I teach 8th grade confirmation every Wednesday night during the school year. The 8th graders are in the last stages of "learning" faith development as well as deciding whether to continue to have a relationship with their God or stop coming. Of course, it has alot to do with the wishes of their parents too but I tend to give the kids the power when they are at church with me. When it was up to my parents to go to church or do anything to do with God, I was not even going to consider it. I only began to feel a connection when it became my choice.
Anyway, when we start our class, we have a routine of doing "Boo-Yeah-Yaweh's" for the week...what was bad, what was good and if they saw God somewhere in their week. Let's face it, the "boo" and the "yeah" are fairly easy but seeing God in the world....now that is kind of tough if you are not into it. It is even hard for me most of the time....
Last Sunday, my family got up and went to the early service. We walked in just on time, which for us...is while the Pastor is making announcements. My oldest son was picking up his girlfriend on the way, so he was really late. As I sat listening to the opening prayers, and singing the opening hymn, I was thinking of my son and his driving and the ice on the road. I was not thinking at all of God and the request to "quiet our hearts"...no way.
I can't even remember the first reading very well. By that time, my son and his girlfriend had walked in and were safe. In my mind, it was time to concentrate on the service. The Intern and the Pastor read pieces of the gospel and all I really remember is about turning the other cheek and loving your neighbor. The end of the reading talked about being perfect as God is perfect. I thought to myself...how does she preach on this one...perfection...I hate that word. Then Pastor began to preach about how these last weeks were hard to preach on with the eye plucking if your eye causes you to sin, and things like that. I started to tune her out and I didn't hear alot of what she was saying because my mind was wandering alot. I looked around at the folks I go to church with and thought about them and what I think their lives are like. I watched my son next to his girlfriend and thought about them and then how my youngest was writing sermon notes because he had to and how much he hates to do them. I thought of everything else but what was being talked about and least of all...God.
OK I thought Now we sing, we pray and pass the peace...then the offering and then the prayers before communion. Then I can go home and get a few things done. That is where my head was on Sunday. No connection, not even a moment of time when I could listen to the prayers...but then...
Before communion, the Pastor sings a song by herself. That is the normal routine. It is one of my favorite songs and it starts like this..."Come to the table of mercy"...and as she started to sing, another lone voice came from the middle of the 3rd or 4th pew. It was the voice of an old gentleman who has been coming to church in Evergreen for possibly 50 years. He didn't seem aware that he was to listen so he began to sing. And it was a little behind the piano and the pastor and even a little off key. My pastor slowed down and the piano slowed down so he could sing with her. A hush came over the church as they continued..."Prepared with the wine and the bread. All who are hungry and thirsty, come and your soul will be fed." You could have heard a pin drop except for those two voices. Tears sprang to my eyes and I smiled at my sons..."Come at the Lord's invitation, recieve from his nail scarred hand. Eat of the bread of salvation, drink of the blood of the lamb." My pastor and this old gentleman finished the song with perfect timing and he wasn't even aware that he was the only one singing in the congregation. It was beautiful. It was a moment where time stopped and people listened and I swear I felt the presence of God there. The light was brighter, the peace and warmth in the air was as thick as fog. I continued to wipe tears away from my eyes and I looked around at the other folks...they had felt it too. Human connection without words...just feelings, warmth and love.
I didn't really get too much out of the readings, or the chosen hymns and by the time we were preparing for communion, my head was already at home doing chores but then...things happen and it changes your world, your plans and what you thought mattered. For me, it was that God moment, with an older gentleman singing a little slow and off key but letting me know that sometimes gifts are given even when you least expect them.
Can I hear an Amen?
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,