We live in a time when we are going to church less and enjoying it more. In any given church good members may attend once or twice a month at most, may or may not be in a house church or small group of any kind and will only attend when it meets their needs. We talk about how the music or the sermon makes us feel. Not whether it was true or not. The command now is “Have a great weekend. Enjoy” not “encourage each other on resurrection Sunday because the time is short.”
Sunday is now the weekend. It used to be the first day of the week. It is no longer. Monday is the first day of the week because the week is all about our work. The weekend is all about our leisure. The week is all about us. All of this is the way “the powers” organize our lives and provide us the disciplines to live our lives. We work our religion into these rhythms-maybe-sometimes-things like prayer, service to members of the body, home church, and Sunday assemblies. It is about us-our needs, wants and feelings-the New Trinity. If we go to the assembly two consecutive Sundays and we are not playing on the praise band or preaching or teaching a class we are just not there the next Sunday because Sunday is not resurrection day-it is the weekend and we do what makes us happiest on the weekend. Church may or may not make us happy.
Our “not showing up” patterns are not new. Even in the first century when Christian faith was sometimes not fun but painful, believers were tempted to slide back into the religion of their childhoods-the one that would cost them nothing in the Roman empire. Therefore, they began to not “show up” for assemblies in Jesus name. It all made sense. If it is not enjoyable any more then slowly disengage from the church-create a new norm-something that fits with “the powers” and the weekend. Go back to the oblivion of a happy second childhood.
Maybe all of this was and is a harmless change that means nothing, but maybe not. One writer of scripture saw “the not showing up pattern” as significant. This writer spent ten chapters exalting Jesus and re-calling disciples to him. Then he said, “Stop the casual not showing up thing.” Why? Because believers desperately need to mutually stir up-spur-goose- each other on to exalt Jesus and the works of Jesus’ love in the world. Otherwise we will lose heart-described more than once by the Spirit as a fate worse than death.
So if each of us are to become centers of production of spiritual goods and not just consumers of spiritual goods we will stop the “not showing up” thing – and the “have a nice weekend” thing. We will practice resurrection life on resurrection day together in reciprocal self-giving. We will actually devote ourselves to loving each other like Jesus loved us on the cross. We will grow up and show up to stir up loved ones to worship Jesus and love people in the church and the world. If we mutually practice the love of the resurrected Jesus at church and in small groups then we will go play the game in the world with power, finely honed skills, and mission. What goes on in church equips us to mock the powers that drive us to “consume and enjoy.”
This is really about us sometimes not knowing what we in fact know but have stuffed somewhere in our psyches, the urgency of this season, the end times; who we are – the body of Christ; and what day of the week it is–resurrection day. Not knowing what season we are living in, who we are and what day of the week it is reminds me of our infancies when we really did not know the season, our own identities or what day it was. Those days are over. Second childhoods kill churches!