On Sunday mornings, a great division takes place among American people as some go to church and most stay home. Those who stay home are not taking a week off; church is simply not part of their lives. As far as they are concerned, houses of worship are little more than pretty antiques, fussed over by wishful thinkers who do not know when to admit they are wrong and go home. It is one of the most peculiar things twentieth-century human beings can do—to come together week after week with no intention of being useful or productive, but only of facing an ornate wall to declare things they cannot prove about a God they cannot see.
Our word for it is worship, and it is hard to justify in this day and age; but those of us who do it over and over again begin to count on it. This is how we learn where we fit. This is how we locate ourselves between the past and the future, between our hopes and our fears, between the earth and the stars. This is how we learn who we are and what we are supposed to be doing: by coming together to sing and to pray, to be silent and to be still, by peering into the darkness together and telling each other what we see when we do.
We may baffle our unbelieving friends and neighbors, but it cannot be helped. Half the time we baffle ourselves, proclaiming good news when the news is so bad, trusting the light when the sky is so dark, continuing to wait on the Savior in our midst when all the evidence suggests that he packed up and left a long, long time ago.
T o be theologically correct, we have been waiting on the Savior ever since the first Ascension Day, when Jesus led his disciples to a mount called Olivet just outside of Jerusalem, spoke to them for the last time, and disappeared inside ...1