There is a little girl on the soccer team I coach, let’s call her Christine. Christine is perhaps the smallest kid on the team, one of the smallest I have noticed in her league. She plays with a huge heart, she fights hard for space, gets into the correct position, puts her head down and runs when our team turns the ball over. She is small but she is mighty and reminds me of the character Rudy from that old football movie. Christine has multiple commitments and, to be honest, soccer is pretty low on her list. So, when she came down with a cough recently it was decided she would skip soccer and try to get healthy in time for another event she had coming up.
I am writing about her because even though she wasn’t going to play she came to cheer her team on. There are any number of other things she could have spent her evening doing but she came to watch her team, cheer for them, and to take pleasure in the fun they were having, as she sat on the sidelines. What a team mate!
It made me think about how sometimes when it comes to Sunday worship services we might not want to attend, we might have other priorities, we might not be feeling like worshipping God or chatting with folks, we might not want to sing or have to smile at one more person. We may have other things we could be doing or getting ready for. If we are honest, for many of us it doesn’t take too much to convince us to skip a Sunday.
If everyone only attended when they really wanted to our churches would be even more empty than they are today. Discouragement would be higher, community would be weakened, our impact on the neighbourhoods we worship in would be reduced, our ability to find volunteers to greet, run the a/v, lead the Sunday school and on and on would be hurt.
Christine was happy to come encourage others, kids were so happy to see her, they were astounded that would come without planning to play, dare I say she inspired them. As it happened, the game turned lopsided enough that we put her in our net since that would mostly just involve standing there (she managed to be helpful even when she did not expect to be).
You can guess where I am going…your presence at worship services is not just about you or your being “fed”. Sometimes your presence is a way to encourage staff and volunteers who are pouring their hearts and souls into worship services. Sometimes your presence is a gift to someone who really needed to see you because they know your story and relate to it and this particular day they just needed to know they aren’t alone, sometimes your presence in body transitions to a presence of soul and you find yourself deeply immersed in the presence of the Divine.
God calls his people into community and into worshipping communities. Thanks be to God.