Myth #2: Church should be comfortable.
At least at the Ash Wednesday service I went to yesterday, church was rather uncomfortable. It involved a fair amount of time kneeling, waiting, feeling uncertain about what was even going on.
During one stretch of kneeling, my thought process went something like this:
- Alright, we were told to reflect…
- But my knees are kinda sore.
- Normally, after a few minutes of sitting in silence like this, I’d be reaching for my smart phone. But it’s not appropriate to do that right now. (Addicted to my phone perhaps? Might be something to address during Lent. Duly noted.)
- *shifts position* Yeah, this is just uncomfortable. Why do they do this to us?!
- Maybe…because we’re not supposed to feel entirely comfortable in our faith.
Huh. Jesus did tell people uncomfortable things like “sell everything that you have and give it to the poor” (Matt. 19:21, Mark 10:21). And he probably said those things in uncomfortable places, preaching often from boats or mounts (e.g. Sermon on the Mount) while people sat around just wherever they could.
So, I’d like to adjust my previously held myth to this: Church should be comforting. Not necessarily comfortable.
I’m not saying we should all become proponents of self-flagellation. We don’t all have to have stretches of kneeling or silence in corporate worship; different traditions, communities, and individuals do different things and that’s cool.
But, if we’re too comfortable, we don’t realize or admit that we, others, and the world as a whole really do need comforting. We deny need and therefore need goes unmet! If we let ourselves be uncomfortable, we’re likely to realize that we, others, and the world have great needs that can be met with God’s help.