on liturgy

Yesterday we visited a church in the area, the type that enjoins clap offerings and holds at least two alter calls per service. During the first of these alter calls, while the band (older women with microphones and a young guy on drums) repeated the chorus of a five-line song about twenty times, I noticed a hymn book in the back of the chair in front of me. Joyful, joyful. I picked it up and hummed “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” in my head. Suddenly I noticed that an older man was kneeling beside me and had his hand on the arm of my silky-soft pink sweater.

“Excuse me,” he said “but I feel the Lord drawing me to you. I noticed you from across the church, and you’re sitting over here with your head down.”

“I’m reading,” I replied, a bit astounded.

“The hymn book,” he rebuked me gently.

At the risk of sounding defensive, I said: “Yeah, there’s good stuff in here.” I eyed the older ladies to my right and to the front, who were likewise being quiet, who might, even, occasionally, pick up a hymn book by virtue of their upbringing. But then, I’m young, and I’m wearing jeans and a pink sweater. I must like rock music, and, by default, anything passing itself off as such.

The man was telling me that I was too “drawn in” to myself, asked me what was bothering me, what he could pray about. “Uhhh…” I said “I’m new to Sandpoint, and…” and I’m church hunting, pray for a good congregation?

“The wild north, it confuses and scares you,” he informed me.

“Actually,” I said “I’m from Bonners Ferry.”

The man eyed me skeptically. How resistant I was being to the Word Of The Lord. He prayed for me anyway, however. I had trouble making his words out amid the cacophony; something about “this sister having no fear to praise Jesus.” I said thanks, he left, and I re-shelved the hymn book. One wouldn’t want to offend the brethren by being still or meditating on anything that had existed for more than 50 years. This free-love praise segment required intense devotion. Overt expression, or else. God could fit into no other liturgy, unless you, too, aged more than 50 years.

6 thoughts on “on liturgy

  1. I want to laugh and roll my eyes, but I used to be just like your benefactor. It’s too bad. You know he means well. But meaning well isn’t always enough. We really ought to know more about historic Christianity and be less certain that God is speaking to us.

  2. It’s ironic, really, because it seems the purpose of repeating a four-line chorus 20 times is to get you to mean it. But after about 15 or so repititions, the words themselves start to lose their meaning. Purpose defeated.

  3. There is much true spiritual thought in the hymnbook, as well as many good melodies. It’s interesting also how much more the old hymns focus on the Lord rather than self. Very few start with “I”

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