On Sunday our church had its annual “Church In The Park” service. Since we normally meet at two different service times, it’s nice to have everyone altogether.
During the worship time, I couldn’t help but look around and see families and individuals in the unique out-of-doors context. There was one family that I’ve known for years, but their one child seemed troubled during the singing time. Another family that I’ve known a long time is new to this church and it was great to see them entering in wholeheartedly as we we worshiped. I saw a number of people who were by themselves and as this particular service especially caters to families with kids, I made a point to speak to one of them.
I also wondered how the four of us looked to others.
Every picture tells a story; each person is an unfolding story.
“Paul;” some will be thinking, “It was the worship time, and you should have been focused on the attributes of God, his love and majesty, and expressing your thanksgiving and praise to him.”
I guess I allowed myself this different track because of something my wife said to my youngest son earlier in the week about how she is experiencing that time in our weekend services. I asked her to explain:
As an introvert with eclectic music tastes, I find the ‘modern worship’ pool at the churches we attend growing increasingly shallow and, to be honest, uninteresting. As we stand and sit and stand again during the ‘worship time’, I am less and less engaged in the singing, so I look around.
I see a man who I remember going through a dark time several years ago and recall how God brought him through. I see a woman still healing from her surgery, hands raised, eyes closed and a smile on her face. I see a family, faithful attenders, working to stay close to each other despite disappointments and pain. I see a woman trusting God for an answer in the middle of her weakness and anxiety. And the weight, the power, the joy of what God has done in their lives, of what he is continuing to do, hook themselves into my heart.
In looking into those lives I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness, love, healing and hope deeply and irresistibly. In that, and in silence, I worship.
This all got me thinking as well about how some of my fellow-bloggers say they have a tough time coming up with topics; that they never know what to write about.
Look around you.
There are many, many stories. If they are ‘too close to home’ then change up the names, locations and situations, but keep the essence of what you see. If you’re not a good storyteller, then generalize what you feel are the important themes that come to mind. (‘I’ve been thinking lately about…’)
Summing this up, I think the making of a good writer involves (a) being out and about in the real world, and (b) being observant; having one’s eyes open. Even in the middle of worship when everyone else’s eyes are closed.
Photo: Applegate Christian Fellowship in Oregon. They don’t have to go to the park, they have this on their property.