It used to be that going to Sunday worship was the default for Christians. You went unless you were sick, or had to travel out of town. As kids, most of us just accepted it as another adult insistence, like wearing boots or going to the dentist. You didn’t have to like it – you just did it, or else…
I realize that most members of Christian churches no longer think of worship as an obligation. People come when they have a task to do, or when there’s a program that’s interesting, or when there’s not much else going on. Few people feel guilty when they miss a Sunday, or even a few Sundays in a row.
I don’t want to revive guilt as a reason to come to church. Life offers us lots of opportunities to feel badly about ourselves. But I do want to offer a reason for worship attendance that might be new to you: mystery.
We spend most of our lives looking for predictability, especially at the beginning of year, when we try new routines to get thinner, fitter, more organized and more productive. We use app filters to try to slow down the fire hose of information coming at us. We shop at the same grocery store, so we can find things quickly and get home. We pre-program our television to record the shows we want to watch.
But worship is just the opposite of all that. In worship, we never quite know what will happen. Even I don’t know, and I’m leading it! A phrase from a hymn, a few seconds of sitting in silence, a word in the Scripture reading, a conversation at coffee hour, the sight of a child lighting candles – any one of those things might start a conversation thread between you and God. In church, we have the time and the setting to let God work on us and show us things we might not be looking for. In worship, we attend for a while to things we didn’t choose, and God speaks to us in ways we cannot anticipate.
Come not because you must, but because you may. And see what mystery God will reveal to you alone…Peace, Leigh