Things I’d Rather Do on Sunday Morning Than Go to Church
The following, as the title of the article slyly implies, is a list of things I’d rather do on a Sunday morning than go to church. I am being only partly facetious with these.
- Make a fancy breakfast. I’ve taken a liking to the art of cooking these past couple years, and weekend mornings are an exceptional time to practice the craft. Duck confit rolled into crepes; poached eggs over arugula and toast, smothered in bearnaise; sourdough pancakes with a side of thick bacon; omelettes built with with whatever leftover meats and vegetables that did not make it into the week’s entrees. . .the list goes ever on. Sadly, Sunday services cut into the time (hours, really) needed to make such extravagant dishes, leaving Saturday with the sole morning out of seven in which to make a fancy breakfast. That is a crime.
- Head to Sunday brunch. Sunday brunch is another food-related festivity upon which attending church impinges. Sure, one could always go after church, but we all know by then the French toast will be rubbery and all the shrimp will be gone, leaving only a small pool of partially melted ice cubes and discarded shrimp tails in the platter. Further, and this is doubly so for brunch in the American South, the later one gets to brunch, the greater the mob becomes. When I lived in Georgia, I quickly learned that eating out mid-to-late Sunday morning was a practical impossibility; parking lots were bursting at the seams with hungry parishioners just out of service, and the line at the hostess’s podium stretched for veritable miles.
- Sleep. Okay, this one really isn’t me at all. Mornings are the most beautiful part of the day, filled with sleepy silence and golden morning rays. It’d be a shame to waste them in bed—or nodding off in a pew.
- Finish The Witcher 3. This is a videogame that came out early 2015, and as it is a long and dark experience, I’ve yet to even make it halfway through some fifteen months later. It’s won a great many awards from the game industry, and I can absolutely see why. The time spent handing out bulletins and and holding open doors when I’m on usher duty at church, could instead go a long way in solving digital murders and hunting digital monsters, not to mention saving the digital world.
- Childproof my house. My infant daughter somehow learned to stand on her feet in the last few weeks. I don’t know who taught her how to do this—and I will have a harsh word with them whenever I sniff them out. Rather than deposit her in the kids’ nursery for a wasteful hour every Sunday, where she “socializes” with other infants (whatever that means), that time could instead be spent identifying objects which she could not avoid the devilish temptation to gulp down. I could also spend that time nailing bookshelves to the wall. She has a frightful proclivity for attacking books and I don’t know if it’s mere childlike curiosity or a dark authoritarian streak.
- Read the Bible. Really, why drag all the tedious work of religion into one’s spirituality? Is it really not enough that I occasionally leaf through that dusty old book and say my prayers once in awhile? After all, it’s about my personal relationship with God, and that’s nobody else’s business, is it? I’ve been saved and that should be good enough. I find it all a little undemocratic—even un-American—that there are people who’d think to tell me how to practice my faith. Rather than listen to a thirty-five minute sermon I’m doomed to forget all about as soon as the benediction is finished, I could read Matthew for just five minutes and then forget all about it as soon as my coffee is finished. All of the religion in a fraction of the time! Now that’s American.
- Listen to Spotify. Forsooth, why sing the dusty old hymns and counterfeit pop songs we call worship songs when you can get the Rolling Stones and Kendrick Lamar on your phone? What’s more, I could be doing things while singing these tunes, rather than standing still and waiting for the guy on the tech team who’s running the slides of lyrics to find the words to the chorus again. The odd insistence of Sunday service that we become still and rest for a moment also seems un-American.
- Catch up on trendy ideas. Yes, I know, Christianity has some smart people: Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Luther and Calvin. Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien. Schaeffer. However, they are all quite old and thoroughly dead, and this makes their philosophies irrelevant to today’s audiences who go through ideas like my daughter goes through onesies. We’ve been teaching the Bible for coming up on two thousand years in our Christian gatherings. All of it is quickly becoming passe, though—if it’s not already out of date. Plus, if you go to a few church services, you’ve been to them all. Christ crucified and all that. We’ve heard it all before. Why not watch a few TED talks on Youtube instead? One needn’t even change out of their pajamas or go engage in a bunch of awkward small talk with strangers seen only once a week.
Fishing, practicing with my bow, grocery shopping before the post-church rush, house cleaning —there’s no end to the things that I could do in the hour-and-a-half to two hours we put in every Sunday morning. Yet somehow, week after week, month after month, I find myself in the pews, gazing upward at at the rough-hewn cross, made for our church by a talented local woodworker, singing the same litany of songs over and over again—and doing so gladly.
There is something to church that cannot be found elsewhere, although someday it will be found everywhere. All the pleasures and duties and chores that seem so important outside the church gate will always pale in comparison once inside. These things become like shadows or echoes once we enter the sanctuary. Indeed, church is the opposite of the Allegory of the Cave; it is within that we come face with reality, and when we step into the dark of the chapel, we see the world as it truly is. Your local church is an image of the world as God intends it to be. It is both an outpost of Heaven and a blueprint for Earth.
This is why I go to church when there are so many more attractive things to do. It’s to experience something real, something lasting—like the sharing of Communion, a meal that binds all believers across time and space to Christ, or the gathering of brothers and sisters with whom we will share God’s kingdom. It’s to glimpse into a future eternity and to be joined to all those who come to glimpse the same thing. Yes, I could stay home and make a fancy breakfast—but that would be to miss the Supper of the Lamb.
Photo courtesy Łukasz Hejnakat Flickr Creative Commons.