Two weeks ago I was NY with the high school youth group. It was all about Jesus, faith in action, and Christian love. Faith was explicit and intentional. It was great, but I was exhausted by the end.
Last week, I took off on a much needed vacation. I spent it on the beach in South Carolina for a big family reunion.
If the week in NY was all about explicit faith, the week with my family was the opposite. My extended family runs the spectrum of church-i-ness. We occasionally prayed before we ate, but most talk of God or faith was cousin-ly checking-in about my profession and daily life.
On vacation with 40 of my family members, I took a bit of a vacation from God.
I brought my daily devotional book, my Bible, and a heavy stack of articles and books to read. But I read pure beach pulp. Didn't crack open my Bible, and missed a whole week of daily devotionals. I'm not sure I ever prayed, except in the way that playing in the water or appreciating the beauty of moonlight on the ocean is prayer.
I came back Sat afternoon, but I was still on vacation from work. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to check out another church - maybe the McLean Bible Church or to pop in on worship at a former congregation. But when Sunday morning rolled around, I did something I haven't done for a long time: I skipped church.
Went to brunch with one of my best friends instead. And I have to say, it was pleasant - I understand why people do that. In fact it was so pleasant, that I began to wonder if I could slip into a life where faith and my church community were in the background or, perhaps, not present at all.
The question on my mind that morning wasn't "why don't people go to church." Rather, it was "why do they go at all?"
By Sunday afternoon, hanging out with other friends, the conversation had turned to community, living for something larger than yourself, a meaningful life, music and the elevation of the soul. For me, God is present in that mix.
It was pleasant to skip church, and pleasant to take a bit of a vacation from the daily routine which includes the daily routine of prayer and scripture.
But the time away is still time spent with God in laughter and appreciation and love. God is present, just less explicit. I know that I will always be drawn back into Christian community. Without it, my life would feel hollow. I would start to hunger and thirst for it. For God.
I woke up this morning eager to pray and to put my life explicitly back in the context of God, church, and faith. I'm grateful for a great vacation, but even more grateful for the life I return to.