If you are a “C E C er”, I hope you were welcomed

Today was a day for “C E C ers”. I first heard that phrase the year we lived one year in northern Illinois. That was a time when my ex was still going to church with me. It was Easter Sunday.

The church we had elected to attend held a pancake breakfast after the early service. We sat there with our six month old baby. We had only been attending the church since we had moved to town, two weeks before our son was born. An elder came to our table and sat down. He had been busy setting up folding chairs in preparation for the second service. He was tired…and grouchy.

He started complaining about the C E C ers and the extra work they caused. I stared blankly at my husband. I was wondering what in the world he could have been meaning.

Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I couldn’t resist asking this stranger what he meant. He kind of growled “Christmas and Easter Christians”. I giggled a little to myself and then became very puzzled. He certainly had a disdain for these people who show up twice a year and provide extra work for him and the other elders setting about to accommodate them.

I thought about the C E C ers when I attended the church service today. It was the third service of the day and the sanctuary was packed. I don’t know how many attended the 7:00 and 9:30 service. I’m sure for the day the total attendance at least doubled if not close to tripled. There are Sundays when I’ve sat in the sanctuary and the number of empty spaces has been far larger than the number of occupants.

Fortunately our sanctuary is larger than our congregation. With three services, the house may have been crowded, but there was no reason to set up additional chairs.

I attend church fairly regularly now, but I know there are people who consider themselves members who very seldom ever darken the door of the sanctuary. I am also certain that churches all over the world have the same situation. Many people are satisfied with showing up twice a year. Some do it out of a sense of obligation and guilt. Others do it because they figure there’s a good chance to catch up with old friends.

The attitude of that elder in Illinois continues to puzzle me. Even if members only show up twice a year, shouldn’t they be welcomed with the same friendship that we, the ones who are there most of the time, extend to each other on a weekly basis? Why, as “Christians” , grumble that they are there? Why should we feel burdened by extra work?

There was a period of twenty years of my life that I declared myself unchurched. I didn’t even show up twice a year. It was a time when I didn’t feel I’d find the answers to questions I’ve had most of my life. It was a time when I felt hypocrisy from others in the church much more strongly than acceptance.

Now that I have been back for five years, there are still Sunday mornings when I feel a struggle over whether I really wish to go or not. Some days church wins, sometimes the Sunday newspaper and bed wins.

I’m finally getting more answers to my life long quest for understanding, but it has not been easy. I feel the need to go more strongly most the time than I feel to stay home. I identify with the C E C ers, however. It’s not easy to be committed to going to church on a regular basis. There are weeks now when I often ask myself how committed I actually am. Some people only feel the pull twice a year.

But that doesn’t give the leaders of the church the right to grumble. These people should be welcomed and invited in. One does not make friends with thorns. It is much better to offer a rose. If congregations truly wish to offer Christian love, they should do it every week to everyone. So if you are a C E C er, I hope you felt welcome today and did not happen to meet the grinch who steals Christmas…or Easter. Namaste. Attic Annie


1 Comment

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One response to “If you are a “C E C er”, I hope you were welcomed

  1. freedomactionnow

    Our church (Presbyterian) holds a pancake breakfast almost every year. One of the prime movers, a guy who had been running it – with several volunteers – every year for at least a decade (maybe two or more), died recently, and the pancakes disappeared. Just this year, they reappeared – as good as ever.

    The church was almost crowded this Easter. And we welcomed 17 new members. They tell me that there was a time when there were over 1500 on the rolls. Recently, there are about 250 (so we get by with one service).

    I can probably sympathsize with the grumbling elder, but still, the original meaning of “deacon” is “servant” (somewhere in Acts it tells of how the first deacons were appointed). I think he might have been glad to see people actually come. (And I hope he wasn’t the only guy setting up chairs.)

    “… there are still Sunday mornings when I feel a struggle over whether I really wish to go or not.” I can understand that. What can a church give its members? I think that one of the main things is the pastor – they guy in the pulpit. Does he say anything worthwhile in his sermons? Is he “preaching to the choir”? He needs to connect to the people in the congregation.

    Another thing is what the church does between Monday and Saturday. Bible study is one thing, but it’s also important to connect with the community.

    Our church is an “inner-city” church. The church has a pretty good outreach – they distribute food to homeless; up until recently, they gave out day-bus-passes; they have programs for children…

    “I’m finally getting more answers to my life long quest for understanding, but it has not been easy.”

    I understand that, too. By the time we get it figured out, it’s time to check out. I think the most we can do it to keep looking. A church is one place that can help us look in the right places.