Thinking Out Loud

November 6, 2008

When Church Services Provide a Good Background Motif for Something Else

Filed under: Christianity, Church, worship — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 pm

I had noticed her for many weeks.   A very animated conversationalist.   Long hair that swung back and forth as she made various points to her conversational companion.   I spotted her several weeks in a row.   Talking up a storm.   In church.

I never understood why the ushers didn’t address the problem.   This was a very conservative church and there was no missing her hair and head bobbing back and forth.   Surely the leadership here would DO something.

Then came the week that we ended up sitting directly behind her.   She talked through the call to worship.   She talked through the opening prayer.   She talked through the first half of the opening scripture reading.   It was then with a voice that was reined in so it wouldn’t travel too far, but with a voice that was distinct, clear and firm, I said, “W-i-l-l  y-o-u  p-l-e-a-s-e  b-e  q-u-i-e-t.”

She got the message.   I hoped she would think about whatever might have motivated me to do that.   (Gee, I dunno know; maybe wanting to hear the service?   Maybe something about having respect for the reading of the Word of God?)   Instead, the service ended, and her son-in-law, who was sitting two seats over, stood up, turned around slowly towards me in all his massive 260 lb. frame, and informed me that if I ever did something like that again he would take care of me out in the parking lot.   Or something like that.

We left that church shortly after.   Not because of her, or him, but because the ushers, deacons and other leaders were gutless to deal with her.   It took me to do it.

text_message_girlSo last week my youngest son returned home from church with the news that a girl in the youth group who was sitting a row behind him was text messaging throughout the entire sermon.   This girl — and I write this knowing full well that I have local readers — is part of a family infected with the same germ as the woman with the bobbing hair.   I’ve seen them conversing in a manner so animated that it was distracting to me on the farthest part of the other side of a very wide auditorium.

I like that we can dress casually for church.   I like that we sing contemporary songs.   I like that we show cuts from popular movies.  I like that we laugh and are transparent about our lives.  But…

I miss reverence.   I miss solemnity.   I miss the awe with which should approach that part of our week where we enter into the transcendency of bringing our worship before a holy God.  I miss people treating that part of the week as something special.

If I had been sitting anywhere near this girl, I don’t know exactly what I might have done, but it wouldn’t have been pleasant.   Then again, I might have simply stepped out of the service for a few minutes.

To make a whip out of cords.

1 Comment »

  1. Haha. I feel your frustration. It is hard to know if I’m just being self-righteous with my irritation… How do you deal with this lovingly? Certainly, I don’t think your comment was at all rude!

    Comment by Phoebe — November 9, 2008 @ 1:05 am

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