“Have you made it to any Holy Week services?,” I asked my friend Wednesday morning.

“No, I haven’t. I would like to go to church this Sunday for Easter though,” pausing for a second or two, “but I don’t want to be one of those Christians who only go to church on Easter and Christmas. You know?”

Yes, I do know.

Around this time every year one will hear a joke or two about “Easter and Christmas” Christians, people who really only go to church on those two Sundays throughout the year. So, I knew very well what she was talking about.

“Well, that is who you are though in this season of life and it’s ok. Don’t let the judgments or perceptions of folks who don’t know you hinder you from being who and where you want to be this Sunday or the next,” I replied.

Not sure where my friend will choose to be this Sunday, or if my words only added to her place of restlessness, but I do know her authenticity and story during this season of her life has brought me to a different place.

Listening to her desire to worship corporately this Sunday, but possibly choosing not to because she does not want to be an “Easter/Christmas” Christian (which my friend Ingrid reminded me ALL Christians are), led me to ponder the tension she and so many others find themselves in this week.

First-

How freakin’ cool she has a longing to worship with the Body of Christ at all given her holy discontentment with the church (which I can empathize in some ways and sympathize with in others).

Second-

How beautiful that she longs to worship with the Body of Christ on one of the two days where the church celebrates and boldly proclaims some crazy radical news- Christ has died and has RISEN and God is WITH us.

Finally, how sad it would be if church humor or inability to connect with a growing number of restless discontent people in our communities would hinder her from worshiping God and proclaiming with other believers that “Christ the Lord has risen today!” if she desires to.

My friend has some steps to take, I know and she knows.

I also know her story is not everyone’s story who will guest a church once or twice a year.

I also know, as one who has committed most of her life to ministry in and through the church, the church has some steps to take and rethinking, listening & imagining to do out of love for God, neighbor and self.

We are storied people, stories all the way down to the core. May we, the church, take the time to get to know the stories of people not walking into the wooden (often locked) doors of our church buildings and those who fill the pews every Sunday morning. To be honest, it is going to take stepping outside of what we have deemed as being “the right way of being church” and start moving with God into the neighborhood, sitting and drinking at the table with people who would for whatever reason may not want to step inside of a church front or back door.

And church, if you will, don’t do it because of fear of the church “dying” or not meeting your budget for this fiscal year. Do it because Love calls us to follow Love into the neighborhood and has modeled what it looks like to love people well, be present in the lives of people in our community and let people know they are loved. That kind of Good News needs not be limited to people who walk in the doors of the church on Sunday morning or any other day of the week.

So, the church pews may be filled this Sunday morning. If the pews of your church are, I pray it will be a place where those who walk in are glad they came. I pray it will be a place where people actually want to be a part of all’s of its life because the taste and see Love on the move in the lives of the people there, a place where people are made to feel welcomed regardless of what season they find themselves in and know they are LOVED.

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