What's so special about Sunday Morning?
The house is still quiet and the coffee is brewing and I'm thinking about the fact that it is Sunday morning. Soon I will make the porridge, maybe even with some blueberries in it, and everyone will wake up. We will eat and get ready to go to church.
I like how neat and tidy that looks on paper. In reality, there will be squabbles about turns in the bathroom, someone won't be able to find their shoes, the brother will bother his sisters and the sisters will bother their brother and the mom and the dad will get annoyed and we will be running late and the sink will be piled with dirty dishes, but we will gather our Bibles and pile into the van and go to church.
And... I am anticipating this day.
What is so special about going to church?
Some have called church a 'social club'. They assume people go simply to be with other people, to get together with their friends and plan mid-week activities in order to socialize.
That isn't entirely untrue. Certainly there have been times in my past when I have wanted to go because my friends were there. It isn't the greatest or best motivation for going to church, but it isn't entirely wrong to want to go because of the bonds of friendship - to meet with other believers, people you can share your heart with and learn with and learn from.
However, we are relatively new at our church. The people there are still only acquaintances. Everyone is friendly and I appreciate that, but I find that I am not really looking forward to seeing anyone in particular. The social factor is not part of my anticipation this morning.
Sometimes people enjoy going to church because of the sense of importance it gives them. They are a Sunday School teacher or a musician, or an organizer and they can bustle around meeting with people and planning and they feel a sense of ownership because in this domain they are necessary and relevant.
That sounds rather harsh. It certainly isn't always that way. People do serve out of pure hearts too. But if I am going to be honest, I will admit that there is a sense of importance that can creep into your heart when you have responsibilities and people need to talk to you and you need to talk to people and you know where things are and people come to you when they have questions. It is a nice feeling to be an integral part of something.
Again this is not the greatest or best motivation for attending church, but it certainly isn't wrong to be involved and to take part in various service opportunities. It is a wonderful way to exercise the gifts that God has given and to serve others; however, it shouldn't be the main motivation for attending church - to show off our abilities and feel important.
Since we are new to the church and I have no responsibilities and I don't know where anything is yet, I can honestly say that I am not anticipating church because of the sense of importance it gives me.
So why do I want to go today?
The music is good. This congregation is really good at singing. Sometimes I just stop singing and listen as the music swells around me. People really belt it out. It is wonderful.
The pastor is a good teacher. He is personal, not too formal, just down to earth and says it like it is. He studies, prepares and shares from his heart.
The Sunday school is bursting with children. I am thrilled that my children get to be a part of such a large group of children.
These are all reasons I enjoy going, but above all I simply enjoy the opportunity to meet with a group of people who also want to worship God and learn from His Word. We go because we love God. We are the Christ-followers. We long for relationship. Relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and with each other.
I don't know these people that I gather with, but they too have woken up on a weekend morning and had their own Sunday morning routines (maybe as noisy and flustered as ours) and have gathered within the walls of the church building to be fed from the Word of God, to be refreshed by the words of the songs we sing, to be reminded of the greatness of the God we love, and to be encouraged in our walk of faith.
I can pray and read my Bible and listen to pastors online, but it doesn't have the same affect on my spiritual growth as actually meeting with the Body of Christ - the church - meeting in a church building. When God directed us to meet together, He clearly understood that this is something that we need. (And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24, 25), We need the encouragement of flesh and blood people that we can speak to and meet at the grocery store or the hardware store and we know that they have heard the same words we have heard and sung the same songs we have sung and we serve the same God and therefore we expect that our behaviour and words will reflect this and our lives will share the same standards and priorities. There is something purifying and necessary about this link that is formed within the walls of the church. There is accountability created.
We know that God can see us at all times, but somehow, since we cannot see Him we find it easy to ignore this fact. But when a person sees us behaving in an ungodly fashion we are reminded that our actions matter and we feel shame if we know, that they know, this isn't the correct way to behave and we are caught and we feel the conviction of our sin.
Accountability is necessary, but so is the caring and the love that is part of the church. To be part of a church, is to be part of a family. People pray for each other, they help each other in practical ways. To be part of this family, is to be cared for and encouraged, and no longer alone in our daily walk with God.
I am anticipating this Sunday morning. I look forward to meeting with this body of believers, even though I do not know them well. This morning I will go and learn with them and worship God with them and we will all meet with God together and grow in grace and knowledge..... together.