Church has always been a regular part of my life. As a young child, I remember the smell of the hymnals as I sat next to my Granny, watching her hold the book close and sing as if she and God were the only ones in the room. I drew imaginary pictures on the back of her thin hands. I loved the rattling of the pages of the Bible that sounded like rain as everyone followed wherever the preacher was taking them. Even back then, though I sometimes found it boring, there was no place that I would rather be.
As I grew older, I embraced the social aspects of it all. Our church was our family, sharing in one another's weddings and being present as soon as they heard of the births of our three children. We celebrated as one when a family member returned after being away from home for a long period of time, or mourned as one when we lost one of our own. When someone was sick, the Church, as a family, came to their knees to ask for healing.
Going to church is about so much more than a worship event on Sunday morning. Worship should always remain the focus, and if allowed, it can truly change lives. But there are no moments like that of squeezing the hand of a loved one during a prayer or holding a young child in your lap while they quietly accent the church bulletin with their own artistic creations. Singing songs about Heaven on Sunday somehow allows those precious words to interrupt your thought processes throughout the week.
My own children grew up with the luxury of having both sets of grandparents sitting beside them on the pew, usually on the third row. They took turns sitting in the laps of the people who loved them most in the world. They learned about the love of Jesus while surrounded with the love of family. They showed off their new baby sister, and later led her to Bible class as she learned to walk. The memories wrapped in that church building are impossible to measure.
So, you will always find me at church on Sunday mornings. Work schedules, sporting activities, and travel attempt to interfere with that weekly appointment from time to time., But, my week remains empty for those times that I have been absent, for whatever reason. It is obvious that something is missing.
The truth is that Jesus is everywhere, as long as you are looking for him, and is never contained to a building. So, it is not necessary to be at church in order to get to know Him, to become a Christian, or to get to Heaven. But worshiping together allows us to forget ourselves and our busy schedules for a few minutes, marvel at all God has done and continues to do, and perhaps learn something we did not realize that we still needed to know.
So, what is the big deal about going to church? For me, it is the chance to kneel at the foot of the cross, where we all become equals. It protects my Sundays by keeping them holy, and my heart focused on what matters most. But more than this, it confirms that we were not created to face the trials in this life alone. We definitely need a church family to share life with us.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
Janet Morris Grimes, the author The Parent's Guide to Uncluttering Your Home, released in 2011. She launched Abbandoned Ministries to lead others to seek God, as Abba, during abandonment. For more information, visit http://janetmorrisgrimes.com or http://abbandondoned.com.