I did a really weird thing yesterday.
OK, I know. For most people this is normal, but for me, it was… strange…
I didn’t go to church yesterday morning.
The thing is, it wasn’t even like I was doing anything exciting, like a marathon, or on holiday. All I did was faff too much in the morning and completely messed up my timings.
When I realised I wasn’t going to make it to church, I was on new territory. I had to figure out what to do other than ensuring I went to church in the evening.
Making good use of the time was a must, since it was time I had used improperly in the first place. Through the day I did what felt like a ton of housework, but I didn’t nearly achieve everything I could have. I listened to a John Piper sermon. At 11 (10 past in reality thanks to some washing), the time of the service I was due to be at, I sat down to prepare for Christianity Explored. This all ensured I was still learning and reading the bible and making best possible use of the time.
So Sunday morning was weird. I didn’t like it. I missed church. Church can be difficult, especially as a shy, depressive introvert. It is always an… experience. Often I have gone to church feeling wretched, fully aware of how I have wasted yet another week. I have always come out refreshed, with an uplifted soul. Often I have gone feeling pretty good about myself, and am reminded of how wretched I am and how much I need Christ. Church is a place where people accept me, despite my awkwardness. It is a place where I am reminded that God is in control, that I am loved, and that I can have hope for tomorrow (nay, this afternoon!)
When we read an ancient creed out loud, together (cultish sounding? perhaps), something amazing happens. As we read I am reminded of the essential facts about my faith, and that these are truths unchanged. I stand on solid ground, together with my congregation.
When I sing with my congregation, my soul is turned away from me, and so is healed. This is despite that one person singing loudly and out of tune/time; my reservations about the band set-up or hymn arrangement; my doubts; or my self-conscious singing during the psalms – as we sing these a capella, there is nowhere to hide and I don’t wanna be that guy. There have been times when I have stared furiously at the hymn sheet/book in front of me torn between not singing out of honesty to my thoughts and forcing myself to sing despite these doubts to to spite and loosen them.
During the sermon, I am fed meat. A proper steak. Through the week I read titbits of bible (or junk food), a canapé if you like. Amazingly tasty stuff – gives energy, but small. The sermon gives (in a good church), proper life sustaining meat that cuts to the heart but makes it thank God for sending Jesus, who is at the centre of it all.
And the digestif? Coffee and biscuits with friends, old and new. Some of these friends are grey-haired, some have families; all are wired differently to me. But it doesn’t matter because we are family. I can so often find this difficult, as adam4d exposed so greatly here, but breaking out my shell is pretty much always rewarding.
And you just don’t get that sitting on your sofa with your coffee and bible.