Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wise Words from Pastor Weedon

When addressing the subject of "skipping Church," we often focus our attention and energy on reminding people of what they are missing out on when they absent themselves from the Divine Service.  I know this has been my main focus when talking with people who are either inactive or whose attendance is sporadic.  I remind them that when they choose to skip the Divine Service, they are missing out on the Divine Gifts our Lord delivers through His Holy Word and Sacraments, which are the blessed means of grace through which our Lord strengthens and preserves us in the faith, providing us with the sustenance we need as we journey through the wilderness of this sinful world on our way to the Promised Land.  I also draw their attention to the fact that they are also missing out on the blessings which flow from the fellowship they share with their brothers and sisters in Christ, reminding them that the Christian faith is not meant to be lived out individualistically in a "me and my Jesus" kind of way, but within the blessings of the communion of the saints.

All of this is well and good and should be part of our catechetical exhortation to those who are in the habit of skipping the Divine Service.  But, Pr. Weedon reminds us that there is another aspect here to be considered, namely the effect absenting oneself from the Divine Service has on those who do gather together.  He is so right, and I'm thankful for the wisdom he has shared in this regard, and will use that wisdom in the future.

Anyway, here's what Pr. Weedon had to say about this:
If I decided one Sunday just to skip Church that week, do you think anyone would notice? Ah, you say, but you're the pastor. Yes, they'd notice. I agree. They would. But it also makes a difference when YOU decide to skip Church this Sunday.

Each Sunday is a gathering of the family - and when a beloved family member doesn't show up for the family gathering and meal at Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, there's a hole, a gap, a pain that everyone feels. We're all the less for that person not being with us to revel in the celebration of that day. Their absence diminishes the joy of the family. So when you choose to skip on Sunday, when you don't come together with your church family to join in offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and to receive the gifts your Lord has for you, it's not just you that miss out. Your extended family - the Church - misses out. They are diminished by your decision to absent yourself. The singing is that much quieter. The "amens" that much softer. The spot where you usually sit and stand reminds us all of your absence.

Surely old Neuhaus was dead right on this: Christian discipleship should begin with a very simple commitment that any given Lord's Day will find you in the assembly of God's people, singing His praise, offering your prayers, receiving His gifts. The *only* reasons for missing is because you're too sick to be present or because you're away travelling - and even in the later case, blessed are you if you find the family gathered in that location and join with them.

"Let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:25  


sag said...

Now I feel really bad about skipping church at the end of the month!

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

As you should! :)

Carol said...

Wow, first time in 3+ years that I have not attended a Divine Service on a Sunday and right away this post appears! You are good!

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

Now, THAT'S funny, Carol! :) Maybe you'll think twice about missing again!! :)