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Goodbye Jesus
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We Hope You'll Be Able to Encourage Us With Your Presence Soon



And there it is... a guilt trip masquerading as sympathy.


My wife's name appears in the church bulletin every week (email only, not printed). She's on the list of people who have health conditions that often prevent them from being at church. She has fibromyalgia, and insomnia, too, and she doesn't "do mornings." Doctor appointments are always scheduled in the afternoon. We don't have service people come to the house in the morning, either. That just doesn't work.


This is a 3-times-a-week church: Sunday morning, Sunday night (the majority of the people at that service were also there in the morning), and Wednesday night. My wife doesn't often make it Sunday morning, but she's usually there Sunday night. She's on the list because she wants to make sure people understand that there's a reason she's only there on Sunday night, and so they won't think she's just a "weak Christian."


The church has four "encouragement groups" that occasionally get together at someone's house for a meal, but mostly what they do is meet after the Sunday night service once a month and sign cards to be mailed. When my sister died, I got one card from an individual, and one card from one of these groups. This is a church with about 200 people in attendance on a typical Sunday morning.


My wife gets a card from one of the groups about once a month. Usually the notes say something like "we've been missing you." The thing is, if they were paying attention they wouldn't be missing her, because she's usually there on Sunday night. They have to walk right past her to get to the card-signing session! And she doesn't leave in a hurry once church is over, either. She's one of the last people to leave. She gets cards, but what she never gets are phone calls from people asking if she'd like them to come visit, or perhaps bring some food over, or if she's feeling up to it, to go to lunch, or even just calling to have a friendly conversation. Just cards.


The last card she got had a note from a person that really shows the purpose of these things: It's a guilt trip. While most people say they miss her and hope she starts feeling better, and that they're praying for her, this person wrote "We hope you'll be able to encourage us with your presence soon!" That's Church-of-Christ thinking. If you're not there, then gee-whiz, someone else may notice that, get discouraged, and not show up next week! You wouldn't want that on your conscience, would you?


Of course, I already know that they think this way, but it was funny to see someone actually put it in writing on one of these "thinking of you" cards.

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