Let us not give up meeting together

Last week, while we were in Florida, we went to church with my aunt and uncle. After the service, Mike asked me what I thought of the church and I said, “I had never . . .” before he cut me off, saying, “Me, either!” I was confused until he said, “I had never been to a church where someone actually answered their cell phone during the service!” I had missed that, but apparently the guy next to him answered his phone early in the service. Heh.

Anyway, what I had intended to say was that I had never realized how much my definition of church has shifted in the past few years. Last week, we went to the service, sang the songs, listened to the sermon, and then we left. It wasn’t their regular church, so we didn’t speak to anyone (except during that “greet the people around you” time). It was a perfectly nice service, don’t get me wrong. But it didn’t feel like we had been to church. And, as we were leaving, I realized that, a few years ago, that wouldn’t have been a big deal to me. At our previous church, Mike and I often went to service and left without doing much more than waving across the sanctuary to people that we knew, partly because the church was so big, partly because our friends didn’t all attend the same service, partly because multiple services meant that they needed to get people out of the sanctuary before the next service started, and partly because of the place Mike and I were emotionally. I’m not blaming the church – it’s just that the size of the church gave us the opportunity to be anti-social, and we did just that.

Now, though, we attend Sunday School, we’re involved in different ministries, we are more invested in worshipping with our friends and church family. The smaller size of the church has given us more accountability and made us feel as if there is a place for us. Gradually, I have become a person who doesn’t go to church just to sing songs and hear a sermon – instead, as my mom said this afternoon, “It’s like a family reunion every week with your church family.” We have grown as people because of the size of the church. We couldn’t get away with some of the things we used to get away with.

Today was our church’s 100-year anniversary, and there was a big celebration during the service and a big meal afterwards. It was fun to hear stories about the people who came before, the people who established many of the traditions that the church still follows. Last week I missed our church – the Lenten traditions, the order of service, our friends and church family. This week we came back just in time for a celebration, which seemed fitting after I spent the week thinking how much this group of people, these traditions have come to mean to me.

(I’m not planning on giving a recount of our vacation, but if you’d really like to know what happened, I’ll sum it up for you: sleep, eat, sun, eat, sun, eat, sleep, sun. And we walked four miles a day.)

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