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TeensLooking for the Cure for Sabbathitis
By Rev. James L. Snyder

Something happens to people in the good old summer time that borders on spiritual dysfunction. People who are otherwise good and faithful suddenly develop severe cases of Sabbathitis (delinquency from the house of worship). The symptoms of this dread disease are unlike any other.

For example, it only occurs on Sunday and never lasts more than 24 hours. It can affect people of all ages without regard to race, sex or creed. It is an equal opportunity malady and there does not seem to be any known cure.

Some believe the only remedy for this disease is extensive exposure to the sun. "Thereís healing in them thar rays," is a cry heard from many sufferers. Armed with bathing suits, sunscreen and picnic baskets, they head for the beach in search of relief from their suffering.

From the onset of the first hot ray, these people spend as much time as possible out in the sun. With religious fervor, they devote themselves to this homemade panacea.

The treatment of this affliction has certain side-effects. Some people, however, feel the side effects are well worth the cure. Nobody knows just how effective the cure is for the simple reason nobody has it long enough to afford the proper scientific investigation. And it never affects any area of oneís life except church attendance.

Sabbathitis does not impair a person in his or her social life, nor does it affect his personal performance at work. Victims do, however, walk around in bewildering dazes, like some kind of selective amnesia where they forget only certain things, such as being faithful to the local church. Everything else in oneís life seems completely unaffected, and this is the strange anomaly about this malady.

What suffers are those normal spiritual duties that may be in good balance the rest of the year. Unfortunately, at least for a few months, Sabbathitisí suffers replace worshiping the Son of God by worshiping the sun.

Iím always amazed at how casually some people can approach the church, as though the church is something they can take or leave as it suits them. I will admit some churches may be so boring that one does need a break from them. However, other churches are as fun as a barrel full of church deacons. The thing that makes these churches boring or exciting are the people who worship there. After all, any church is only as good as the people involved in it.

Iíve heard the argument a million times: "Pastor, we can worship God out in nature as well as in church. After all, God is not locked up in a building." This is supposed to appease a semi-guilty conscience.

I find it hard to believe, though, that people are worshiping God out on the golf course despite all the praying done on those links. Some of the language Iíve heard there is far from religious. One man apologized to me for his "French." It didnít sound French to me and I took three years of first year French in high school.

Keeping on par with God on the golf green when you are not in the swing of things is hard. The focus of golf, so Iím told, is not God. If God can help the game, all right. The whole focus is beating your companion and the score is all-important. If God can help me beat my companion, prayer is in order. I am sure praying for God to bless others (especially my opponent) is out of place on those links.

In many peopleís minds, nature, in some way replaces God. Iím not sure just how this happens, but it does not hold water for me. When there is a death in the family, no one calls on nature for comfort. The golf links are far from the minds of those parents who just lost a child.

Rather, the call goes out to the pastor of the local church that once was neglected -- at least during the summer months.

Thereís the story of the little boy heard reciting the twenty-third Psalm in Sunday school.

He was doing fine until he came to the last part of verse four. In confusion he said, "Thy rod and reel comfort me." For some that is merely a Freudian slip.

During the 911 emergency, I did not hear anyone suggest we go and play a round of golf or go down to the lake for some fishing.

But I have heard many people suggest that maybe we should congregate and pray.

If Sabbathitis is afflicting you during the heat of the summer, take heart. Donít give in to it for one Sunday.

Instead remember the admonition of the Bible, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25 KJV).

Donít let the hazy, lazy daze of summer ruin your spiritual life.
James Snyder has been a Christian Pastor for 30 years, during which time he has written six books and hundreds of articles and essays. James currently writes a weekly syndicated religious humor column which can be found at whatafellowship.com. You can write to Rev. James care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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