I haven't been to church in four weeks, which is probably my longest church-drought for over twenty years.
My absence from church wasn't planned. The first two Sundays, we were on vacation out of town. The third Sunday, I had an unbreakble work commitment. Last Sunday, Ron, Kevin and Andrea played a special, celebratory round of golf, and I was home alone. I opted to drink coffee and savor the sacred silence.
We'll be back in the pews this Sunday. That was never in question.
What is in question is how I feel, separated from church for a month. The answer? I feel just fine, thank you. But there is something I miss...
I don't feel guilty, of course, as I know God loves me, and is present with me wherever I may wander. And I know that God doesn't keep a scorecard on my church attendance.
I don't miss the soaring music, as I have many dozens of praise songs here on my handy laptop.
I don't miss the sermons, even though the sermons at our church are heartfelt, meaningful and attention-holding. I've heard sermons for over forty years. In truth, I've likely reached my lifetime mandatory minimum number of sermons, if there is such a quota.
I don't miss sprucing up on Sunday mornings, when I could be home, sans makeup and wearing my comfiest clothes.
I don't miss being asked to donate time and treasure to this or that or something else. I don't mind helping out, and do so with a cheerful heart, happy to do my part. But I don't need to go to church to find opportunities to give. The world is full of need and hurt.
What I miss are the smiles and hugs of friends, and mine for them. I miss catching up with others. I miss being greeted by pastors who know my name. I miss being part of Christian community... worshipping, singing, clapping, laughing, mourning, talking, celebrating, sipping coffee together.
We're not lonely people. We have a few very close friends, and we have plenty of family. We're blessed with friendly neighbors, and have plenty of work compadres.
But there's something special... something spiritually uplifting... about being together with others in Christ. And being bound together with our Christian family in common causes.
Sometimes, it's good to realize once again what we value in church attendance.
Can't wait to get back this Sunday...