Our family never missed church when I was growing up. Never. Prior to leaving home for college, I was excused from church for chicken pox, a particularly bad bout of flu, and wisdom teeth extraction. Three Sundays out of 936 (yes, I Googled “number of Sundays in eighteen years”) that I was not in church. I didn’t mind – I loved church. Except when we were on vacation.
For the self-conscious, a campground bathroom is not the ideal place to dress for church. Even in 1975, my mom and I garnered weird looks in the six-stall shower/toilet building as she inspected my pink double-knit dress and white knee socks for grit. Girls my age snickered and women smiled as they surveyed our attire. I once asked my mother why we couldn’t just attend the non-denominational campground worship service held at the communal fire pit instead of driving to a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Mom looked at me as though I had suggested we head to the camp store, murder the clerk, stuff the body in the ice chest, loot the tackle box that served as a till, and high-tail it to Gatlinburg for a lost weekend.
Those campground moments were my first experiences of wanting to play hooky from church. Over the years, I’ve succumbed to this urge a few times. But now that the threat of Covid-19 has combined with my autoimmune issues to make church attendance less than optimal, I miss it. And yet…
Since March, my husband and I have carved out a Sunday routine. We head to a hiking trail to get in a few miles of activity before going home to watch one of my dad’s sermons on DVD (while dressed comfortably and sipping coffee). This routine, paired with daily Bible study (which I did not do prior to Covid) has caused a shift in my spiritual life. My personal relationship with God is more personal than ever.
Do I miss church? Yes. I miss almost everything about it. (Not gonna lie – I like the activewear/caffeinated beverage/digital sermon combo.) But this year, this weird year without church, is finally when I’ve taken to heart that time spent daily with my Creator and Redeemer is preferable to the one measly hour per week I used to give Him.
I Chronicles 16:11 says, “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!” (ESV) I can’t say I’ve sought Him continually, but I pray that when “normal” life and church resume, I persist in spending time with God beyond Sunday morning. He’s awesome company.