When my wife, Sara, was growing up her family was never on time for Church. It was always so hard for them to get out of the door on Sunday morning. Finally, they made family resolution – whatever they were doing fifteen minutes before church started, they would just stop get in the car and go to church. This meant that Sara’s dad went to church unshaved. Sara’s mom would often be eating her breakfast as she walked to her pew. And Sara would be in her pajamas. What was important was that they were there, no matter what state they were in at that moment. Their family had learned an important lesson: God wants you however you are.
Many of you have shared your own stories of similar challenges with me - the challenges of getting children out of bed, into the car, and to church on Sunday. How to prioritize and juggle all the activities of children and our lives to have church be a part of it. And, what I really find amazing is many parents also report to me how great the car ride home from church is. They said that they were relaxed, their kids were relaxed, that they had great conversations and they felt really connected. Going to Church had been something that was initially hard to do, but it was time that was valuable and important to a family’s life together.
Now, realistically, this is not the case for every family, or even every week. Sometimes one parent may want to go to Church and the other doesn’t want to or doesn’t have any interest in Church. Some children may feel more enthusiastic about going than others. And all of this will vary from family to family, week to week, year to year. What have learned church is an important time – important for families, important for children and important for parents - even though it wasn’t always easy.
There are lots of ways to have Church be a part of your and your family’s life. Many people have found that they are able to be part of this community in different ways at different times of their lives. Some families just come for Church, and skip Sunday School, because there is just too much going on (and there still is the Children’s Homily for kids during the service); some just come for Sunday School and Adult Education and skip Church. Some families grow by engaging in the spiritual discipline of going every week. Some families like to really get involved and sign up to help and work on a lot of different things. Some just want to come and sit in the pew and pray. All of these different ways are all right; what is important is remaining connected and part of the community and connected to your faith in God. It is important to figure out what works best for you at this time in your life and your family’s life. What that looks like will probably change as your life changes.
There is no “right” way to attend church. What matters is that you are connected, part of the faith community. Whether you are young or old, full of faith or full of doubt, working or unemployed, single or married, divorced or engaged, raising children or letting go of them as they go off to college, whether you look like the ‘perfect’ family or a ‘real’ one -- God wants you, your Church want you, however you are.
It is my hope that each one of you know that you are an important and valued part of this community – just for being you and connected to our community of faith.