Being a dad, priest, and husband, I can easily sympathize how difficult it is to schedule family life with work life. With my daughters growing up so quickly and going to and from programs such as ballet, preschool, music classes and etc. it can be quite daunting to make time for anything else in the day. We like most families have both parents working. As a priest my schedule is much like a doctor, unpredictable and on-call at all times. My wife’s professional career much the same. Life as you can imagine is busy for our family.
However, there are some things that are important to prioritize within our busy schedule, mainly, God. At home we do simple things like praying together grace before times of eating, talking sometimes about scripture passages and just leading a life that is of discipleship in our encounters with others. However, Sunday Eucharistic Service takes priority over everything else and dare I say Sunday Holy Eucharist should not be an option.
Society–our church family members who are influenced by society–now tend to place sports, children events and etc over and above Holy Eucharist service (Sunday service). Yet, I fear that these priorities are distracting us from prioritizing Jesus and God in our life, which is fully experienced in the church family when we worship together, and when we reach the summit of our spiritual experience with God when we partake in receiving communion in the most holy and blessed sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. God should be an everyday experience, yes, but that experience doesn’t get heightened or furthered if we fail to bring ourselves before God for the whole hour of church on Sunday–really that isn’t a lot of time for us to spend in our Lord’s holy presence and to receive the most precious gifts God has given us through the breaking of the bread.
Sunday service, is often misinterpreted as a social gathering, sometimes thought of a place to go only in times of strife (it can be, but should not be the sole reason), or sometimes to get our prayers answered. However, the purpose of church is more about understanding our apprenticeship under Christ’s direction and to develop and deepen our relationship with God, to heal and reconcile our misgivings throughout the week through the sacraments of the church and to learn about who we are as a church in the context as a the mystical body of Christ (as a church family we are to grow together, learn together, journey together, suffers together, pray together and most importantly become one body in Christ together through communion). Therefore, it is quite important that we schedule our time in with God and I would encourage all families to do so, and even consider it mandatory like a doctor’s appointment.
Too often, I get ask why are there no young people at church. Well, the answer is quite simple, if us as parents don’t prioritize God and Church first over stuff like music practice, hockey and etc, then our children won’t prioritize church or God. They will choose other stuff first, rather than the salvation of their souls. After all, we all need to evaluate what it is God wants for us and to consider and act on what it is to be in a right relationship with God. We can’t simply do that on our own. And the main way us Anglicans achieve that connection is in the great gift that Jesus left us in his passion is in the sacraments of the church (baptism, confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, holy orders, holy matrimony and holy Eucharist). The sacraments bring us into full communion with God and with one another–there is no gift greater to receive and there is no greater gift to help us to grow into a deeper relationship with God.
So my brothers and sisters in Christ, if you are the fence whether you should attend church, my humble advice is that it isn’t a matter of whether we should or shouldn’t go, it must be prioritized that we must go, no excuses. Church isn’t about convenience or how it makes us feel, but rather it is about coming to discover what God has in store for us and how can we do that if we don’t spend about an hour a week on Sunday to be in communion with our Lord Jesus Christ at the table he sets for us all. Thus, I invite all to God’s table and experience the richness of our God, and encourage strongly to prioritize God first within your busy schedules. After all, God has scheduled all of us into His busy schedule for a wonderful breakfast encounter with Father, Son and Holy Spirit on Sunday mornings.
May God’s Love and Mercy Bless you and your loved ones abundantly,
Rev. Billy Isenor, OSF