This morning I went to the early service again. It’s still going well. I’m not sure how many we had today, but it’s still doing better than any other time we’ve ever had early morning worship in the summers. How is it different now? Well, the most striking difference is that it’s a totally different style. We use a praise and worship team made up of teenagers instead of someone playing a piano. And we’re in the lounge of the Gym Building instead of in the sanctuary. So new style, new environment, new music, newness all around…but the same God. That’s cool. I’ll talk more about all of that later.
But this morning, I was sitting up front towards the left like I always do running the computer with MediaShout. I operate all the video and what not for the music, scripture, and anything else. I happen to enjoy it. My wife usually sits close by but by the time she got there she had to sit a little further back. But she brought my daughter today. (She’s usually in the nursery). After singing, announcements, singing, greeting, and singing I feel something at my right elbow. I turn and see it’s my daughter. “I want to sit in your lap.” Man, isn’t it great to be loved and wanted. So I grabbed her up and she sat there for a few minutes during the offering and all.
When it was done, I was to go read scripture and then offer the Morning Prayer. I got up and tried to point her back towards her mom. But she wanted to stay with me. I again tried to be a little more insistant, “Go sit with Mom” in hushed tones. I was standing now and she was reaching up for me. I picked her up and handed her to someone on the front row who was reaching for her, and could tell that wasn’t going to work at all. She was getting that look in her face that said, “Dangit, this isn’t what I want and I’m about to let everyone know that this isn’t what I want.” So that lady tried to hand her to someone else who was reaching for her, but me, being her all knowing dad, knew that the only way she was going to calm down was for me or my wife to get her.
She starts to cry a bit and reach for me, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaadeeeeeeeeeeee……….”, and thankfully my wife made it around to get her and take her outside to calm her down. I couldn’t take her because I was about to be in front of the whole service to read from Ephesians and then pray. I can’t do that with a kid in my arms, right? Right?
I got to thinking about it during the sermon. I wish I’d have kept her in my arms, read the scripture, and then prayed. I was caught up in being formal about it (at a supposed contemporary service). “I can’t have a kid in my arms while reading/praying! That’s not…well..that’s not how it’s supposed to be done.” But why would that be wrong? Is it wrong to share scripture or offer prayers to Jesus while holding a child? Heck, even Jesus Himself said that we have to welcome the little kids when Peter and his boys were trying to keep them back. So now I almost feel guilty for upsetting her.
I know that there are church services, but I’m afraid that we sometimes focus too much on the ceremony of it instead of the meat of it. What are we all about? Why be pretentious? I remember reading in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire that it would be very uncomfortable if I were to visit a friends house for dinner, and my friend handed me a “script” or “order of fellowship” and told me, “Blake, at 6:00 we’re going to go out by the patio for some lemonade and chat about our lawns and how we never can seem to get it looking just like we want them to. Then at 6:15 I’ll light the charcole for the grill. While the coals are getting ready, we’ll talk about how our favorite football teams will do in the fall. I’ll put the steaks on at 6:45, and then we’ll be ready to eat at 7:15. Over dinner we’ll talk about parenthood followed by how the mortgage rates are doing.” How boring would that be? Can I not talk about Survivor at any point? What about any other subject, or am I restricted by how he had it layed out?
But sometimes I feel we treat our church services like that. We invite God to be present with us, but then tell Him exactly how we want Him to act/move during the service. All scripted out, every detail with (usually) no room for the Spirit to move us. Do we need a plan, an order of worship? Yes, I think there needs to be a structure. But I think the problem comes in when we get so married/attatched to “the structure” that we forget that God is not a “stiff” God. He wants to change things up now and then. He likes variety, I believe.