Considering my history with the church, some of you may be wondering why I still put up with it every week. Honestly, I don't always know myself, but I thought I could at least try to tell you.
First off, I don't go because I have to. Many people inside and outside the church believe that it's sinful to skip church. While the attitudes that lead one to skip church may be sinful, the skipping itself really isn't. Consider the basis for the belief. The main proof texts are The Third Commandment ("Remember the Sabbath...", Deut. 5:12-15), and some passages from the Epistles (ex. Heb. 10:25, "Let us not give up meeting...").
This is the same line of reasoning that produces that "shellfish" argument I hate so much.
The first one at least would seem like an ironclad requirement for church attendance. That is, until it is interpreted along with the second. The better part of Hebrews 10 is spent explaining how the Sabbath and other rituals were not sufficient restitution for man's wrongs and should not be counted on for power beyond themselves. Luther reinforces this view in his Large Catechism, stating "As regards this external observance, this commandment was given to the Jews alone..." Most Christians at least tacitly acknowledge this when they come to church on Sunday instead of Saturday, when the Sabbath was actually instituted.
If anything, the epistle verses are always focusing on the supposed benefits of church rather than the act of church itself. These include community support, mutual education, and unified praise of God. But, what happens when these benefits don't materialize? Would such an assembly really be encouraged by the Bible? It's actually very common.
The praise, for one, is practically always lacking. It's not like we can expect to impress God with our poetry or musical prowess, but we should be working a lot harder to at least make an impression on each other. Seriously, what is the point of making people with no musical training, half of whom are half deaf, sing four-part harmony to an instrument played by someone trained for only half as many keyboards? The modern music is a little better, having made its way out of the seventies and into the nineties, but could still stand some serious improvement. I won't go so far as to say the music at every service I've ever been to has sucked goats, but I will say that most places simply can't list it as a selling point.
My level of awkwardness in church.
And those of you know have known me for a long time know that I haven't picked up a single long term friend from any church I've been at. For whatever reason, I am simply not wired for fellowship. Sometimes I even come intentionally late so I won't have to do that weird hand-shaking thing where I have to smile and nod at the guy next to me while pretending I didn't forget his name for the tenth time this year. I'm sure plenty of people are capable of socializing in this situation, but I am not one of them.
Strangely enough, though, the people are a big reason I come to church. Sure, I'm completely impaired in dealing with them and I don't like most of them once I get to know them, but without them it'd be so easy to just shut out the world entirely, to forget that the world is full of people with hopes and fears and dreams completely foreign yet completely legitimate. The thing is, we all form our own churches, whether we go to one or not. Seal yourself in, and it's not long before your thoughts become your dogma and every stranger your heretic. For me at least, spending time with a group that simultaneously embodies my beliefs and rubs me all kinds of wrong is a great way to keep me anchored to reality.
Is there another way for me to go about getting this anchoring? Probably, but it wouldn't have sacraments. Unlike church attendance, which is enjoined for the actions it produces rather than the act itself, sacraments are commanded by God and directly invested with his power, making them that much more essential to Christian life and that much harder to screw up. That's the best part, really. Since they depend on the power of God and not any kind of clap-for-Tinkerbell mojo we will into them, they are by definition virtually impossible to flummox, at least in the way we bonerize fellowship or praise music. In a way, bad services are almost better than good ones, because they'e that much more a reminder that even though we're not worthy of it, God still saw fit to come down and be with us, in his son Jesus and in the gift of his sacraments. That's something you just can't get anywhere else, and for me, enough reason to keep coming to church no matter what else happens to it.
In conclusion, sacraments are awesome.