Hope for Living: We spend time on the relationships we care about


How often do you go to church?

I ask because almost two months ago, we had more people in church on a Sunday than I can remember having in a long time.

Why was that? Because it was Easter Sunday. Everyone seems to want to include church in their celebration of Easter. Why is that? Why is it that, along with Christmas, Easter moves so many people to go to church?

A more pertinent question would be: Why don’t those same people go to church at other times of the year? The answer, for some of them, is that they don’t really believe in Jesus. They accept the religious context of the historical events of the Christmas and Easter holidays, so they go to church to celebrate them.

But believing in the story of Jesus of Nazareth as the story of their own salvation is another matter. If it weren’t, they’d probably be in church more often.

I say “probably” because there are also those who do believe in Jesus but still have difficulty going to church. And that’s not a good thing. It’s harmful to a person’s faith to stay away from church.

Think of it in terms of a relationship you really care about. How healthy would your marriage be if you never went home to your spouse? How healthy would your relationship with your children be if you never took time to go to their games or dance recitals or school activities? How close would you be with those you love if you didn’t spend time with them?

Going to church is how we spend time with God. Or rather, it’s how God spends time with us, enriching our faith through the hearing of His Word and the eating and drinking of His body and blood.

The Bible encourages us to: “… not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

There’s a lot in that verse, but I find particularly interesting the words “as is the habit of some.” Those words tell us that, even in the earliest days of the Church, there were those who didn’t go.

I think that’s because the struggle of the Christian life (and it is a struggle) is with actual evil, what St. Paul calls “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Those forces don’t want us to have a relationship with Jesus; they’d love nothing more than to separate us from Him altogether. So they tempt us to stay away from church.

Don’t fall for it, folks. Church is where Jesus is. If it’s important to spend time with people you love, it’s even more important to spend time with your Savior. Whether it’s Christmas or Easter, or smack dab in the middle of summer, whenever it is, have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ …

… Go to church.

Dan O’Connor is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.