Why I Still Go to Church


Because my son's travel soccer team
never painted houses for the poor
over Spring Break in Mexico,
or raked old ladies' leaves
on the other side of town,
but his Sunday School class did.


Physicists tell us
time travel is not possible,
yet on those Sundays
when I make the effort
to dress up and go to church,
I often meet my parents 
in the parking lot 

and it's 1974 or '75 again
when we walk together 
through the heavy doors,
where we hope 
the hymns are not too long
and the preacher
hits one out of the park.

I often went to church with my parents, so it’s not surprising I still think of them when I do so today. My most memorable ‘church years’ were in the mid-1970’s, when my entire family was excited by what was going on at Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, Michigan, and inspired by the leadership of Rev. Dick Rhem who married, buried and counseled three generations of Neelys.

I went my church in Ann Arbor on New Year’s Day, 2023, and the idea behind the very good sermon sprang from the beautiful poetry in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 1-8. The version set forth below is from the King James Version of the Bible.

3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

For the past several weeks – and probably for a few weeks (months?) to come – I have been organizing my poems and contemplating what comes next. Do I publish a book? (I would like to.) Might I secure the services of a literary agent? (There’s probably a better chance I’ll win the Power-Ball Lottery.) Will I be successful in finding a traditional publisher? (Lord, hear my prayer.) Will I go the self-publishing route? (I’m not enthusiastic about that idea yet, but, in the end, you do what you gotta do.) All of this comes at the expense of writing new poems, but that’s ok. To every thing there is a season.

Happy New Year!

(And Happy Birthday on January 9th to me, Mickey Gross –
the fastest runner at Adrian Elementary School – and Richard Nixon.)

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A New Poem Every Monday
(tho’ sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights to original material reserved

8 thoughts on “Why I Still Go to Church

  1. Thank You, for sharing your story.
    For me, I despised going to mass. We HAD to go to Catechism. Never paid attention, I was starving, it was after school on Mondays. 🙄
    My parents didn’t go to mass. Dad said he “paid his dues” he came from a large Italian family and was done with going to St Gregory’s. Mom wasn’t Catholic. I had to go with Aunt Mary to the 11:30 mass EVERY Sunday. I didn’t pay attention, I just wanted to go home. It was brutal.
    To this day, unlike quite a few people, I do not like an organize religion, but due to certain circumstances I have a spiritual program that works, for me.
    I reading your stories of years past. Write that book!
    Love ya my friend.


  2. I really like both these poems Joe, my favorite though is #23. I wonder, do you actually have 21 other church poems?


    Dave Miller


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