I’m bored. Children, at a certain age, seem to have this as their favorite phrase. They tell their parents that school is boring, their friends are boring, supper is boring, the routine around the house is boring, sometimes even saying outright that the parents themselves are boring. Children, at a certain stage of development, equate most anything that is ordered and constant with boredom.
We may not like to admit it but boredom occurs in our spiritual lives. Often when we yearn for an increased presence of God in our lives and begin a new spiritual discipline we get some exciting results quickly. We see things more clearly. We have more energy. There is a sense that God is closer than before and everything seems particularly lively. And then, after a while, those exciting results wane. Maybe it’s because we can’t pay attention too long or maybe it’s that we’re being reminded that our efforts don’t cause the results in the first place but boredom in our prayer and worship does occur. In those times we often drift away from prayer or worship, often feeling guilty for not being able to keep it up or just discouraged that things aren’t clicking like they did for a while. Sometimes we’ll blame that on something beyond ourselves.
In those times, God whispers an invitation to us: Now that you’re not getting a big payoff, will you still be faithful? Will you still worship me? Will you still spend time with me? Invariably in life we slip into worshiping what God gives us rather than worshiping God himself. And when we’re not getting a big rush in our prayer lives, God invites us to deepen our approach to faithfulness. We’re not praying and worshiping to get something from God. We do those things to make an offering to God.
Like children do with us, we get bored with God. He’s so constant, so at ease with how he operates, so faithful to his work that God presents a challenge for our attention span. Sometimes we drift away from God because we’re hurt or angry but maybe more often it’s because we’re bored. God’s great love for his creation sometimes just doesn’t have the pizzazz that we think we want in life. I once even had someone share with me that she just couldn’t imagine what she would do in heaven for all eternity. She wasn’t afraid of not getting in; she was struggling with heaven not being entertaining enough for her.
Church gets boring too it seems. It might even be argued that a healthy church is supposed to get boring. A healthy church is always there, the quality of worship is always high, the leadership is constant, good programs and offerings just keep on coming. No matter what might occur in our roller coaster lives, the church is steady. It will be there even when we’re not there. It is our stability, our foundation, the place we know we can turn no matter how long it has been since we needed it. In our spiritual lives, the church is like the strong and ordered parents who are always there for their children. And, from time to time, we find that constancy boring.
Are you bored with God? Are you bored with St. John’s? Recent attendance figures might indicate that you are. Your parish leadership is committed to offering the highest quality worship and programs that are available. We have invested significant resources into worship, facilities, staff, and programs. Remarkable things are offered here on a daily basis. A regular question in planning meetings has to do with how we might bring things here which will attract more participation. Much has been offered as a result of that question and the question will always be part of our planning. We expect to offer you things that do inspire you. But the question remains: Where are the parishioners when those good offerings are here?
Boredom does seem to be part of our pilgrimage in our spiritual lives. And there are decisions we are allowed to make. Will we be faithful and keep showing up in our prayers and worship, or will we fall into that shallow place of expecting to be entertained by God? God, and your church, offers you rich and good food. Will you come to the feast regularly and be fed? It’s always here but it’s a better feast when you come.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.