 2 or more are gathered in My Name, there I am." Matt.18:20. It doesn't say in a special building, etc. just 2+ souls together with God at the forefront. With all that being said, attending church IS important. Like you said, it gives us cheerleaders, a sense of community, it proves to us that we aren't fighting this battle alone. God wants us to have fellowship, does He care what location we are in when we are partaking of it, I don't believe so. I know far worthier Christians who haven't spent a lifetime stepping inside a church building, but their relationship with God shines and pours out of them brighter than can be believed and far brighter than those who think just stepping inside the building will save them. The ONLY thing that will get me and my boatload of sin into Heaven is the GRACE of God. Eph.2:8-9 I can't earn my way in, I can't attend my way in. I must believe and rely on the Grace of My Father and the blood that paid my price! :D As for Communion, there are those that can take Communion all their lives and NEVER really take Communion. There are moments when our lives become routine, that we partake in a moment not because we are hungry and starving to be a part of it, but because we feel we must. There are times that we fail to understand & appreciate the ENORMOUS sacrifice and symbolism behind it all. The moments our minds wander to what we need to take care of when we get home, or when we finish praying, or reading our daily devotions we have failed to sit properly at the Lord's Table, Our Father's Table. :( Thankfully Our Father, knows and foresees each of our shortcomings, trials, tribulations and failures and He sent His Son out of PURE love for us!

    P.S. LOVE reading your entries. Love you!