Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: I know you preachers think that everyone should go to church. But I don’t go and don’t really intend to start. To me church is boring. Does the Bible say anything about church attendance? — D. L.
Dear D. L.: Lots of people don’t go to church. The malls, golf courses, homes, fishing lakes and ball fields are full of them every Sunday morning. The most basic reason why millions of people do go to church, however, is very simple. It’s just this. People go to church, give their money, are faithful in service to God, etc. because they know that God loves them and they want to return his love in a tangible way ... by spending time with him and with his people, in his house. Yes, it really is that simple.
As far as what the Bible says about church attendance, Acts 2:42 says that the earliest Christians, after Jesus returned to heaven ... met and ”devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread (Holy Communion) and to prayer.” Hebrews 10:25 is a command from God, not a suggestion. It says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some (non-church goers) are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day (of Christ’s return) approaching.”
There are churches everywhere D.L. Indeed some probably are “boring.” But many are vibrant and exciting. I urge you to search until you find the right one for you.
Dear Father Paul: What do you think of the Tea Party movement? — Ben.
Dear Ben: I think it is a good, and much needed, thing for America, at this point in our nation’s history. I attended one of their local Atlanta area meetings and I was impressed with their meeting content and everyone I met. They were not a bunch of right wing kooks as the media would have us believe. I met doctors, teachers, firemen, moms and yes, one or two other preachers also. All stripes of Americans were there, whites, blacks and Hispanics ... Republicans and Democrats as well. The only “group” I didn’t see were young people. It was definitely an “over 45 crowd.” The Tea Party leadership needs to address this problem in my opinion.
Hopefully, the Tea Party movement will do some good in bringing America full circle back to the principles of our founding fathers. I am praying that it will.
Dear Father Paul: I visited a church a couple of Sundays ago, as the guest of a friend, and I was appalled at the manner of dress I saw. Shorts, flip-flops and tank tops were the order of the day for around one third of the people. The rest were very casually, but tastefully dressed. I did not see one single neck-tie. Boy, things certainly have changed since I last attended church. What do you think? — No name please.
Dear Friend: I am tempted to ask whether the last time you went to church was before 1980, but I won’t. Just kidding.
But seriously, and sadly I think, the age of “just be comfortable, and come as you are,” is in full bloom through out the land ... and sadly, in the church as well. As the saying goes, “times, they are a-changing.” “Casual Fridays” have turned into “Casual Everyday” in most businesses, even banks and lawyers offices. I met with an attorney in his office recently and he was dressed in a Georgia Bulldog golf shirt. I couldn’t help wondering whether the judges are now allowing lawyers to practice in their courts dressed like that. But I kept my mouth shut. “Dressing down” is now the new normal almost everywhere, and those of us who are a little older, and perhaps a little more conservative, are just going to have to get used to it I suspect. I do feel sorry for the manufacturers of men’s suits and neckties though.
So, what’s the correct dress standard for attending church? My opinion is this. Dress like you would attending your mom or dad’s funeral ... or to a meeting with the president ... or anyone that you want to “honor.” After all, at church, you are meeting with (and hopefully honoring) the King of the Universe. That may mean (for some) a nice golf shirt, and clean pants ... for others a coat and tie. Your choice. It certainly won’t, however, mean flip-flops and a tank top.
Do you have a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your question in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia ... ”the Ancient, Historic, Undivided Church For Today’s Generation.” More info, directions and service times are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com You are invited to worship with us this Sunday.