samedi, juin 10, 2006

Ain't no cure for the summertime pews?

Last week I received an email from one of the editors at the Philadelphia Inquirer asking me to write an essay for the local opinion page on why the pews empty out during the summertime. This is a question which has bemused clergy for millenia, probably since the advent of paved road allowed the Roman gentry to escape to summer villas. If our laypeople escape in droves, perhaps they imagine that God is going along with them. But "where does God go on summer vacation?" Forgive me my touch of irreverence, but take a minute and imagine Does He rent a condo at the Jersey Shore? Or maybe He appreciates the quiet of the Canadian woods. Could He be hiking in Colorado or hanging out at a cafe in Paris? I asked some clergy friends to share some wisdom on why people flee church in the summer, even when they are at home, and the reasons they give. So far my responses have been exceedingly few. I would love to hear from readers! Do you attend church in the summertime? If not, why not? If so, why? Are there programs the church could offer that would encourage you to attend? What does it feel like to sit in a half-empty church with other parishioners? Do you feel virtuous for showing up? How about you slackers? What are you doing on Sunday mornings that is more exciting than worshipping with your brother and sister Christians (keep it clean, please)? Of course, we know that God is everywhere, but what are your most "divinely infused" places to meet Him during the summer when you aren't in the pew? Thanks for your help!

2 commentaires:

Kristi a dit…

I grew up in church. We were in church every single service our church had, with the exception of a regular yearly family vacation which took place at any season of the year. And even then, my dad always looked for a church in the vacationing area. Our Bibles, along with appropriate church attire, were always packed in the suitcases before we left for vacation. And if he couldn't find a church in the area, we would have some sort of family devotion together before starting that day's activity. Not because it made my parents feel any holier than anyone else, but because they truly believed in what Christ did for them at Calvary and it was their reasonable service to live for Him and they felt that it helped in their stride to build a greater relationship with Him. Also, to give us kids a grasp at faith. They weren't Bible thumpers or legalistic. They did not turn us off from God. They taught us that to reach out to others and as we grew older, to make our own relationship with Christ becuase the Bible teaches that we are to work out our own salvation.
I believe, that for the most part, in these day and times, it truly does depend on your relationship with Him. We live in the south so everyone around these parts goes to church SOME where. Maybe not all the time, but they all have a church. I think it depends on what God really means to you and whether or not you want to spend time at an amusement park or on a pew.
I have one brother that died in 2004. He went to church but not on a regular basis. Only when there was nothing "better" to do.
I have another brother that uses his MS as an excuse as to why he doesn't come, yet on Sundays he'll be in his pool, cooking out with friends, or going hiking at a local mountain. He believes that God is with him everywhere he goes and that he can worship on a boat or on a pew. But I happen to disagree with that. I agree that God is with us everywhere we go, but when you're on a boat, you're not thinking about God and really worshipping Him. You're thinking about the fish swimming below you. God may cross your mind occasionally while you're out there, but you're certainly not worshipping Him. And if there IS any worshipping going on, it's rare.
When my husband and I got married we didn't go to church at all. Not because we didn't want to or were turned off at the thought of it, but because we enjoyed sleeping in and doing things with friends later in the day. It didn't have meaning for us then. Church was an inconvenience. But as we grew older, we realized that we needed something more in our lives. Something we were searching for and just not finding. As we began to read more of the Bible and started praying together, our relationship grew with each other as our relationship grew with Christ. Now, we have picked up the same thoughts of reasonable service to God. We are strongly committed to the ministries in our church. We are involved in every aspect of it and we love it. Our children are happy and willing to do anything in the church. But I think that has to do with our attitude in serving.
Does this make me better than my brothers? No. And they would/will tell you, that it just means I have a deeper relationship with Him.
So I guess to answer your question, my opinion is that whether you're sitting on a pew or doing something else, it all depends on how deep your relationship to God is and to what length you're willing to go to show Him.
That was a great question and I loved the title of your post. Cute.

Catherine + a dit…

The neat thing about where my Trinity parish is located is that in the summer our ranks swell rather than diminish! We are home to the nationally renown Oregon Shakespearean Festival which starts its season in mid-February through September. There is also the Oregon Caberet Theatre, and relates summer sessions at the University nearby. Also in nearby historic Jacksonvile, we have the nationally known Peter Britt Music Festival which favors all tastes in music and ballet in an outdoor venue on a hillside within the city itself. Many people flock to us because into late June there is still some skiing going on in the surrounding mountains, fishing at one of many mountain lakes, hiking trails and rock climbing, the annual Tour de Oregon for cyclists, river kayaking and rafting, and ocean beaches are a couple of hours away through ancient redwood and myrtlewood forests.

Our visitors range far and wide, from Europe to any state you wish to name.

It's the clergy who sneak off more often than not but we have an entire flock of retired clergy and a few bishops who can't wait to jump to the task.

Hope that helps E+ !