Last Sunday morning I picked up the phone in the office at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, LA. After I said, "Good morning, Unitarian Church," a woman's voice said, "Good morning! Can you tell me what the topic is this morning?"
I thought real fast and said, "The topic is, "COME TO CHURCH ANYWAY!" Come no matter what the topic is, because your church needs you and you need your church, and it doesn't matter what the preacher's going to say!
I was the preacher that morning, and I knew it was true.
The woman patiently waited while I finished my enthusiastic pitch, winding down by lamely adding, "Um, the topic is actually 'On Resilience.' "
"Thank you," she said, and hung up. I'm glad she had a good sense of humor and was nice enough to greet me enthusiastically at the coffee hour after the second service. I had told the story to the congregation as an introduction to the Offering and she was a big enough sport to get a kick out of it, and to thank me for urging her to "Come Anyway!"
Sometimes I wish we could do away with advertising sermon topics in advance altogether and just say for every week, "Today's sermon is called COME ANYWAY." Sermons are living things. They are a response to our life together and may wind up taking a very different direction than what the preacher originally advertised.You never know.
Come anyway. The church needs you. You are, in fact, the church. Worship services are very consistent around here: The Music Director and choir prepare beautiful music, the lay readers are terrific, the Children's Message is adorable and meaningful, the ushers and the flowers gracious and lovely, the coffee hour sumptuous, and your minister does her utmost best to craft a relevant, thought-provoking sermon. But for my money, the most powerful moment that we share comes in the silence right before our meditation. How does that happen? It happens simply by virtue of all those people in all those pews, breathing and being together as one in the spirit of hope and healing, gathered not by common belief (amazingly enough) but by common values and common need. Come be a part of that. Come "Anyway!"