The Sunday Morning God
Most Christians understand that God has interests that extend beyond Sunday morning. Daily, millions of people around the world invoke the name of God, sometimes in prayer, sometimes on other “sacred” occasions such as after stubbing one’s toe, losing a bet or being pulled over on the highway. Yet, if you were to ask many people what defines or determines Christian commitment they would reply going to church.
As a priest I regularly meet people who seem to believe that Christianity is principally about Sunday. I say this because of the comments I typically hear from folks, “I don’t go to church” , “I know I should start attending church,” “we don’t do the church thing anymore,” “I’m sorry I missed church on Sunday, my dog ate my alarm clock,” etc. Of course, going to church, being the Church, at worship, is very much an important part of the Christian life – but it is not the entirety of that life.
A God who can only be encountered in the gathered community is a God who is absent to the ordinary believer during the rest of the week. Yes, people pray, but often people struggle to find real, deep and meaningful connections to God during their week. Is this because God is limited to gathered times of worship or because we – here meaning generations of Church leaders – have failed to teach people about how to encounter God during the remaining 6 days and 23 hours a week? God is eternally present. God is always seeking to get our attention. So yes, God “attends” church, but God is also available to believers as they jog along the side-walk, or sit at the board room meeting, or argue with a loved one.
How can we as Christians be aware of God’s presence beyond Sunday? How can the gathered church (worship services, Bible studies, social gatherings, etc.) help prepare or encourage Christians to encounter God when they are not together?