Well, that’s a lie. It’s not my church. I’ve only been there once. But it was wonderful. And I will be returning every chance I get. The search is over. Finally.
For the record, I am a human. This is worth articulating because, especially when it comes to churches, I want to be treated like a human and not a farm animal. I don’t need to be herded, nor do I want to follow the herd. That said, as I walked into the building I was greeted and I watched as a woman took my name down on some sort of ledger with a pencil. Remember pencils? While there were no children-specific activities that day, I’m certain H- won’t have to be processed and tagged to take part in them next time.
Quickly finding George, I suggested we move closer to the front than where he had chosen and we did. Next thing you know, he and I are standing wide-eyed amidst the seated congregation at the behest of a young women who read off the names of all the guests. Little H- remained seated until our kind neighbors in the pew in front of us urged her to stand when the young woman asked for any guests whom she may have missed to also stand. H- stood proud.
This next part is probably a little too personal, but this is my blog so I’m writing it. It’s been a while since I’ve had much physical contact with anyone but H-. And she’s in that tight spot where I think she does it because she recognizes this. Anyhow, I’ve been thinking this probably needs to change. Touch is important, they say. Well, during an amazing baby dedication that lasted about ten minutes and crowded seemingly an entire extended family at the front, like thirty people, we were asked to stand and next thing I knew my hand was being touched by the lady next to me. I looked down before moving my hand out of her way and noticed that she was simply reaching out to hold my hand during the dedication thing. It was then that I looked around and quickly noticed that everyone was holding their neighbor’s hand. I joined suit and grabbed H-‘s little hand. Next thing I noticed (George too), H- was placing her limp hand in George’s. At the end, my kind neighbor gave my hand a squeeze before she released it.
Did I mention that the three of us were the most under-dressed folks in the entire building. I measured by layers. I had two. All the other men were at least at two, most at three. Probably half the women had hats on. These people dressed with a purpose. And yet they were naked. Can you understand that?
I thought the roof was going to come off at one point during the worship. Talk about Holy Ghost power. A real piano, an un-amplified small drum set, and an organ accompanied a real, though small and old, choir. Though I’m sure no one could hear us, George and I both sang.
Finally, we came to the Word. And here’s where I discovered what I have been looking for all along in a sermon. A sermon shouldn’t be smug. A sermon shouldn’t cause my mind to distractedly go academic on it. A sermon shouldn’t teach beyond its speaker’s–nor audience’s–intelligence, nor should it dumb down that which cannot be in order to meet the audience. We’re talking about a sermon. A sermon shouldn’t be chocked full of witticisms, nor jokes. The preacher needn’t prove “even though I’m a preacher, I can be funny, see?”, nor should he tell some inside joke that requires his giving a politician’s knowing nod to some poor soul who will undoubtedly feel a little too special for the rest of the afternoon and at the same time causes me to wish it had been me. Most important, I realized that I want a sermon which is a sermon. Not a presentation. Not death by powerpoint. Not a motivational speech. And the sermon that day was none of those things. It was more than those things.
Afterward, we lingered. People lingered. We met the pastor. Oh. And did I mention the service’s total duration was over two and half hours? 10:30 start, when it was over I pulled my phone out and it displayed 1:15. And it did this without filler like Broncos mentions, professional videos with floating words, or hollywood movie clips.
Walking to our cars, George said it best, “Pete. This was by far and away the best church yet.”