Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter: The Biannual Churchgoer Edition

Happy Easter friends; one of two holidays a year the church pews are full. Our sons are forced into ties. Our daughters' dresses are bought months in advance, and we can't forget those new white shoes. We have to give our best to the Lord! you'll hear mommas in their new pantyhose say, the same way you hear them urge on Christmas...except they'll show up in jeans every other Sunday of the year if they even venture to show up at all. Why?

He is Risen, indeed. 

Half of me is very thankful that this population shows up on these two holidays, as another group of people never shows up at all. Not to mention, these are the two holidays that represent the two of the most crucial events in Christianity; these are the two events that ultimately define the faith. If church-goers are going to pick and chose, these are the two Sundays to pick and chose.

But the other part of me is upset. Not with this population for only coming to church on select Sundays on which they'd feel guilty if they didn't attend, but instead with the church, for making this population feel this way.

This post has been written in my private journal a thousand times, marked as too controversial to share with the world. I don't really care anymore.

Why are so many people so concerned with giving God "their best" when they go to church? 

I asked myself that one Christmas as I plowed through 12 pairs of pantyhose searching for one without a run in the calf. I asked other people, too, and the only answer I ever heard was "It's a sign of respect." This I understand. This I understood prior to asking the question. I understand why we dress up and fix our hair and make sure we have on good makeup. But I don't understand why that's the priority.

Sometimes, when I walk through the doors of church, I am hurt. I am lost. I am angry. As so many are on Sundays. On every Sunday; yes, even Christmas and Easter. We often don't feel like celebrating our Savior because we feel so far removed from Him that we have nothing to celebrate. It's far more of an obligation than a celebration. We go to church because we are afraid those gossipy potluck church women will notice we aren't there, not because we are excited to connect with and worship our Lord.

And yet, our fellow church families seem far less concerned with helping and healing than "giving their best." These special holiday sermons are turned into a show. How can we make this Easter message different than the last one? We tell the same dang passage every year! So out come the bunny metaphors, the children's ministry Easter egg hunts (which you humbly volunteer for to avoid the generic sermon), and I even knew a church that would bring in a live nativity scene with a real camel each Christmas. After all, you've got to set yourself apart if you want these biannual church-goers to attend your sermon on Easter.

Don't get me wrong. I thought the live nativity was pretty impressive, and I'm a big fan of the children's Easter egg hunt. But if the church was a little more concerned with sharing the truths behind our faith, maybe these biannual church-goers would feel more inclined to come on regular Sundays. Maybe a relationship with God, and a relationship with other church-goers for that matter, would be more appealing if we were allowed to be real. If we were allowed to take off our mask.

We have become far too involved in worshiping church, and not involved enough in worshiping God.

"I hate going to church," my friend told me once, "I have to get all dressed up to go somewhere boring and fake. If I wanted to do that, I'd just go on a blind date!"

My heart wanted to laugh and break all at the same time. The truth is, we are involved in enough situations like these. School and work can get pretty boring. The people around us are so fake. And then there's church; what is supposed to be the most loving and welcoming community in the world, is instead conforming to what the rest of society already is in a failed attempt at getting more people through the door.

We don't need any more Broadway shows. We don't need anything else we feel we have to sign up to volunteer for, we don't need anything else we feel obligated to donate money to, and we don't need another place where we are expected to have it all together and are judged if we don't. We need truth. We need love. And we need God. Fast, and more than ever. My heart cracks when I open Facebook. My mouth gapes open when I watch the news. The world is about to explode in ways that are anything but optimistic and hopeful. If we simply did our job: if we loved people, accepted people, and shared that love and acceptance without treating people like a charity project, we'd have more volunteers. We'd have more offerings. And we'd have more attendance. Not just on Easter, but every Sunday. Because people would be committed to each other, and also committed to God.

So today, my Easter outfit is brought to you by The Limited; the same generic place I buy all my professional attire. No ruffled skirts, no pastel sweaters, and no designer white heels. Not this year. Just a girl who is bringing herself, as she is, broken and beautiful, to the cross.

I hope this Easter you are reminded why that holy human everyone talks about died on the cross for you. Because he didn't just die for you, he came back to life for you. He saved you. He loves you. Don't get so caught up dyeing eggs and eating chocolate that you forget how much He loves you, even without your pantyhose on.

Because that's what today is really about. Not egg hunts and decorated baskets and creepy kodak bunnies at the mall food court. It's about love, and miracles, and a God who thought you were worthy of both.

Happy Easter, beautiful. He is Risen, indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment