One of our members tells us why she thinks it is worth going to church even when there are so many other things she could be doing!
Why do we go to Church, when we could be going for a family cycle ride, having fun at the swimming pool, or walking in the Ashdown Forest, admiring the beautiful views and letting the fragrance of freshly fallen leaves pervade our souls? (Well, if the children let us, that is!) Why do we go to Church when we could be painting the garage, weeding the garden or putting up that shelf, which our busy work-filled week has stopped us from doing? Why do we go to Church when we could be visiting Aunty Bella, who is now too frail to leave her house, or catching up with old school/University friends?
In our busy lives, where these days both parents are usually working at least part of the week, it is hard to fit everything into a short weekend. Although I am still fortunate enough to be able to spend most of my week at home we are still pulled in several different directions at weekends; the need to visit family - some who live on the other side of the country and the constraints of the children’s sporting activities mean that the jobs around the house usually don’t get done! Yet we choose to come to Church nearly every Sunday. We have been doing this for so long now that I have to ask myself why we do it. Why do we make ourselves get up before 8am, rush through breakfast, pester the children to get dressed to go to Church, when we could be doing something else?
For me the answer is fivefold: it is a time to worship God alongside others who share the same faith; it is sometimes (if I’m not involved in the children’s groups!) a brief respite from all the busyness and chaos of the week; it is a place where we can be challenged to learn about how God wants us to make changes in our lives and outlook; it is an important foundation in our children’s upbringing; it is a chance to catch up with friends.
How do we worship God at St John’s?
Most people probably think that worship involves singing lots of boring old-fashioned songs in the Church service. For me it is not. I love singing songs to God at home, but I’m not in the least musical and singing with other people in Church is a time when I feel like crawling under the pew. I do, however, enjoy listening to others singing, and while I feel more uplifted by the faster, more modern songs, some of the words in the more traditional songs often strike a chord deep within. However, I think that worship is more than singing. It also involves listening to and serving God - and so I overcome my shyness and help now and then with the children’s groups or by leading the prayers. (Even though I've done this many times I still feel my knees tremble and my stomach turn to jelly!)
In what way is Church a respite?
In the week I am so busy rushing around. At Church I can sit down and relax for an hour without seeing all the housework that needs to be done. It gives time to pause and reflect. As I listen to God speak through the words of the songs and prayers, and the Bible as it is read and explained, I also have the wonderful opportunity to experience a sense of his peace.
How can going to Church help children?
When I was growing up I only went to Church at Christmas and Easter, and for Brownie parades. To be honest I found it boring most of the time, because I didn’t want to sit still through a long Church Service. Looking back now, I wish I’d had the opportunity of learning more about the Bible. The children’s groups at St John’s are aimed at making the Bible more accessible to children to enable them to understand God’s word in a fun way. If you think about it, the Bible is full of practical information about how to live peacefully alongside others. Where would we be if it was okay to kill each other or to steal from one another? If it was okay to lie, who would we trust? I want my children to be able to recall parts of the Bible easily and have an understanding of its meaning, so that when they are faced with difficult decisions they will remember what God says. I find remembering a lot harder now that I’m learning it later in life!