I guess I was a weird kid. In the 1970’s, while most children my age looked forward to special holiday cartoons on prime time television (almost always aired on Wednesdays and no way to record them), I was more excited that my family got to go to church in the middle of the week during the seasons of Advent and Lent. “It’s an Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” and “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” had nothing on potluck meals with my church family and singing my favorite hymns in worship. More than that, during those seasons I felt Jesus drawing me close, giving me an eagerness to contemplate the significance of his birth, his death and his resurrection for my life. Yes, even as a child, I knew something special was going on in these midweek gatherings. The food was mediocre, the songs were mostly in minor keys, and yet, I found myself getting to know and enjoy God in worship in profound ways. And if that’s weird, I guess I’d rather be weird than miss those opportunities.
Decades later, I still value and look forward to the seasons of Advent and Lent as special times of intimacy with Jesus—and with the Church—the family He gave me to encourage and nurture my faith. I always gain new insights into Jesus’ love for me. My calling and work as a disciple is often reshaped, renewed or refined during those weeks. I am challenged to confront my sin, yet experience more deeply the freedom of laying it at the cross of Jesus where I find forgiveness and refreshment.
While cartoons are no longer a temptation, I confess that there are plenty of things that tempt me to skip midweek worship. As an adult, I have more things on my plate that demand my time and attention; fatigue makes my couch look more inviting than a pew. But when I recall past experiences, I realize that I don’t want to give up the chance to sit down with my best friend Jesus for an extra hour. It may sound weird, but that’s the best place to find rest, and the most productive way to spend my time.