Taken from The Indianapolis Star January 11th:
A week ago, I was sitting at home glued to the weather station, trying to decide whether or not I would ca ncel Sunday worship because of the forecast. At the time, there was no snow, so I would have to decide based on predictions. I did not want to put members at risk by encouraging them to drive in bad weather, but I also did not want to look like a wimp, afraid of the mere possibility of snow.
Sunday morning as I drove to the church, I realized the predictions had actually been correct. The snow was coming fast and furious. We ended up canceling worship. On the slippery drive home, I played with the question of why worship is important in the first place. I can pray at home in bed. If I want a lecture on how to live my life, I can call my mother. I can sing in the shower. Why do so many people make the effort to gather in houses of worship, even in the midst of a snowstorm?
In the faith tradition I claim, worship is said to be the very heart of the church’s life. When we come together as people of faith, we form a community that shapes and nurtures our faith. This community also serves as a visible witness of our faith. God calls us into a worshiping community where we are cared for, we learn from others, and we are empowered so that we may then go out and serve God in the world. Worship is about so much more than simply the prayers and the singing and the sermon. Worship is about a community gathering.
People sometimes tell me they are Christian, but they do not attend worship anywhere. That is a bit like being a driver but never entering a vehicle or a lover but never coming into contact with another person.
Christianity, by its very definition, is a communal faith; it cannot be practiced alone.
I will still cancel worship if the weather is dangerous, but on most Sundays the power of community wins.
✭ The Rev. Teri Thomas is pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.