It is a wry joke in many circles that religion and guilt go together. I would argue that genuine trust in and commitment to Christ don't go with guilt, but the general "religion + guilt" thing might be true, I guess.
Whatever the case, I always feel this low-level guilt if I happen to miss church. I was ill a couple of Sundays last winter and had to skip out on Sunday mornings and even cancel youth group, and I felt like I had to do some kind of penance or something, even though usually there was also an accompanying sense that God was trying to get me to take a break because I wasn't doing a very good job of it on my own. This morning I missed church because I pretty much slid off my driveway while trying to get out of it this morning. So, it's not like I didn't try to go to church. I tried a couple of times, actually. I also tried not to slide down the embankment on one side, the stone wall on the other, or the woodpile at the bottom. I couldn't even walk Oscar this morning it was so icy out. But still I felt guilty, and so I decided I was going to spend some time on a novel I've not been writing about Mary the mother of Jesus, because I'm working on the birth of Christ part right now and that's Christmas-y and a good use of Sunday-morning-not-at-church-time, right? But I ended up on facebook instead, and then I felt guiltier.
I think this guilt thing is even worse because I actually work for a church. So not only do I feel like I'm shirking some kind of spiritual responsibility, but also that I'm skipping out. I spent a large part of the morning worrying about the Sunday school, because I knew two of the teachers weren't going to be there, and at least one of the subs couldn't make it, and I couldn't sub if I wasn't going to be there, and what about the youth group, and we already couldn't do our plan A for the day, which was a trip to Boston, but if I still couldn't get out of my driveway by this evening, could we even do plan B?
I sat cozy and worried on my couch for most of the morning and then 10 a.m. came and went and suddenly church was over and there was no Sunday school to worry about anymore. They either managed or they didn't, but the moment was passed, and likely everyone survived, even without my hovering presence. It dawned on me that, although I helped get a new Sunday school programme going this year, and although I more or less organise it (I say "more or less," because we all know I'm mostly less when it comes to organised), the teachers are the one who teach it, and they're all adults and they could figure out what to do. And although I do believe my church hired me because they needed someone this position, and I actually feel that God orchestrated the matching of me and the church and this job, somehow, it's also good for me to remember that I'm not indispensable. Or . . . good for me to remember that part of the point of my job is to set things up which empower other people to take leadership in the church, and that I don't have to be in control of everything (because anyway, I'm not)--if I'm really doing my job right, people should be able to make things happen (or make the decisions to cancel things, even) whether I'm there or not.
I still feel responsible for being present on a day that's supposed to be a workday. But I guess this can count as one of my sick days. I haven't had one in almost a year, and it'll be 2011 in just a few more days . . .