I didn't go to church this morning. It was raining heavily, and I didn't want to walk to church in the rain. I called one lady who goes to my church and asked if she could give me a ride, and she said that she wasn't going to church, either! I could have made a couple of more phone calls in looking for a ride, but I didn't want to bother or inconvenience anybody. Plus, I'm rather shy.
I miss anything? Well, I like going to church because it is a change
of pace. It is an opportunity for me to get out of the house, to listen
to music, to hear a thoughtful sermon, and to greet and be greeted.
There have been times when I have wanted to sleep in. In the case of
this morning, a part of me wanted to snuggle up with a book while it was
raining outside, and perhaps even to take a nap. But, as the day goes
on, I wish that I had gone to church this morning.
was a time when missing church did not particularly bother me. This
was when I was an undergraduate in college. Back then, I wasn't an
all-or-nothing type of guy. I realized that I could miss a service, or
two, or three, or more, and that didn't mean that I'd be thoroughly
retreating into my shell, dropping out of the church, or ditching
Christianity altogether, for I could still go back after months of being
away. One reason that there were spans in which I did not go to church
was that I was simply too tired on Saturday mornings. (It was a
Seventh-Day Adventist church.) But, because I was an undergraduate and
it wasn't that far back when I had lived at home, my family's practice
when it came to church was still a significant part of me. My family
would go to church occasionally: we would be weeks away, and then we
would decide to attend a service.
went to Harvard Divinity School, I went to church every week. I had a
variety of motivations for this. For one, as a conservative evangelical
at the time, I regarded Harvard Divinity School as a godless
place----an excellent school, with some professors who were serious
about their Christian or Jewish faith, but a godless place. I
figured that I needed to go to church to find spiritual support.
Moreover, that was the first time that I was truly away from home. My
undergraduate school was a brief drive away from where I grew up, and I
could go home any weekend. In Boston, I could not do that. My church
was my family away from home.
As I look
back, it is amazing that I went to church every week in those days.
(Or, actually, I was there the vast majority of weeks. I skipped church
to hear Alan Keyes and Richard John Neuhaus when they spoke at Harvard
Law School.) I had a busy schedule in those days. Why didn't I just
sleep in, as I did as an undergraduate for many weeks? Well, I was more
committed to religion when I was at HDS. I could also say that, even
on Saturday mornings when I was going to church, I technically was
sleeping in. Ordinarily, I got up at 5 or 6 to go through my Hebrew
flashcards or to study for tests, so getting up at 8:30 to go to church
was sleeping in for me. Yet, as an undergraduate, I got up early during
the week to study or do my reading, and I didn't go to church every
week in those days. What made my HDS days so different?
I lived in New York City, I got to the point where I was going to
church every week. There were a couple of months when I was not going
to church, and I felt lost in those days. I just felt there was a hole
in my weekends! I got to the point where I was attending a liberal
Adventist church on Saturdays, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church on
Sundays. I liked going to church on Saturday morning and coming home
for a nice Sabbath nap, or going to church on Sunday morning and getting
a hot dog or an egg-and-salami sandwich after church.
I lived in Cincinnati, there was a vast stretch of time when I did not
go to church. There were a variety of reasons for this. For one, Tim
Keller (the preacher at Redeemer, in New York City) was a tough act to
follow! I also did not want to go through the tedium of church
shopping, and I avoided mainline Protestant churches, since I didn't
consider them biblical enough. I was enjoying my weekly quiet times
through Scripture at home, so part of me felt that I didn't need
church. But a part of me wanted to be a part of a church community, for
I felt that I was missing something by not being in one. Eventually, I
got into the routine of attending Latin mass, and also a couple of
spiritual fellowship groups.
Where I live
now, I have gone to church every week, with a couple of exceptions, this
week being one of them. But I'll be going to Bible study this coming
Thursday, so that will be good.
Consequentialism for me but not for thee
12 minutes ago