Last Sunday I felt a longing to attend a worship service. As part of the whole “free range” philosophy, I have in recent months attended on an “as needed” basis. My “witty” uncle used to say, “It just doesn’t take as much church for me as it does for some people.” (He attended services every Sunday that he was able; I suppose he was referring to all those other “opportunities” listed in the bulletin every week.)
Anyway, as I was pondering which church to visit, I was feeling very positive about it until suddenly I was struck with that old familiar question: What am I going to wear?
As usual, one question gives birth to another, then another, and so on, until I find myself muddling through an entire genealogy of questions. On this particular morning, my Amtrak of thought leads me all the way back to the early Christians. I wonder . . .
I wonder if they wondered which robe to wear that day. Did they pull out several pairs of sandals before they decided on the right heel height? Did they need to take a shawl in case it was chilly in the catacombs that day?
Did the apparel decision rest on which one of a half dozen services to attend? Traditional, blended, contemporary, or casual? Early morning, mid-morning, noonish, or evening? Did they wonder which one would “suit” them best?
If visiting a new location, was anyone tempted to inscribe a fake name on the attendance tablet just because all that was desired that day was to enter a place of worship and do just that and nothing else?
Or, at the prompting of dark forces I suppose, did someone want to skip signing altogether, just to skew the “attendance report” and undermine the “numbers game,” justifying this behavior by saying, “God knows.” (Who would do this? I’m sure I don’t know. It’s just hypothetical.)
This would-be visitor of early days — would he/she purposely arrive late so as to avoid the persuasive speech of the latest fund-raising consultant or the umpteen announcements concerning the social events going on that week?
Were potential attendees concerned they might offend some “pillar” of the underground meeting place by sitting on her designated stone?
I doubt it.
I wonder why they risked their lives to meet together.
Did they do it because they liked the stained glass windows, or the choir, or the preaching style? Did they go because of the wonderful fellowship dinners or the children’s activities or the recently purchased exercise equipment in the new annex? Did they go out of habit?
I don’t think so.
When their most pressing concern was getting back home safely, I don’t think they were worried about what to wear that day. When the only announcement was the next meeting location, due to having been discovered at the present one, I don’t think they were very concerned about worship styles. When taking care of widows and orphans took all the coins they could spare, I don’t think their “sacrificial giving” was about the new gym.
They had Good News. They felt an urgency to share it. That’s why they went.
Why do I go?