I’ll be honest: coffee is always the first thing. The alarm goes off, or my husband rubs my arm, or the dog licks my face, or my eyes flutter open, and I immediately stumble into the kitchen, toward the coffee pot.
I watch the coffee brew. I pour in the skim milk. I stir in a bit of brown sugar. I breathe in that beautiful, bitter scent, and I take that first, sweet sip.
This is the beginning of my Sunday morning. Maroon 5 may have said it best, “things just get so crazy” and “living life gets hard to do,” but there is something subtly sacred about Sunday mornings.
Once the caffeine hits my bloodstream, I start moving through the other motions. Eating my breakfast. Taking my vitamins. Showering. Staring at my closet. Doing my makeup. Searching for my car keys. Crating the pup. Setting the alarm. Driving to church. I do it all with the coffee cup in my left hand. I take the last sip as my husband parallel parks the car.
I’ll be honest: I almost always go to church on Sunday mornings. And, I almost never want to go on Sunday mornings. I don’t want to go anywhere on Sunday mornings. I want to sit in bed with my coffee and a book. But, I go to church anyway. I usually go sleepy-eyed. I rarely go bushy-tailed.
Which begs the question: why go to church at all? If you’re reading your Bible… If you’re saying your prayers… If you’re trying to be a good family member or co-worker… If you’re attending a small group… If you’re doing all those other spiritual practices throughout the week… Why go to church as well?
1.God is there.
God is everywhere, but He reveals Himself in a unique way in the community and in the liturgy. A dear (brilliant) friend once said, if you’re trying to hear the voice of God in your life, why would you avoid the one place where He is most present. In the community of believers. In the Word. In the Eucharist. Jesus says it best in the Book of Matthew: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (18:20, NRSV).
2. God wants you there.
Or, in other words, “because the Bible says so.” As Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (10:24-25, NRSV). It is not easy being a Christian; it is a demanding call. We need a community of like-minded believers to encourage us, challenge us, and hold us accountable.
3. Your neighbor needs you there.
I once skipped church to read Harry Potter. It was the second to last book, and I was just beginning to understand horcruxes, and I could not step away. So, I put my will, my wants first. Over God’s. Over my neighbor’s.
As stated above, we all need a community to encourage and challenge us. Just because you don’t want to go to church on a particular day doesn’t mean your neighbor doesn’t desperately need you at church on a particular day. You owe it to your neighbor to put down the book and go to church.
4. You don’t know everything.
It is just true. You don’t know everything. I don’t know everything, either. I went to seminary for three years full-time, and I barely learned the basics. The Bible is the Word of God. There is simply no way you – or I or even your pastor – could make sense of it alone. By studying the Word in community, we avoid manipulating it according to our own (often subconscious) desires or fears.
5. Jesus did know everything… and he still worshipped in community.
Jesus is the Savior of the world, the Son of God, and he was always at the synagogue. Even he saw value in studying, worshipping, and praying with others. His community was imperfect, and he frequently criticized both the institution and the members, but he went anyway. There are worse examples to follow.
So, come Saturday night, get your coffee cup ready. And, come Sunday morning, get showered, get dressed, and get to church. Adam Levine was right. “Things just get so crazy” and “living life gets hard to do.” That’s not a reason to stay in bed next Sunday morning. That’s the best reason to go to church next Sunday morning.