Sunday morning and I am in my work out clothes debating on which or if a work out will happen. Sundays have shifted so much for me in the recent years. This is the cause for much reflection each week. This week/morning, I am reflecting on how again it is appointment season (if you are UMC you know what this means) and I am not in the appointment system again. Unlike previous appointment seasons though, I am seeing more clergy retire and take leave than it feels like normal. This year, it is clear that the church is asking too much of our tired and exhausted clergy without recognizing the work that they are doing. The church is shifting so quickly as it should have done before. The church is dying as it should have done years before in order to create something new.
Bold statements I know but this morning I am again choosing not to attend church. Many have moved back online but the church I would attend if I chose to hasn’t yet. They will next week but the numbers are too high for me to comfortably think about attending in person. And to be completely honest, while I miss some people, I haven’t really been missing attending church.
There are many churches trying to figure out why people haven’t returned but to be honest, it is no mystery to me. It hasn’t made sense for me to attend church in a while. I love community. I haved loved the church and yet I don’t miss what feels like the preformative nature of the church lately and needs unfulfilled. When I was clergy I whole heartedly believed that church was what you put into it but the church has some responsibility as well and it means not allowing itself to become toxic for its attendees either and to meet them where they are on some level.
Instead, Sundays, for me have become about cherishing a day of down time with my loved one. My family zooms each Sunday and that has become holy and sacred. I tune into a few churches online although that now feels fairly distant. Sometimes I preach from afar which is always interesting. I pray for my colleagues still in the midst of trying to do all of the things, with an even larger load during covid and more decisions to make on a daily basis. Sundays have become a time of long walks and long coffees. Today we get to meet some new babies born in the Fall and now have the capacity to meet us. Of course, we will test before going over to our friends home and wear our masks. We will be cautious but still we are excited about saying hello to two little boys who were so yearned for and anticipated.
All of this to say that I will not be going to church today but the spirit of the holy will certainly be present.
What have Sundays become for you?