On Guilt: “It is about as hard to absolve yourself of your own guilt as it is to sit in your own lap. Wrongdoing sparks guilt sparks wrongdoing ad nauseam, and we all try to disguise the grim process from both ourselves and everybody else. In order to break the circuit we need friends before whom we can put aside the disguise, trusting that when they see us for what we fully are, they won’t run away screaming with, if nothing worse, laughter. Our trust in them leads us to trust their trust in us. In their presence the fact of our guilt no longer makes us feel and act out our guiltiness. For a moment at least the vicious circle stops circling and we can step down onto the firm ground of their acceptance, where maybe we’ll be able to walk a straight line again. “Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus said to the paralytic, then “Rise,” whereupon the man picked up his bed and went home (Matthew 9:2-7).” From Buechner’s “Wishful Thinking”
Church is as much about being with people as it is about being with God, and maybe even more. Sure, we’re there to sing and stand and sit and pray and pay. All that is important. And on a good day, we can even steal a moment of mental peace to reflect on our own spiritual health.
Yes, we need to have time for God and ourselves at church.
Yes yes yes.
But, we also need time with others, connecting our lives with their lives, our souls with their souls.
We need to see others walking in with their limps and faith-failings. We need to know that they don’t have it together and we need them to know we don’t have it together either. And we need their smile to tell us we’re okay. And they need us to smile back. And I’m not talking about the stranger-smile that says “Hi. I don’t know you but as a good Christian I’m obligated to look happy to see you.” Not that kind of smile. We need the familiar smile that says “Oh my gosh you’re here and I know your deep dark secrets and you’re here and I’m glad to see you here.”
That’s what church is really supposed to be about.
And I hope you have that at your church. And if you don’t, may I suggest something? Go sit with someone. And then sit with them the next Sunday. And then maybe the next Sunday, take a moment talk to them. And the next Sunday? Maybe y’all can all go to lunch. And maybe in a few months or so, you’ll be able to really talk through some of the issues of life. Because that’s what church is supposed to be about, right?