Time with friends and family – what is the cost?

This is a busy time for most people. Periods leading up to Christmas is a hectic time for work, and prevalence of school exams  plus end of school terms also add up to mean a busy period for kids and parents. At such times, the church becomes an important source of respite, refreshments and affirmation and encouragement. Given the centrality of Sunday services, church at this time is an important factor.

This is also a time for planning for the coming year. Ministers generally embark on the planning process at this time and often lend support and momentum to the process and all who are involved in it.

Notwithstanding a long weekend (Melbourne Cup Day) therefore, the question of everyone counting on everyone else to be around on Sundays is one all church goers need to think about at this time. We cannot exhort each other, hand on heart, and expect to prop each other up, build each other and encourage each other if we are consistently away on Sundays. It becomes even more difficult when Sundays are often the only times we have where we can otherwise expect to see each other.

Maybe I am old schooled. Maybe my expectation that when I go to church I want to see everyone there – especially the shepherd – is misplaced, in this day and age. There is now so much emphasis on family time and time for good friends, that the cost is that of the wider community. Maybe out of necessity we focus on increasingly small groups to build relationships, especially with family, relatives and close friends. Hence if we are with these people, being with the wider community of faith becomes less important. Maybe that is acceptable now.

I guess if that is the situation it will take more effort than ever before, to build a community of faith, because the cost – that of giving up exclusive recreation time with family and close friends – gets increasingly higher and such sacrifices and priorities become increasingly harder to bear.