Did I mention H is on sabbatical? No? Hmmm….
His sabbatical began on Christmas Day and we got up early to catch a 5:45 AM flight to Pennsylvania. I highly recommend traveling on Christmas Day, on the first flight out of your local airport. It was easy breezy. No delays. No crowds. Everyone was smiling. Later in the day, however, our son flew out and encountered delays and missed connections and malfunctioning equipment and flight crews who timed out and he didn’t arrive in Pennsylvania until the day after Christmas. That first flight out thing is key. But, I digress.
We flew to Pennsylvania because our daughter was preaching her first sermon in the church where she works. It was a big deal, and she did a fabulous job, and going to church that Sunday was a no-brainer.
But, last Sunday — Epiphany Sunday! — we were back home in Lincoln and, with H on sabbatical, we couldn’t go to our own church and we had to figure out what to do with a Sunday morning where no one was expecting us anywhere. So we took them up on the offer, and we didn’t go anywhere.
Now, here’s the thing about that. I had all sorts of emotions about not going to church. Mostly, I was relieved. And then I was embarrassed because I was relieved. And then I felt guilty, so I started to look for church services to attend. And that’s where things got really sticky because, how does a person choose a church to attend? Especially when no one has invited you?
How do you know what to wear? Or how long the service will last? Or if the preacher will get on your nerves? How do you make the choice to invest a good portion of your Sunday morning in something when you have no idea how it will turn out? And, let’s face it, you never get those precious hours back. And for me, I have to ask myself if I want to go to a church where I’ll most likely be the only person of color in attendance. And if you have children, how do you know if the church has child care, and if they do have child care, well, who’s in charge of that? Or, maybe you prefer to have your child in church with you, but will people turn and stare if your child makes a noise in the service? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because, what if the people at the church come up to you in the hallway before church and ask you questions about your “faith walk” or your “journey” or invite you to their cell group? Or what if they completely ignore you? Or make you “pass the peace?”
Honestly, I don’t know how people do it. I don’t know how people make it past the pancakes and coffee and the Sunday paper on their kitchen table and figure out how to find a church, and actually go there, and then do it again the next week, and then keep doing it until that church becomes a comfortable place and the people become like family and they settle in and serve and worship and grow together. It’s more than a notion, people. And I’ve got ten more Sundays to figure it out.
What about you? Do you go to church on Sundays? How did you find your church, or did your church find you? I really need to know.