While we have been in Chattanooga, Tom and I have been attending Fort Oglethorpe Presbyterian services on Sunday evening (we work on Sundays in the Point Park Visitors Center). We get home from work at 5:30, change our clothes, and head directly to church. I never thought going to church on Sunday evening would be such a hard thing to do!
I am a morning person. I work best in the morning and get the most done when I “have at it” early in the day. By the time the evening rolls around, especially when I have put in a full day of work, I am ready to relax, play a game, watch a movie, or read a book. The more mindless it is, the better I like it. A worship service does not fall into the mindless category. I like to focus on God, give him my full attention, and be fully present in the service.
Going to church on Sunday evening has been surprisingly difficult for me. I’m tired. I’ve worked all week (Sunday is the last day of our “work week”). I’m hungry. The prayers are long and I struggle to stay awake. I can think of 100 reasons to stay home. But the one reason for going to church usually trumps all of them: I love God and want to increase in that love. The best way of showing that love and increasing it is going to church.
Going to church on Sunday evening has helped me have more sympathy for people who used to give me a dozen excuses why they weren’t in church on Sunday morning. But the truth is that I grow when I go to church. And no matter how great my devotions are, no matter how strong my prayer life is, I don’t grow when I don’t go to church. I suspect that is equally true for others.
When we go to church we are fed and we are challenged. If nothing else, demonstrating our Christian love for the others in the church helps us strengthen our charity muscles. In church I am exposed to ideas that I would never consider on my own (funny how little our thinking changes when we only consider our own opinion). I learn to think in new ways about God. I am inspired by the example of others who love him. I realize that I am not alone in my desire to follow Jesus.
I am thankful for the challenge of attending worship on Sunday evening. I am thankful for the ways it has helped me grow. And I am looking forward to being able to worship again on Sunday morning!