There may be some similarities between a bowling league and a church. I’m not sure about that. I like to bowl but am not very good at it and have not been to an alley in a long time. Probably the last time I was at an alley it smelled of cigarettes and beer. So there you go. I’m no expert obviously. But people bond over sports–I believe it fair to call bowling a sport but I can be corrected–and people have cathartic experiences is my guess. I’ve seen people jump up and shout when they knock down all the pins or most of them.
Throwing a gutter ball is not positive for one’s self-image. I guess that is why most of us do not bowl often. It can be really depressing if all you can muster is a gutter ball. But what are the similarities between a church and a bowling league? It’s a group effort; it usually creates or deepens friendships; and it requires some kind of consistent effort.
I’m not convinced by folks who think that going bowling or [fill in the blank} is as good or better than worshipping together. And one of the reasons is that the differences are too great. For one thing, the Church (note I’m spelling it with a capital C) is founded on a belief that God has revealed truth about God and the world. That revelatory aspect is missing from bowling and most other sports. Second, the Church is not solely interested in your having a cathartic experience, but insists that you inventory your life and ask yourself whether or not you’re living justly, rightly, with others. That ethical component is not quite as strong in bowling though admittedly, players expect you to play by the rules and keep the score correctly.
Of all the things you give your life over to in a week, there is no place quite like a Holy place and hour in which the goal is to come nakedly (as it were) before the One, the Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer of the world. Think of it: the Source of all love and all that is good and beautiful and right is available to you. The Epistle of James states it this way: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” [James 1:17]. The language of “above” and “down” suggest a First Century cosmology but it’s poetic language that attempts to remind us that God is Good, perfect, and loves us. That is way past the experience of a strike. I hope you’ll come to worship with us this Sunday. Or, as Walter says in The Big Lebowski, “your roll.”
~See You Sunday.