Just a few minutes before the service was to start, I drove past and kept on going. Not enough cars in the parking lot. Bound to be awkward. But I turned around and went back. If I didn’t actually go, I wouldn’t know what it is like. What’s the worst that could happen?
When I entered the foyer, there were a few kids around a table, maybe a sunday school class or something. I could see chairs in rows in the next room, so I concluded that was the sanctuary. There were no greeters. Just a lady standing there with her toddler, “Melvin, let the lady through.”
I went in and found a chair to sit in. Melvin followed me in and turned the lights off. So I sat in the dark. I could hear voices in the adjoining room, probably the adult sunday school class.
The Big Guy went through the room a few times, stopping to chat with Melvin, Mom-of-Melvin, and some of the other apparent regulars. Eventually he made eye contact, introduced himself, and welcomed me.
When the service started, it became apparent that Captain Big Guy wasn’t really in charge. I don’t know if Major trumps Captain, but at this point Major Big-Guy’s-Wife took over.
The service opened with the Lord’s Prayer. Today they were having more of a song service than normal, and it consisted of traditional hymns sung to recorded music. The words to the hymns and the order of service were on papers that were handed out to each person.
As we proceeded to the second hymn, something was apparently wrong with the sound track that had been prepared for the service. The Big Guy suggested that we proceed with the scripture reading.
I was more than a little shocked when The Major snapped, “No, we’re not doing it that way! That is not the way I planned it! Play the music for the next song!”
After a little marital unbliss, The Big Guy convinced The Major to proceed.
While The Major was reading scripture, Melvin was tossing around a little rubber ball. Apparently this was distracting The Major and she said, “Melvin, you are going to have to stop.”
At this point, Melvin took over the service. Given a little attention, he played right into it and so did The Major.
“Melvin, I’m not putting up with this today!”
“Melvin, can you see that I am not happy?”
And 20 adults in the room tried to corral Melvin who was determined not to be corralled.
Eventually a senior lady put her foot over Melvin’s little ball and stood her ground while Melvin frantically attempted to wrestle back his ball and his control over the situation.
The scriptures were read, the Melvin Show was over, and the music was back on track.
The following 15 minutes of singing old hymns was probably the highlight of the morning. I truly appreciated the simplicity.
The message of the morning was about heaven. It was a compilation of several Christian email-forward type stories pasted together with a couple of scripture verses. Theologically, it wasn’t exactly “Surprised by Hope.”
One final hymn. The benediction was beautiful.
I visited with a few people afterward. They were very nice. My issue with church has never been the people. I love the people of God wherever I encounter them.
I am still struggling to form some conclusions about the morning.
The reasons that I went to this particular church were first, because I wanted something very different from the programmed church experience, and also, I wanted to put myself in a situation with people I wouldn’t normally encounter.
Obviously that was accomplished. I am not sure if those are good enough reasons to return.