I could do other things.
Sleep, read the newspaper, or drink coffee at Starbucks
And I could say that these are
My own version of church.
I could think that church is awful
Avoiding it “because hypocrites go there too,”
And bad people use the innocence of church
To prey on the weak and vulnerable.
I could be offended when a flag waves at church.
And devotion to Jesus is equated with Republicanism
Or antipathy to science is required
Preventing a differing viewpoint.
On days when the music is awful
Or the preaching is bad, it is particularly easy
To swear off church. To say, “I can read the Bible by myself.”
Feeling justified in my self-righteous judgments.
But there are some things that I can’t experience by myself:
The sound of fellow worshipers singing in unison,
The moving testimony of someone talking about
A victory over some weakness or a report about helping orphans.
When I am home by myself,
I can’t receive a hug, or spontaneously go to lunch
With someone I only see at church,
Nor can I receive the insight that was shared in the lesson.
Being alone isolates me from children’s laughter,
Maturity housed in the body of an aging disciple,
Reminders of who I am and what God wants me to be,
And fellow strugglers who want to grow just as I do.
When I go to church I realize that I am
Part of something that is larger than myself,
Smarter than myself alone, able to do more good
Than when I sit at home with my newspaper saying,
“I can do church by myself.”