Every now and then I don’t want to go to church on Sunday morning.
I’ve had a bad week, a poor night’s sleep or I’m just plain grouchy, and I don’t want to talk to anyone.
But, I go anyway, though I still don’t talk to anyone — I talk to everyone.
Whatever foul mood bedevils me dissipates like morning fog at sunrise. Try as I might, I just can’t stay grouchy past the first smile and handshake. I hope it’s the same for everyone who follows me up the walk. Someone greets me with a sincere, “Good morning,” and instantly it is, and I get to pass that same sentiment along to every regular member and visitor who comes through the front door.
Folks come to church for lots of reasons. Foremost should be to honor and worship God, but I know that’s not all there is to it.
Some folks come just because they know they should, and some because someone makes them. I’ve been both of those folks. Others may show up because it’s good politics or good business in a small town. I hope that’s more myth than truth.
When I was a boy I went to church because my mother made me. I didn’t have to go only on those Sundays when Dad wanted me to go fishing with him. Mom didn’t say much, but I know she thought it.
By my early teens I became more inclined to make church because of the girls in my Sunday school class, but after leaving home for college I didn’t go at all — except when I came back home.
While in college, though, I met a good Baptist girl (I was a Methodist) from South Dakota who persuaded me to go with her to church some Sunday evening. Heck, I would have gone to church or anywhere with her. I’d have walked, ran or crawled over hot cinders. Three months later, we were married in that same church. I expect a lot of guys can tell similar tales. I’d wager young Christian ladies have likely won more young men to the Lord than any slick-haired Christian evangelists have — I would, but I don’t actually make bets.
I’d like to claim I’ve been a faithful church-goer every Sunday since that first date with my late Dakota bride Dee, but I haven’t. We both ran hot and cold for a number of years, but mostly hot.
For a goodly number of those years, I had trouble wanting to go because I didn’t enjoy the thrashings I took every service. But, my perspectives changed over time, due in part to life-altering personal losses, but mostly due to my discovery of a well-kept secret in the Scriptures — a little thing called “grace.”
Oh, it’s not a secret? Who knew?
I also found a minor change in my personal focus altered my church relationship 180 degrees. Instead of wondering what I could get out of it, I began to look at what I could put into it. Next thing I knew I was a Gideon (the Bible guys) and talking in other churches about their international ministry.
That was 20 years ago. I don’t do as much with Gideons as once I did, but I don’t ever have to decide where I ought to be on Sunday mornings. Folks go to church for lots of reasons, and stay home for lots of other reasons. I’ve likely been every one of those folks at sometime or another, but these days I don’t have to think about it.
It’s just the right thing to do — even when I wake up grouchy.
Besides, Martha would go by herself if I stayed home, and that wouldn’t be right, either.
Jim Hamilton is a freelance writer and former editor of the Buffalo Reflex. Contact him at email@example.com. ©️ James E. Hamilton, 2020.