“Easy like Sunday morning” are lyrics that can grate. Not because it’s hilariously difficult to get everyone ready and into the car on a Sunday (it is!) but because of something much deeper. Because church, for some, is a place of deep loneliness. Of profound wounds. Of rejection. Of distrust. Of having to stand next to offenders and hear their voices proclaim worship. Of realizing your own role as an offender and having to encounter those you’ve hurt.
Once, in a room full of people, we were asked the question, “Is it easy to love the Church?” Everyone around me nodded quickly and happily, saying, “ Yes! We love our church!” My jaw dropped.
This is not my experience. I am bloody from my attempts to love the Church. I do, in fact, fiercely and dearly love the Church, but the journey to love has been nothing short of war, and I know I will always have to battle for it.
“ONE BEAUTIFUL THING ABOUT WOUNDS IS THAT IT MAKES YOU MORE AWARE OF THE PAIN OTHERS CARRY.”
For the destroyed, the despairing, the displaced, the angry, the abused, the ignored, Sunday is not a day of ease. Certainly for staff and their families, Sunday is rarely a day of ease.
That’s why on my way to church I have followed the example of a dear friend by trying to develop a rhythm of praying for the people who have to take a deep breath before they walk in the door. Who have to duck in the bathroom for a quick minute to gather themselves. Who are walking bravely with fragile hearts.
Let’s not forget these brothers and sisters.
A Prayer for Those Who Hurt on Sundays:
For those who cry hardest on Sundays—
For those who will fight in the car—
For those who tremble as they approach the stage—
For those who must brave the service alone—
For those who struggle to worship—
For those who struggle to hear others worship—
For those who long to belong but suspect they don’t—
For those who struggle to trust—
For those who have been betrayed, rejected, excluded—
For their sake Lord, we ask you: will you overwhelm these precious souls with your presence? Will you strengthen them? Will you remind them that you see? Will you reveal the gospel to them in a fresh new way that bolsters their faith and resolve?
We praise you for the beautiful togetherness we so often find in the Body of Christ, but we beg you — teach us to trust you when that togetherness is broken. Remind us of your character — that you are a just God who fights for us, who loves truth, whose love reaches a depth we’ll never understand, whose lovingkindness never fails, whose very nature reveals the importance of togetherness.
We know that loving the unlovable is possible because we have experienced your love when we were unlovable. We know that forgiving our offenders is possible because we have experienced your forgiveness for our most horrific offenses. We know we will forever share something with those we resent — a desperate need of you. May that truth humble us and draw us to compassion and restoration.
Jesus, today, be near to us. Be real to us. Restore to us the joy of our salvation. Deepen our personal worship, and redeem our corporate worship.