I miss church when I miss church.
I mean, it’s a habit I’ve established over a lot of years, and I’m not happy when something happens that breaks the pattern. I feel like I’ve missed a meal, or like I made an appointment and then didn’t keep it. Like I was starting out on a week-long trip but didn’t put gas in the car.
I’ve learned that if I’ve had a hard week, there will likely be someone there who has seen God work in a wondrous way and I can soak up some of their spiritual energy. Or maybe my week has gone well but someone else has struggled. My testimony may encourage them. It works both ways. If I had missed it, one of us might have missed what we needed. Either way I miss something if I miss church.
Then there’s the music. I love to join the congregation, especially if it’s a grand praise anthem. When the five parts – soprano, alto, tenor, bass, and nondescript – raise their united voices I have the sense the angels love to join in. If I miss church I miss the honor of bringing Him that adoration. “O, Come Let Us Adore Him…” It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
But the morning prayer time, that’s when I get the sense that I have been swept into His presence. Someone at the front is speaking on my behalf but my heart is in echo-mode. We praise God for who He is, for what He’s done. We use words here we don’t use any other time in the week nor for anyone else. We try to grasp His greatness, understand His heart so we resonate with His passions, His will. We do not seek to send Him on our errands, we plead that He will make us available so we can go on His.
We plead for the lost, the least, and the last and ask that He will help us know how we, as heart-driven under-shepherds, can help love them home. This conversation with the King can never run too long for me; He and I have so much to discuss…and I need help in learning to listen. But think with me of what I would have missed had I not been there.
By this time I’m ready to hear from His Word and I have intentionally come to church hungry. I am encouraged to know that the pastor has walked all week by the side of the One who wrote the very Book. It’s not so much a Book that tells me what to do as it is a Book that tells me what’s already been done. What if I had not been there to peer into the heart of God and have the trajectory of my life changed? I’d have missed so much that I cannot afford to miss if I had chosen to miss church.