There are some Christians who like to spend every spare moment, especially weekends, involved in recreation; sports, in the woods, on water, all kinds of places and doing all kinds of things other than attending Church.
I know there are times when it is easier for some Christians to stay home, be angry at clergy, other parishioners, take a break — or just be too tired from their 24/7 workday in the salt mines or wherever, to be at Church services…Many a hunter have told me of the closeness they feel to the Almighty in a deer stand, or hunting Fowl of some kind, and I am sure that is true.
Are children, the decisions they make, the lives they are choosing, better because they have not been, or are not being, taken to Church?
Our society no longer seems to grasp that what spiritually feeds a person constitutes the very foundation of that person. We are training people to take but not give back, implying by our expectations, actions, and words, that their presence in Church is not important, really does not matter. Many decry that we are “no longer a Judeo-Christian Society.” Why would we be shocked, we no longer are living as such a society, nor professing it by the practice of our Church attendance.
We as Christians must ask ourselves if in our community, neighborhood, society-at-large, those institutions we claim to love and care about, those values we say that we stand for, have been strengthened or improved because we are not present in Church?
Is our witness to the One we claim to be central to our lives better by our not being present in Church — is anyone’s life, is our own? All those activities, the things we place before our relationship to Christ and His Body, are they really on the same par for us as the practice of our faith?
When we attend Church, we are upholding by our action that we have faith in God, a system of morals, ethics, and a framework of belief. We affirm that we have love and concern for our neighbor, as well as for ourselves. Our presence in Church professes all the things we say we believe in and ask God to uphold, bless, and protect.
By being in Church we are saying that we see there is something beyond just “me.” We are saying, there is a way of life, a value system, something that is more than “my” animal instincts and satisfaction. It undergirds the meaning to our government as “One Nation Under God.”
By attending Church we are not saying we are perfect, instead we are striving to be the people we say we want to be, upholding a system of faith and a way of life, by being present, affirming, worshiping, and offering praise to the glory of God. We gather as His Body — Upholding ourselves and others, empowering one another.
When we have to “sell” Church attendance to one another as Christians, then the problem is not with the Church, but with our society, and those Christians within it who need to be sold.
The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.
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