It’s no mystery, at least to my pastor-husband, that church is not my favorite place to be. While so many Christians experience the Eucharist with humility and awe, my favorite part of it is getting up from my pew to stretch and walk.
I try to feel the depth of the mystery. And sometimes I do. But more often I don’t.
It’s the same with sermons. I focus, focus, focus on what the pastor is saying. I look for the real-world relevance. But after five minutes, my mind wanders. (My pastor-husband wants you to understand that I do not attend his congregation, but one nearer our home.)
The Prayers of the People should lead me to focus on others in the world. But instead, I tap my smartwatch to see the time, the weather and wonder how near we are to the Passing of the Peace—painful for an introvert like me.
What do I most enjoy? The Confession. When I was 9 (back then I attended a Southern Baptist church with my family), I “rededicated my life” on a Wednesday evening, only three days after answering an altar call “to be saved.” I felt I’d sinned at school. Most people would’ve waited a year before seeking rededication. So perhaps confession is in my blood. Or guilt.
Yet I find other ways to stay in touch with God. I read three devotionals every morning. Daily Grace is one. (I’m responsible for putting it on our website, but because of my short memory, by the time I read it again, it’s new to me.) I also read Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation and a “3-Minute Retreat” at ignatianspirituality.com.
Sometimes I worry about what God thinks of me. Is God unhappy because worship services are not where I love to be? This is when I thank God for grace. I’ve worked for the church, in various forms, for years. Perhaps working for the church is God’s way of staying in touch with me.
Researchers at Barna Group recently discovered a new group of people—made up mostly of baby boomers like me. They are people who love Jesus, but not the church (LJNC). They are different from people (including many millennials) who are spiritual but not religious (SBNR).
The LJNCs pray and enjoy spending time in nature for reflection. Barna researchers say that while they are not drawn by “authoritative sources of religious faith, such as the Bible or religious books,” they do “incorporate informal practices into their lives.”
In a “3-Minute Retreat,” Mike Lorenzo recently wrote:
“We’re invited to take time to unplug from our busy lives and experience God’s presence all around us every day. When we make this an intentional practice we begin to see God everywhere, not just in Church on Sunday. We’re constantly affirmed by the knowledge that someone much greater than ourselves loves us. God’s love is written in everything, the rustling of trees, good times with friends, or a cup of coffee in the morning.”
Where do you find God?
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA.