According to a 2010 Gallup poll in 2010, 32 percent of people in the state of Connecticut attend church weekly or nearly every week. The numbers look similar for the rest of New England. In our small Connecticut town, about 60 people show up to church on a typical Sunday, representing close to 2 % of our population. Our other local churches aren’t filling their pews either.
It would be easy for us to join our neighbors and spend those precious Sunday morning hours differently. We could stay in our pajamas and read the paper while the kids watched cartoons. We could take a family hike. We could (and sometimes do) say yes to the birthday parties and soccer games. We could go out for brunch. And we could avoid the ordinary but difficult task of keeping our three wrigglers still and attentive for their thirty-minute stint in the sanctuary.
Most Sunday mornings involve a low level of irritation. Penny, age 8, opens the hymnal and starts reading the words to herself during prayers. William, age 6, lies down on the pew’s red cushion to color, feet behind him in the air. Marilee, age 3, slides off my lap and starts pulling things out of my pocketbook. I try to keep my whispering admonitions calm. I try to pay attention to the Scripture reading, the prayer of confession, the expressions of praise and thanksgiving from the choir. I am often relieved when our kids scamper out of the service to Sunday school, and I am often relieved when we head out the sanctuary doors to a more restful afternoon as a family.
And on those afternoons, I sometimes think it would be easy to abandon church not only for the sake of convenience, but even to abandon church for the sake of spirituality. We take a walk in the woods, and Marilee points out the color of a leaf and asks me if I remember when the angels were singing outside her window. William points to the lichen on a rock and says, “Mom, I think that’s part of the decomposer group. Like a mushroom.” Penny holds my hand and says, “Tell me a story.” The irritation has disappeared. We connect to one another, to the world around us, and it feels easy and peaceful and nice.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Amy Julia Becker