I had the last Sunday off. Pastors don’t get many of these, and this particular Sunday off I was not traveling or far from home. In fact, I was prepping for a five year olds birthday bash so if ever there was a time I needed church it was now. Off I went to my neighborhood church. I sat there, in the pew, no knowing a single person in the room, and smiling like an idiot. I was so dang happy to be in church. The ritual of folks greeting one another while the pianist played some brilliant prelude that probably only 15% of the people really sit and listen to but that 100% of the people would miss if it weren’t there. The service began with an announcement about an event they were having for young families in the community and how people need to sign up and help. Doing something way bigger than what you can do on your own for no other purpose than to be kind and welcoming in your neighborhood. I’m in.
The first song began and I tell you I almost wept (okay, maybe a couple tears slipped out) at the pure joy of being able to be vulnerable and worship the God to whom I have devoted my life to serving. I wasn’t up front, with potential eyes on me, thinking about what I was going to say or do next. I was simply singing and worshiping and receiving the spirit which I have apparently been stiff arming lately. I sat back down and continued to smile like an idiot.
Further in the service I experienced my favorite sound of church. It happens in communities that still use glass communion cups. It is amplified depending on the cathedral vault of the sanctuary ceiling. Well, lucky for me this church had both going for it. We finished drinking of the cup and there was this communal clinking of small cups being placed in wooden circular cut outs. It is the sound of a community which has shared a sacrament. It is the sound of a people being sent out to live into the covenant which Jesus proclaimed. It is a loud communal clinking and it was one my favorite sounds in the whole world.
I walked forth from that worship feeling as if I had experienced something tangible. I walked to the parking lot feeling a new sense of peace. My troubles were not solved, but I did not feel so alone in solving them either. The echo of a community worth of clinking, was still ringing in my ears.
Ah, the sounds of church.