There’s a famous, apocryphal story in Church circles about the mother who tries to get her son out of bed one Sunday morning. It resonates well with mothers – as most churchgoing mums have been in this position.
Anyway, in the story, the mother goes into her son’s bedroom and says, ‘Get out of bed and go to church.’
The son puts a pillow over his head and she goes away.
Then, ten minutes later, the mother returns, removes the pillow, and says, ‘Get out of bed and go to church.’
‘I don’t want to,’ says the son. ‘It’s so boring. Why should I bother?’
‘Because it’s Sunday,’ replies the mother. ‘And also because you are the bishop of the diocese.’
Church is a turn off
It’s a funny story – but it also tells a great truth. That many people in the West today would rather stay in bed on a Sunday morning than get up and go to church. Surveys show that people no longer feel duty bound to go to church on Sundays. And they think of it as being boring.
Furthermore, they might be interested in spirituality - but ‘institutionalised religion’ is a turn off.
Why go to church?
So why go to Church? Why can’t you just have God’s rest and know his love at home in your bed?
The bishop’s mother says her son should go to church just because it’s Sunday. Perhaps she is reminding him of how Jesus invited us to re-enact the Last Supper, the meal he had with his disciples the night before he died, which is what we do in a Sunday Communion service every week. But why would Jesus ask us to do something that is tedious and apparently unfruitful?
The mother might have said that her son needed to go to church to celebrate with his Christian family. As a member of a family, you are obliged to attend family events like your mother’s birthday party, however tedious.
But what is this Christian family? Why would you drag yourself out of bed to meet up with a congregation of people you barely know, if at all?
Can’t we just do faith online?
In our society, we choose the people we want to belong to – the group we practise pilates with; our colleagues at work; our Facebook friends. We can listen to sermons and Christian podcasts galore online. So why do we need to go to church?
Well, I guess the answer is that, at church, we receive the gift of Christ’s body – in the bread and the wine that we take into our hands and put in our mouths – something that can’t be delivered by Amazon or accessed online. And we come face to face with people in our community whom we are neither related to nor have we chosen them – all sorts of people, including people who are very different from us and whom we may not even like.
Over the next few months, in these Community posts, I’m going to explore why these differences more. And show you, I hope, why getting up for Church is not only important – but leads to something precious and life-giving.