Yesterday we skipped church so we could go to the Allegan Antique Fair, which happens once a month in the summer. We went early because it was going to be near 90 degrees in the afternoon, and the booths are a little picked over by afternoon. I feel a little guilty.
But, but…somewhere in a box I have my Sunday School pins from the Baptist church. A whole chest-full, like military decorations. We NEVER missed church when I was a kid. To get the pins, you had to be in Sunday School 48 weeks a year. The first year pin was a round thing with branches on the side, then every year after that you attached little rectangular pieces that counted out the years. Mine was at least 12 or 13 pieces long. I was proud of it, and used to wonder why the other families, who said they were serious about God, didn’t have long Sunday School pins. Okay, so the first sin associated with skipping church: pride.
There are several things fueling my guilt. First, and let’s get this out of the way, I didn’t have a rock solid reason for skipping. We could have gone right after church, braved the heat, and felt good about ourselves to boot. Walking around with sweaty necks, sticky shirts and sunburnt foreheads would have produced a nice, healthy feeling of martyrdom.
First benefit of not skipping church – moral superiority. Then there’s the word ‘skipping’. Such nasty connotations. Like when it’s your job to get the mail, and your mom says, “Did you bother to check the mail?”, and what she means is, “Being responsible like the rest of us is just a little beneath you, isn’t it?” We need a better word than skipping. I already started feeling guilty on Saturday because I knew I was going to skip, so I pre-confessed to my friend Mike during an afternoon round of golf. After chipping over the green for the fourth time I blurted out, “I’m skipping church tomorrow!” Mike, squatting down and squinting with one eye at his putt-for-birdie, said, “I always tell myself that, with all the times I’ve played guitar at multiple services over the years, I’m way ahead of everyone anyway.” That one makes me feel pretty good – like the year I worked for an office cleaning company and cleaned so many toilets that I felt good about myself even when I didn’t clean the toilets at home. Using that system to count Sunday attendance, I figure I’m good until the middle of 2023.
Throw in all the Wednesday nights, and I’m sure to get a big ol’ ‘atta boy’ from God. In the end, I think there’s a sort of implied contract between me and the people in our church. We’ve all sort of tacetly agreed that we’ll see each other every week, and when I don’t go, I feel like I’ve let them down a little. And there’s just something soooo delicious about laying around in my pajamas, eating cinnamon rolls and doing the Sunday crossword. (It almost feels kinda…kinda Sabbath-y.) It’s a good thing we don’t have Sunday night services at our church. I’d not only be an emotional wreck from skipping most, or all of them, but I’d have to wear the dreaded, shame-filled moniker…’Once-er’.