Image Credit: Spokesman-Review
Memorial Day 2018 is now in the past and we are officially in the beginning of the summer season! Many of us traveled to be with family and friends over the weekend, to host or join in meals and celebrations. And over the next few months, we will do the same again and again, celebrating confirmations and graduations, holidays like Independence Day and Labor Day, and getting together just for the sake of being with people we know and love.
As we enter the summer months, with all the gatherings and vacations and travel, I want you to know something most pastors won’t tell you. Are you ready? It’s going to be a shocker…
It’s ok to miss church.
WHAT?! How…? Who does he think he is? DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT??!?
I sure did! And I’ll say it again.
It is ok to miss church. Now I’m not saying that it’s ok to stop attending church services one Sunday morning and never return. We certainly need to be plugged into worshiping communities and find life-giving ways that we connect to God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. But missing a few Sundays here and there when other events pop up is not something to feel ashamed of or guilty about.
We gather as a worshiping assembly for two major reasons. The first is to connect with God through our music, prayer, preaching, and sacraments. In the liturgy (the order of service we follow), we find comfort in familiarity and are challenged in seeing God in new ways. The second is to be in community and fellowship with others, sharing the experiences of life and faith in a common language we understand.
These experiences are centered in the church for many people, but many others find connection to God and community in other places. And as we vacation and enjoy special events over the summer months, we can remember God is with us and we can create community everywhere we go.
So here’s a summer challenge for you, from me, with the intent of helping you to experience faith more broadly than you may be used to. If you’re travelling on a Sunday and happen to have the opportunity, try visiting a different congregation in whatever area of the world you happen to be. You’ll be surprised in the many ways churches are similar, yet different, and this will help you to see how the BIG church (as in, the body of Christ incorporating all believers) functions outside of the barriers of our conceptions. If you can’t get to a church on a given Sunday, try some faith practices on your own or with the people around you. Pray, meditate, read scripture, tell faith stories, sing, etc. Create the community of worship around you! Heck, you might even try doing this on more days than just Sunday, because creating community around Christ is a pretty cool experience!
Wherever the road may take you this summer, keep in mind that God is with you, Christ is with you, and St. Peter Lutheran Church is with you. With these reminders, I hope you feel confident leading lives full of experiences that relate to the faith we hold in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Peace and Blessings upon you and yours,
Intern Pastor Seth