This is weird. Sunday morning. No church. I realize that much of America experiences this every weekend, but for a pastor this is just weird. The snow was drifting so services were cancelled last night. That meant that I could, basically, sleep in today. On Sunday.
I thought of finding a church who hadn't cancelled services this morning, but my wife is gone and I have a sick child. So now I get to experience a Sunday morning at home.
The Sunday paper is still outside. I don't figure it's much different reading it at 9:00 Sunday morning than at 1:00 Sunday afternoon anyway. The radio is playing praise music. A different station is broadcasting a Lutheran service from Ft. Wayne. Nice, but they sure have a lot of announcements to go through. The TV schedule has a few Christian services on. I see these sometimes on Sunday evenings. Right now, James Kennedy's choir is decked out in blue with an operatic tenor singing. Before that, there was a good praise band which was leading what looked like a couple thousand in worship. A couple thousand looks foreign to this small church pastor. I've worshiped in small churches and medium churches. I've been part of a 60,000 man choir at PromiseKeepers. But a church that big looks both incredibly exciting and absolutely foreign.
But I can handle any size group in worship, provided it is a time of worship and not simply a time of going through the motions. On a Sunday morning at home, I have no regular routine. It would be easy enough to work my way into a weekday routine and forget God again today. That is, have a quick prayer and get to the housework or the bookwork. But somehow I just need a time of worship. And it's not something that watching a pastor on TV is going to satisfy. It's a time of refilling that an evening devotional doesn't do. It's a time of expressing myself to my Creator that can be substitued with nothing else.
I don't know how people call themselves Christian without attending church. I know too well the temptations of pushing God to the back burner, and often right off the stove. I have to deal with the urging to immerse myself in self, just like everybody else does. And I know that occasionally picking up a Bible, wiping the dust off, and reading something for a few minutes doesn't nourish a soul any more than being a starving man served a meal consisting of a single lima bean. And I smile quietly when I hear someone say that they don't attend a church but they pray and read the Bible. . . then I feel sorry for the person who is only fooling himself.
God is so easy to ignore when we allow the world to crowd Him out. When the demands of work get heavy it's easy to push God away and get some more work finished. When the kids have another activity which keeps you out too late, it's almost natural to head to bed instead of offering God some of that time. Hey, when there's something good on TV God becomes suddenly less important far too often. And when there's a snowstorm which forces worship services to be called off, it's far too easy to consider it a "day off from God" and try to drink in more time for yourself. And it feels good. . . for a while. But it doesn't satisfy. Not like worship will satisfy. Satisfy the longing a soul has for its Creator.
At home or in a church building; morning or evening; Sunday or any other day of the week; God asks for our worship. And our soul yearns to do just that.