I would be lying if I told you that I was completely comfortable when this first happened. The other Sunday we invited our community friends along with our congregation to join together for worship, which was then followed by a Carolina Panther Football watch party in our Fellowship Hall. We had a bus picking up our folks at the Interactive Resource Center and the City Center Park and bringing them to church. Everyone was coming into the sanctuary and getting settled for worship. As the service began, the last group came in and one man with his backpack decided not to sit in the pew. For his own comfort he chose to lay prostrate on the floor with his head up against a column in the front of the Sanctuary.
My first thought was this is not how we sit in church – does he not know church etiquette? Come on, even if you are tired, even if you are bored, one must still sit upright in the pew. I know the pews are made of wood and are not plush, nor comfortable, but there is still the expectation that one must sit upright in worship. We do often bend those rules for cute small children; it is really difficult for some of them to sit this still and upright for extended periods of time.
And as I sat there missing most of worship because my mind was focused on the man lying on the floor, God nudged me to then see this man the way God sees him. God did not see him the way I saw him, God did not get aggravated in the ways I was aggravated and I was reminded that God calls him “Beloved.” Are there things in this world that we see as black and white, right or wrong, or sacred or profane? I was guilty of being judgmental.
I was then reminded of God’s grace and to look for the beauty in the moment. Bible stories came rushing to my mind of Paul preaching so long that a young man propped up in the window falls out and dies because he fell asleep or the time that Jesus teaches so long that people sit and break bread and fishes together. I cannot find in the Bible where people sat in pews in the early church.
Then one last thought came to mind, although I come dressed in my Sunday best, sit with the proper posture in the front row, and follow the Order of Worship, it does not mean I have it all together. Honestly, there are days that I wish I could throw my worn out spirit and thirsty soul down front and just let the love of God wash over me.
Thank God for pews and the people who lie on the floor. Thank God that people do not always act in the ways in which we expect. Thank God there are sermons in worship that do not always come from the pulpit. ~Kim Priddy, Minister to Mission and Community Outreach