The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.:
Sure. I don’t believe that God keeps a scorecard on each one of us. So we don’t get extra “points” for attending church while on vacation, and we don’t lose points for not attending. God wants us to enjoy life and to experience the rest, leisure activities and recreation that vacations offer.
What matters most is not whether we attend worship while on vacation, but whether or not we acknowledge God. A change of scenery and time with friends and family are great opportunities to acknowledge God’s goodness. There are many ways to worship and appreciate God besides attending church. If you are at the beach or in the mountains, take time to appreciate the beauty and give God thanks. If you are sitting down for a wonderful meal with the people you love, take time to express your gratitude to God.
On the other hand, if attending worship is part of your Sunday morning schedule, there can be great rewards in worshipping while on vacation. It’s an opportunity to experience different worship styles, to get new ideas, and to connect with another church family.
For parents, it’s an opportunity to teach your children that worship is an important way to begin each week — even while on a vacation.
However, I would offer one word of warning to parents: Don’t make your children go to Sunday School while on vacation. My parents did that to me and I still haven’t forgiven them.
All joking aside, there’s one other point I’d like to make about skipping church while on vacation: While we might take a vacation from church and worship, God doesn’t ever take a vacation from us. God is faithful. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Wherever we are, and whatever we are doing, God is with us.
— Send email to Tom Brady at email@example.com.
The Rev. Pam Morrison, addiction recovery minister, The Healing House, Kansas City:
The quick answer to this question is yes. Why? It’s because our relationship with God is not made right by our performing duties, worship being one of them.
The world won’t come to an end if you stay away from a worship service for a weekend or two. But let’s think about what does make our relationship right with God and why with the proper understanding of worship, you might say, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
What makes our relationship “right” with God is not what we perform for him. He doesn’t NEED our worship or our offerings. God, in fact, comments on those things in several places through several prophets and psalmists — and his words aren’t particularly flattering!
When speaking of our offerings, God says he does not need them: “The cattle on a thousand hills are mine!” (Psalm 50:10).
When speaking of the ceremonies we offer up as worship, God says, “Who asked you to trample through my courts?” (Isaiah 1:12) In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of people praising God with their lips while having hearts far from him.
So, God desires us to worship in a particular way — as people really seeking to be in his presence, really seeking to be loved and changed by him, really seeking to honor and love him in return.
Every time we’re in worship we have the opportunity to have a genuine encounter with the real and living God. When one goes into worship with that mind-set, “Oh my gosh, I might really experience God’s presence,” then going to worship becomes a delight you would not want to miss.
In worship, God can change, instruct, build up, convict, bless, strengthen, encourage us in ways we don’t necessarily experience anywhere else. And, by being there, we encourage others.
— Send email to Pam Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.