04 May 2010

When You're Not There

If I decided one Sunday just to skip Church that week, do you think anyone would notice? Ah, you say, but you're the pastor. Yes, they'd notice. I agree. They would. But it also makes a difference when YOU decide to skip Church this Sunday.

Each Sunday is a gathering of the family - and when a beloved family member doesn't show up for the family gathering and meal at Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, there's a hole, a gap, a pain that everyone feels. We're all the less for that person not being with us to revel in the celebration of that day. Their absence diminishes the joy of the family. So when you choose to skip on Sunday, when you don't come together with your church family to join in offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and to receive the gifts your Lord has for you, it's not just you that miss out. Your extended family - the Church - misses out. They are diminished by your decision to absent yourself. The singing is that much quieter. The "amens" that much softer. The spot where you usually sit and stand reminds us all of your absence.

Surely old Neuhaus was dead right on this: Christian discipleship should begin with a very simple commitment that any given Lord's Day will find you in the assembly of God's people, singing His praise, offering your prayers, receiving His gifts. The only reasons for missing is because you're too sick to be present or because you're away travelling - and even in the later case, blessed are you if you find the family gathered in that location and join with them.

"Let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:25  "I was glad when they said to me:  Let us go to the house of the Lord!" Psalm 122:1

11 comments:

Chris said...

Fr. Weedon,

I recently had this same discussion with an Orthodox friend during Lent, who lamented the loss of family members at our Presanctified Liturgies which were on Wednesday nights. We were lucky to have 20 people there, including priests, chanters and deacons.

At the meal following, however, I told him that we shouldn't lose heart because some members of the family weren't there but we should rejoice all the more because the family members we don't "see" were there and with greater numbers than we can realize. I, of course, refer to the angels and saints who celebrate with us the divine liturgy every time. We have not lost, we have gained. Yes, it is easier to lament those people whom we "personally" know, but our personal knowledge should not be limited to only the saints on earth, but those who have gone to our Lord.

A priest once told me that and it helped to make less worrisome over something that I could never and should never control--someone else's attendance at liturgy.

Just mho.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

You may want to add "ox falling into a well" for why one might miss Church - but other than that - spot on!

Tapani Simojoki said...

And a piece of advise from a devout layman in my youth: if your ox falls into a well only on Sundays, and that most Sundays, you may want to turn it into some juicy steaks and get a new ox.

Jonathan said...

As the Didache says, "do not let the Body of Christ be incomplete by your non-attendance." Puts a different spin on the "Easter Duty," eh?

Sue said...

Some Sundays the devil sits at the end of my bed (or maybe he's peering over my shoulder, I'm not sure) and says, "Sue, you look so cozy in that nice warm bed, with that pretty quilt covering you (nice work, by the way!) You stayed up too late last night, you don't have to go to work today - why don't you just stay in your nice warm bed and skip church today, maybe work on another quilt once you've gotten some more sleep?" Then I remember how much better I feel going to church and Bible class, and how incomplete my whole week feels when I don't. And I boot him out and get up.

Rev. R Salemink said...

Pastor Weedon, with your permission, I would like to use your concept to write a letter to my members who haven't attended in some time. I can send you what I have written, and I assure you I have not copied your writing, but used the idea of when people are absent, the body suffers.

William Weedon said...

Help yourself, Pr. Salemink. May it do some good!

Omar said...

just what I needed to hear =)

It does help to hear from others who can encourage you to return and stay so that you too can enjoy the company of all saints, angels etc.

Just this week I was reminded that I was missed by another congregant. I smiled and was moved to not let my absence be felt again.

Pr. Lehmann said...

With your permission, this is going to take the place of my June newsletter article.

William Weedon said...

You know the ropes, Charlie. Have at it. No permission needed. What's posted on the blog is for the use of Christ's Church in anyway that may prove helpful. Pax!

Pr. Lehmann said...

Thanks! I love the way you put it, and I somehow suspect that hearing from you what they hear from me might have greater effect. You're not the guy they have to listen to every week!