I did not go to church yesterday and I got to thinking about it. I love church. I see value in church and community building. I need worship in my life. I am an ordained elder in the UMC and have dedicated much of my life to church and building the kingdom of God here. I grew up in church and fell in love with so many aspects of church.
And yet, yesterday, I chose not to go. I could have gone and I actively chose not to. I realized that perhaps others could connect or find helpful tidbits in the reasons I didn’t go…I know I would have like to have heard when I was in active parish ministry. I get it now so much more and if I, the church loving, value finding, long time going, church person chose to not go perhaps we need to look again….
So here are some reasons I actively chose not to go to church yesterday….
- To get to the church that I go to when I go to church I need to get on the Ubahn train to the Yorkstrasse stop and then walk a few blocks to the church. I have had a crazy week that has taken me all over the city. Yesterday was the absolutely only day in many and would be in many that I didn’t have to get on public transit. I couldn’t fathom walking down to the train station, waiting for the train, and crowding onto the train yesterday. Seems petty but its really not. Its a thing.
- Almost every time I go to church now, because people have gotten to know me a little bit more, I hear from at least one person, usually male, “Ohhhh, she decided to come today even though she’s not in charge of something.” Almost every single time. I chuckle and smile and say, “Oh, I come to church sometimes.” hehe and then I secretly feel how awkward that conversation was and how it was meant to shame me into coming more. Jokes about how someone “never comes” will never shame someone into coming more. For me, it actually pushes me away more. I didn’t want to hear the joke yesterday.
- The format of traditional church is really starting to get to me. Its good for many things, hear me out BUT the lack of connection throughout a service and lack of connection to other parts of a church service are starting to wear thin in my own spiritual development. There are rarely things that I go to anymore that are sometimes thrown together and lack connection to what is happening in my life or connection to each other. There are rarely things that I choose to go to anymore in which I sit facing forward with the expectation of participating but not connecting.
- There were other forms of worship that appealed more to me yesterday than worship in a church worship setting….spending some intentional time meditating, walking with my dogs in the beautiful fall colors and temps in the leaves, spending intentional time with my partner, spending time with a dear friend…they all won out over getting to church yesterday and I still felt as though I honored God in my intentionality.
- I woke up and just didn’t want to and I didn’t have to and in my life right now I get to honor that. We have a bajillion choices in what we are offered to do these days and if this community isn’t something I wake up wanting to connect with then I honor that as well.
What I did miss because I didn’t go…
- I must admit I missed some things because I didn’t attend and felt as though I need to go soon to reconnect. First of all, I am getting attached to the people in this particular place and community with all of their flaws and foibles. It is nice to be known. It is lovely to give hugs and receive hugs when I go. I missed that yesterday.
- Intentional exploration of scripture in a communal setting. I missed sitting in the pew and hearing the words of the bible wash over me in a place where I am spending time to listen and ponder and think about the words of scripture.
- Singing. There is nothing like communal singing and I do have a love of hymns.
So another Sunday I will return and I will enjoy things I missed this Sunday and in the meantime I will keep pondering the whys and the whats. 🙂