I have a secret, but you must promise to tell everyone you know before I share it with you. You will? Great! Shhh… Churches are open after Christmas! What?! For real? Yes, they are. After yesterday, though, I was kind of afraid some people didn’t know that. You see, a week ago we had five Christmas Eve services with specialized parking plans, a parking lot traffic director, and chairs overflowing out the back of the Sanctuary and the Christian Life Center. Beautiful, stately red poinsettias graced the church and CLC, memorializing or honoring loved ones. An advent wreath accepted the lighting of its candles, each with a different message that was read by families of the church. Beautiful Christmas music filled the rooms, culminating in the traditional singing of the peaceful “Silent Night” as light was shared, one to another, each individual candle illuminating that of a neighbor. It was wonderful.
Yesterday, the poinsettias remained, and we still sang Christmas songs, but to a scattered congregation, even less than usual for our church, most likely due to holiday exhaustion. To be fair, this is not an admonishment for not attending church outside of Christmas and Easter. Anyone who is acquainted with me knows that I detest mornings. As such, I may have missed a service. Or two. Or three. (Etc.) Forgive me, Lord, but if I didn’t have to be there to sing, I may have been among the exhausted absentees. More accurately, this is an acknowledgment of the waxing and waning of our spiritual lives that we all experience.
There is a common belief that one does not need a brick and mortar building to have a relationship with God. While I know this to be true, I posit that there is more to the story. God is omnipresent. We can find, worship, and praise Him anywhere we are, that’s indisputable; but there is something to be said for the spiritual food gleaned from clergy, the fellowship of other worshippers, and the satisfaction of serving God, that only a church can provide. We can liken it to the “use it or lose it” theory. If we don’t hone our life skills regularly, we can lose the edge we have on them. The same is true of our relationships with God. The more we practice strengthening them, the more adept we become at being able to hear His guiding voice in our lives when He speaks to us.
Pretty soon, if not already, any signs of Christmas will be carefully packed away until next year, but Jesus never packs us away; He is always with us. Soon the anxiety over decorating, sending cards, shopping, cooking, baking, and wrapping will be nothing more than a blurry memory. Any spiritual highs we felt after attending uplifting Christmas services may now be on the endangered list, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At least once every week the spiritual food kitchens known as churches are open for us to consume as much or as little as we want. Just as we need a regular schedule of healthy food intake to nourish our bodies, so do we need a regular schedule of worship to keep us spiritually satiated. Biblical knowledge, fellowship with other Christians, and service to others are excellent ways to find peace and joy in our lives.
I can unequivocally say that you will find something to feed your soul at church, if not at any one church, try another one. There is no one size fits all when it comes to churches. You need to find your comfort zone. Think back a week ago to that light you received from your neighbor before passing it on to the person on the other side of you. Those candles have all since been extinguished, but don’t allow your own light to fade. Go back for more spiritual fuel and share your light with the world. Keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year round. And now you know the rest of the story.