Most Sundays at church I get to stand on the platform at some point and look out at all the brave souls who have made it to church that morning. I say ‘brave’ because I think sometimes (most times?) the well-dressed, sweet-smelling, generally-got-it-together people looking back at me are not really indicative of the true story of what it took to get them there!
For some reason, getting up on a Sunday morning – even an hour later than you probably do for work – can be the hardest task of your week. Kids that neversleep in decided to do it TODAY (or they wake at an hour that is un-godly … even on God’s day!!)! The ‘leisurely’ breakfast went feral when one of the children decided to be ‘helpful’ with a whole box of cereal. The weekly ‘you’re-not-wearing-a-basketball-uniform-to-church’ and the ‘no-you-can’t-wear-your-flowergirl-dress’ (or a combination of both) battles have been waged … with tears … from everyone! Husband/wife decided to drive “that” way instead of “your” way and then parked in the“wrong” place and did that “thing” they always do …etc etc …I’m sure you could all recount your own “special Sunday morning drama” stories – they happen to everyone. But, for the most part, looking out from the platform we see rows and rows of got-it-all-together people singing, praying, nodding and smiling all in the right order and at the right times!
Sometimes I think instead of welcoming people to church we should CONGRATULATE them for making it! Good job everyone! You’re here!! 🙂
But then … then there are those extra ‘special’ mornings! Those mornings where the herculean efforts required getting you to church are rewarded with some kind of melt down once you’re there! Your “little treasure” decides they don’t want to go to kids’ church today. Children #2&3 battle over a piece of Lego during the second song resulting in blood, tears and red faces all round. Your toddler decides that they can’t possibly be separated from you for even a minute and the baby chooses *then* for an unexplained, inconsolable scream-fest that ‘banishes’ you to the parenting room for 85% of the service.
“Why do we even bother?”
The writer of Hebrews says we shouldn’t neglect meeting together – but that we should ENCOURAGE and spur one another on. (Hebrews 10:25)
Gathering together as church is a blessing for us and a gift for others. We come together to RECEIVE from community, from prayer and reflection, from our church family serving us in many different ways, and from the opportunity to experience and encounter God in worship and through His Word. But we also come to GIVE that to others.
The discipline of regular church attendance and engagement is inextricably linked to discipleship and maturing in faith. It’s God’s plan for us that we would ‘do church’ (come together with other believers) in order to equip us to ‘be the church’ – gathered AND scattered as we move throughout the week in various places of work, family and community engagement.
Church brings together generations, nationalities, genders and ages that all have much to contribute to and learn from one another. Church provides us with living testimonies of God’s faithfulness in all seasons and circumstances as they are represented amongst us. It reminds us that we are not alone in our pursuit of God. It provides family relationships for those who are disconnected from their biological family. We can find mentors and friends and people to journey with us, who we can learn from or teach. Church encourages us in our witness to others and resources us in our capacity to share the life-changing message of Jesus with others.
Jesus loves the church! I love the church! A love for the church is an incredible gift we can give our children.
Each Sunday is another opportunity to speak the value of church to your family. In spite of how difficult it is to sometimes even get there and how challenging it can be to stay there the benefit and blessing of regular church attendance and engagement is sufficient incentive to persist.
So, if you make it to church on a Sunday, pause to give yourself a big congratulatory high five. “At least you came!”
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