jesus fish

December 3, 2012

When Church is Hard

Filed under: Old Testament, Songs of Ascents — Karen @ 6:04 am
The Bible wastes very little time on the way we feel. Paul Scherer

I did not grow up in a church going family. Our churchly excursions were limited to the Christmas and Easter services at the Church of Christ that my grandmother attended on occasion. Mom thought that this was important for some reason. My brother and I also attended a variety of Vacation Bible School programs in the summer. We were always good for “visitor points” for the inviting cousin. The Methodists had the best crafts. Baptists had the best snacks.

My parents had the typical list of reasons for not attending church on a regular basis: 1) Christians are hypocritical (I didn’t really know what meant when I was a kid but I knew it was something bad), 2) Sunday is the only day that we had time to do things as a family, 3) variations on 1) and 2). Christmas/Easter services did nothing to change that opinion. We had to wake up early and get dressed up. We were always late because we weren’t sure when the service started (11:00? 10:45?). Church people sang funny songs and, since it was Church of Christ, there was no piano.

Worship was an entirely voluntary experience after I came to Christ. Nobody made me go to church. The weekly ritual became engrained in my habit of life. Over the past 35 years, very few weeks have passed without participation in some sort of communal worship.

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Psalm 122:1

That is not to say that my worship experience has always been joyful. There is a very difficult situation in my congregation at this moment. I certainly do not feel glad when I walk into the sanctuary (dread would be a better description). But I continue to participate in Sunday services.

Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
Psalm 122:3-4

Verse 4 makes me smile. There are certainly tribes in my church: social cliques, family groups, church insiders, newcomers, senior citizens, empty nesters, young couples, youth. When I look out on the congregation from the choir loft on Sunday morning, I see trusted friends who would literally do anything for me. I see people who refuse to speak to me (thanks to the current “situation”). I see people that are strangers to me. We each claim a place in some sort of tribe.

We come together, despite our differences, to worship God. Our presence in this place is a statement that our shared faith overcomes the petty conflicts that cloud human relationship.


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