I hope you’ve had a fabulous week. I certainly did. My oldest son had his high school graduation last Saturday and it was the best high school graduation I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t the commencement speakers, or even the pomp and circumstance, it was just the group celebration of a milestone. With so much isolation, with so few social interactions, a true celebration meant all the more.
But the weekend kind of wiped me out and on Monday I wasn’t feeling 100%. I think I was just tired because by Tuesday I was fine, but we are now aware of every little cough, ache and sneeze, aren’t we? Have you done any panic sniffing? Maybe panic is a little strong but I’ve felt sweet relief to definitively smell various items, from a nearby candle, to a bottle of alcohol or a random grab from the spice cabinet.
But Monday night we did miss going to a sweet graduation event at our church. It was a send-off to the high school seniors where parents share a quick piece of wisdom for their graduate. I knew just what I wanted to say.
When Dub (that’s what we call him at home) was a baby, he had terrible separation anxiety. He’d cry if I left the room. If you happen to be in this stage now, do not worry a bit. I can assure you they grow out of it. A year or two later and he never experienced separation anxiety again. But the poor child did not want to go to church, so as soon as he had learned a few words, he would emphatically communicate his wishes.
At the time we went to church on Saturday nights. Somehow he knew —as a one-year-old —that it was Saturday. As soon as I’d strap him in to his car seat, he’d start saying, “Church? No!” and simultaneously using his chubby little hand to indicate “NO” by shaking his flat palm back and forth. By the time we pulled into the parking lot twenty minutes away, he would have repeated this stance 20, 30 or 40 times. Sometimes we would try the nursery anyway, and other times we’d just keep him with us. But never did we give in and just not go to church.
My grandfather, “Papa,” died before Dub was two-and-a-half, but this quickly became one of his favorite stories. Just like me, he thought it was both sweet and hilarious. My mom told me that even as Papa’s strength was ebbing in his last few days, he would look up at her and smile, “Church? No!” and shake his hand just like Dub.
What I wanted to tell Dub at the send-off dessert was no matter how much you may think, “Church? No!” you cannot give into that. Observing the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, and it is also a means by which you are fed truth and community. My friend, don’t ever give up going to church. Yes, it’s a gathering of sinners, and people may rub you the wrong way, but Jesus came for the sick, and you are sick. It matters not if there’s a pandemic or it’s the Roaring 20’s, in this life, you will always be sick. You will always need the church. And the church will always need you.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV
Don’t be an infant tossed about. Seek and speak truth (a point also made by the headmaster at graduation last weekend) and do your part in the body of Christ. When you wake up tired on a Sunday morning, and you think to yourself, “Church? No!” get yourself there anyway. And if I ever slip out of the habit of regular church attendance, please, please remind me of this truth.