I attend a local Methodist church. It has three services every Sunday: 7:30, 9:30 and 18:00. I usually go to either of the last two because if I went to the first one I might run into morning people (shudder).
On my way into church I got caught behind a family gaggle*. I don’t know what it is about me that sends small children tugging nervously at their grandmother’s skirt, but that’s what happened. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried smiling at them.
Lately we’ve been trying to
lure in welcome new congregants. I love it when new people come to our church because it upsets the established seating order and then it’s anyone’s game. I had a whole pew to myself near the heater, until someone slid in late smelling strongly of shoe polish. Unfortunately this pew is right in front of the mother’s room (which ironically contained only a father), which has not been properly soundproofed. So when a toddler tipped something over, my first thought was that the pew was going**. If you love me, I told God, you won’t let the pew break. I call this The Fat Sinner’s Prayer.
The leader of our evangelism team reported back on their efforts. Apparently the two biggest obstacles at this point are 1) that white people mistake them for Jehovah’s Witnesses and 2) that black people mistake them for white people.
Jehovah Witness level: expert.
There have been some changes to the worship team: Luciano Pavarotti has joined. He has a lovely voice, but it booms like the depths of Moria under siege. It took the congregation two songs to recover some of their wits and marshal a watery response to the giant’s thunder. I haven’t had that much fun singing in years because there was absolutely no chance of my reedy wiffle being overheard.
He probably isn’t a stranger to The Fat Sinner’s Prayer, either.
The sermon was about being saved by God’s grace (an old one, but a good one). How our redemption through Christ is unconditional and eternal. How we are accepted, and ought to accept in turn. How we need a relationship with God, church, fellowship, friends, to sustain the knowledge of our salvation and buffer us against worldliness. And you know what? In that back pew I felt sufficed with grace. A while ago I posted a reblog about how we tend to look for perfect churches (now there’s a misnomer). But really I think it’s just about finding an imperfect place that drowns out your own imperfections with love.
Yes? Yes. :)
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*Two grandparents, their children and their children’s children. If you ever wonder why the Israelites spent forty years trekking across a relatively small patch of desert, just look to family gaggles. It’s a time-consuming affair, making sure small children or confused geriatrics don’t wander off into traffic, and that’s not even counting the time fathers spend fussing over secure parking or mothers root through purses, bundles of children attached to their legs like so many ducklings. All of this occurring on the stretch of sidewalk between you and holy ground, of course. For a second, just one second, you sympathise deeply with Jehovah.
And it’s at a church so you can hardly lose your temper. The trick is to spot family gaggles ahead of time and slow down your pace so that your incandescent, unmarried-no-children rage remains a steady two steps behind any stragglers.
**They’re these old, creaky wooden things, stand alone and arranged along the flanks of the room.