Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On the other side of the pew

Christmas Eve found Yo Momma and I in a small Presbyterian church in Lake-town.  We have been there before, for Christmas Eve services. The sanctuary is always beautifully decorated and cozy.  It was a nice service and helped me to usher in Christmas as best I could this year.

Going to this church reminded me of what I love about small churches.  There is a beautiful, awkward, tenderness with small churches, especially when it comes to putting their best foot forward for times when the expected crowd will be filled with unfamiliar faces.

Here's some examples of what I mean:

  • Everyone was handed a bulletin when they entered.  All the hymns were typed into the bulletin, and there were five hymns, along with all the scripture readings, thus the four page bulletin was in 9pt. font.  And we were reading it in a darkened building.  I appreciated that everything was there and we wouldn't need to fumble through the hymnal but...
  • Thankfully, the words to all the songs and the readings and responsive readings were projected on a screen.  I have absolutely no problem with projection systems in sanctuarys.  I prefer to look up when I sing, rather than bury my head in a hymnal or bulletin.  It's much more worshipful to me.  A typo did catch my attention, though, during the responsive reading.  Instead of "And we are stunned"  it read "And we arse stunned".  Having been the one putting the media stuff together, I know how easy it is to make those mistakes...and miss them completely until it's projected on the screen for all to read.  (I smiled with memories of the year that Yo Momma was the church secretary who typed out the words to Silent Night in the bulletin only to find, on Christmas Eve as we were singing if I remember correctly, that she had typed out "Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, ass is bright".)
  • A couple of choir members were honored with lighting the advent candles.  All was going well until the Christ candle was to be lit.  The woman who was so excited to light that candle hadn't been given instructions on using the candle lighter and the wick wasn't far enough out of the candle lighter so as she valiantly tried to light the candle, it just wouldn't catch.  Her friend, beside her, kept trying to help but didn't want to ruin the moment.  Finally as everyone bowed their head for prayer, the problem was solved, the candle was lit and I breathed a sigh of relief for them.
  • The time came for the offering and as the Pastor gave the introduction and started to pray, I heard the lady in the pew behind me whisper urgently to her partner, "Offering time, that's you!"  He scampered up to the front, the offering was taken while a soloist sang and then came more whispering, "What do I do with the offering?  Should I take it up now, should I wait?"  The person was told to take it to the front of the sanctuary but not before they took a few steps, then turned around to double check with the person in the back and before heading up again.
The service was nice.  The Pastor was personable, sincere and humble.  The choir sang well...though, the next time I hear someone complain about the guitar/piano/worship band being too loud, I'm going to tell them that organ's aren't particularly quiet instruments themselves...yesh. The offering was taken without mishap.  We were welcomed when we walked in the door and I left the church service with a smile on my face, more for the comfort of seeing, watching and hearing the familiar, than anything else.  There are moments I miss those days of being up front and doing my best to create an environment where people can meet Jesus in a meaningful way...but sometimes it's nice to be on the other side of the pew, where I can smile to myself, empathize when things go awry and smile and say "Thank you, that was lovely" as I walk out into the cold, dark night.

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