In another meditation of our monthly bulletin I wrote about church attendance as a gift from God rather than as an onerous duty and obligation. Gathering together as the people of God is an opportunity for us to encourage and support each other. That exhortation was aimed at those whose attendance at worship is sporadic and unfocused. But I fear that another admonition is in order, this one for those of us who attend church more regularly, for we, too, need to examine our motives.

All too many of us go to church to find fault, to catch up on the gossip, and to criticize others. We are not unlike the Pharisees of Jesus’ time who went to the synagogue not to pray, but to watch Jesus “because they wanted a reason to accuse him of doing wrong.” (Luke 6:7). Before we are too harsh in our judgment of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we need to stop and look at ourselves.

I once had worked very hard on a sermon that I hoped would be especially meaningful to those who heard it. After I had finished, many people expressed their appreciation of my effort. But in talking with a parishioner who was a chronic faultfinder and complainer, he proceeded to point out that in my delivery I had mispronounced a single word! When I asked him if he had gotten anything else from the sermon except the mistake, he was forced to admit that he did not even know the topic of the sermon!

No one in church is perfect; not the priest, the chanter, the organist, the ushers, or anyone seated in the pews for that matter. We all make mistakes. A spirit of faultfinding does not edify anyone; it only produces discouragement and strife. More likely than not, those who are always looking to find fault will be successful. But they need to be honest enough to admit that they go to church not to encourage others, or to receive a blessing, they go instead to whisper and criticize, and that will be their only reward.