Most ministers, I suppose, fall onto the couch on Sunday evening and reflect on the day’s events—the worship, the things that went well and those that didn’t. We also try to remember what someone told us as they were exiting the church. When people exit the church, they say things like “good sermon” and “Aunt Sue broke her toe; please pray for her.” We get told several of those Aunt Sue stories and unless we write them down at the time we are told them, then Sunday night is a lesson in futility. “Whose Aunt Sue?” “Was it a toe or ankle?”
Last Sunday night was a lesson in contrasts. First, as I watched the NFL game I saw a commercial that caught my eye. It caught my eye because it was a fitness center commercial, and Lord knows I need some fitness. They were advertising amazingly low rates and then this: “No commitment.” I think they meant that by signing up you would not have to make a long-term commitment to their company. I don’t think they meant that to get healthy would require no commitment.
Regardless the intent of the message, the “No commitment” message hit home. Many ministers lament the lack of commitment in today’s world to the local church. However, it does no good to grieve this; lamenting only focuses on the negative and makes it sound like we long for the “good ole days.”
There is a lot about the “good ole days,” by the way, that was good. One thing is that church members were at church almost every Sunday, unless the dog died or Aunt Sue (the one with the bad toe) died. (Can you say commitment?) Those were also good church days also because we remember them as being safe times and happy times. We felt safe at church.
I admit that the “good ole days” weren’t good for everyone. They weren’t good for black Americans nor were they good for women in abusive situations who had no options. I could go on and on about how those days may have been good for me but not for everyone. I think we have made the “good ole days” better in our minds than they actually were. As Will Rogers once said, “Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never were.”
So, my Sunday night reflections took me back to an easier time, seemingly safer time at church, and a time when there was a deep commitment to the local church.
However, I think it is also imperative to acknowledge commitment when we see it and remember the commitment of so many in today’s world who keep all of our churches going. So, last Sunday night, after seeing the commercial about “No commitment,” I thought about an usher at our church. She had attended the West Georgia Wolves football game on Saturday night in Valdosta (half way to Miami) and had gotten home about 4:00 AM. But guess who was at her post for the 8:30 AM worship service to hand out bulletins? It would have been so easy to call in sick or to make a football game excuse, but she did not. That’s what you call commitment.
It’s the Thanksgiving season, and I thank God for dedicated servants of Christ. She and a host of volunteers like her keep my church, and yours, humming every week. By the way, I don’t know if she slept during the sermon, but if she did, that is alright by me.