I skipped church today. Yes, I am on vacation and had no official responsibilities, and therefore my truancy is justifiable. But still it feels strange. I know that millions of people stay home from worship every Sunday and do not feel the least bit uncomfortable with it. For them attending worship would feel strange. Even many Christians regularly miss worship on little more than a whim and don’t give it a second thought.
But not me. Even during the year that I was out of ministry, I never missed a Sunday. I was a faithful pew-warmer even when I wasn’t in the pulpit. I have even made it a point to find a place to worship while on the road traveling long distances. I have had very interesting experiences visiting churches right off highway exits. But not this Sunday. This Sunday I was on vacation in Maine, and I chose the beach over the pew.
I was amazed at how many people were not going to church with me. I should not have been surprised. I have read the statistics on church attendance, especially in New England. But it still took me aback to see all these Sabbath-breakers in the flesh. And I am one of them.
Are these the ones who say, “I can worship God just as well in nature as in church?” Are these the people that the megachurches cater to? The “seekers” who are diligently searching for God? I don’t think so. I think my fellow church-skippers were not giving a single thought to the Creator. They were busy building sand castles, deepening their tans, and cooling off in the surf.
As for me, I skipped church because I was tired. I needed to get away from church, if only for one Sunday. It didn’t stop me from thinking about God. Even while spending Sunday morning under a beach umbrella, I was reading a book on Christian apologetics and sharing theological insights with my wife. But every once in a while - every twenty or thirty years or so - skipping church just feels like the right thing to do.