Wistful for Sunday Morning

I write this on a Sunday morning. I was trying to fall asleep, as I tend to do at 6 AM because my personal sleep schedule tends to go all wonky for a variety of factors I don't intend to get into now.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was trying to fall asleep, when I was suddenly hit with a sort of wistfulness, a kind of mild sorrow. It is going to be another Sunday where I don't get up and go to church with my family.

It's been this way for a few months now, ever since the end of July (or thereabouts) when (for numerous reasons I won't get into now) I stopped going to the church I'd been attending for a dozen years. I'm quite convinced it was the right change to make, and not one entirely of my own choosing, but that's neither here nor there.

Over the past year or so I've gotten somewhat dissatisfied with the traditional Sunday morning service structure. Ya see, they basically consist of a few components: singing (called "praise" or "worship"), a sermon (a.k.a. a lecture), and other bits depending upon the denomination (such as liturgy and/or announcements). Sometimes there is communion.

For the most part, I have some personal issues with these things.

With singing, I don't feel like I am engaged in praising God when participating with a group. For me, the songs need to be coming from a specific emotional place, which often requires specific songs. That, combined with the fact that I often have (albeit minor) theological issues with many contemporary songs, often leaves me less than fully engaged in the praise and worship aspects of singing. Two other issues also often creep up. The first is my mind wandering if I know the songs well enough to let my mouth sing along with no need for input from my brain. This is a compounding of the previously mentioned issue. The second is a performance aspect, where I can be quite conscious of the people around me and start to sing for them rather than for God.

When it comes to sermons, my frustration is rather simple. It is a lecture and not a discussion. I've found myself deeply desirous of the latter. There is definitely value to lectures, of course, but the more experience one gets with the subject matter, the less a lecture tends to deliver (if, like a sermon, it tends to be aimed rather broadly). I somewhat echo C. S. Lewis's sentiments of not being entirely confident of my own Biblical authority due to a lack of formal training. However, I do have enough confidence to produce a weekly YouTube show on the subject (which can be found over at GeekdomOfGod.com, if you'll excuse the self-promotion). I feel it would be dishonest to say that I haven't achieved a certain level of mastery of the subject of Christianity, as immodest as it feels to make such a claim.

For the most part, the other bits are church business. I do like liturgy on an irregular basis—as long as it doesn't become rote. It is often extremely well-polished theology, and quite an impressive masterwork, and there is something special about engaging in it corporately. However, it can easily become mere words that are to be repeated if one is not careful to avoid that happening.

The main thing I actually miss from Sunday morning church services is communion. That, and some of the energy and tradition of it.

Where I've found myself instead is going to an excellent Bible study/community group on Tuesday evenings. I get to sit down and eat and fellowship with a group of people, then we spend a good chunk of time discussing some part of the Bible together. Finally, we break up into smaller, consistent groups to share our lives with each other in a more intimate setting. It is really well run and the atmosphere is excellent. I'd much rather spend 4-5 hours there than 1-1.5 hours at a Sunday morning service.

I also feel that God led me to this group, as there was a coincidence of introduction to it that I cannot discount.

So I don't really overall miss Sunday morning services, what with a structure I'm not overly fond of and the incompatibility with my usual sleep "schedule." But this morning I am feeling wistful for something I did with my family for three decades—practically all my life. I went to church almost every single Sunday, and it hit me this morning that I haven't been, and it's left me a little sad. Not for the church service itself, but for the pattern of behavior now gone.

In short, I think it a classic case of rose-tinted glasses.

I imagine that someday the tides of life will once again change, and I'll return to Sunday morning services. Or perhaps not. I don't really know. I just know it feels kinda weird to think of them as something that I used to do, and I feel a little bit of...honestly, I think it is an identity hole...from not attending them right now.


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