“Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” is the quaint King James Bible rendering of a sentiment that has always been important to me.
Sitting in a Sunday school class recently, with a half-dozen adults and one sleepy teenager, we talked about this passage. In a blog devoted to travel, I am making an attempt to reflect on all the places I go—whether to Peru or to my back porch. Since I have been in the habit of “going to church” for 66 years, it seems a worthy subject for at least one blog post.
Early on, I went to church because my parents took me and no alternative existed. A six-year old can’t stay home by himself. Later, I went because my friends were there. Still later, I went because it was a good habit. Who knows when I might learn something?
However, my experience is that in our churches we tend to teach our religious heritage and culture, not the Bible.
I was in a class with 15 college-educated “progressive” Baptists a few years ago when the lesson was on Noah, the Ark and the Rainbow. The class members were trying to fit all the animals of the world onto the Ark. They had little success. I suggested that maybe the story was about Hope and not about engineering. They seemed relieved. A conversation about dinosaurs might have been a real problem.
My last fifteen years prior to retirement, I was the South Carolina “bishop” for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. My joke was that I would preach for free, but that I earned my pay when I attended Sunday school.
- Example: One Sunday, in an older men’s class, one of the members was angry because some 12-year-old boy somewhere had folded the American flag the wrong way. The gentleman had brought enough pamphlets to put in every church bulletin that week so the whole congregation would know the correct way to fold the flag. He ranted for the first 20 minutes of the “Bible study hour” about a kid’s honest mistake. I wonder if he might have been as passionate about anything actually in the Bible?
Still, I persevere, because the Bible is usually, sorta, more-or-less, approximately the textbook when we go to church. Who knows, we may actually read a psalm or something. We will probably say a prayer.
Besides, people are there and I need them and they need me. They even listen to my peculiar views occasionally. Anyhow, I keep going, and I don’t think I am any worse for it.