Dr. Andy Pate
The Orange Leader
"Happy Hour, 11:00 AM Every Sunday," the sign on the church lawn said.
That was almost as good as another similarly placed caveat I saw a few months back, "There are also hypocrites outside the church."
The second sign may be the better one for many ministers. It tells a truth seldom in the minds of non-churchgoers.
But so does the first. These days church worship is far down the list of most desired places to be for many people. And a chief reason is that they think church too boring. It's much more fun to relax before the TV and collect oneself for Monday morning. Hard working people don't deserve to be bored; and I'll be the first to say, "They shouldn't be and never should they be bored in worship."
The fault for the underlying misconceptions lies mainly inside our churches, with "us" not with "them." As our collective hair has whitened or vanished and our bodies expanded as though to make up for empty pew space, we've grown crabby, set in our ways and replaced once healthy grins with frowns and wrinkles. That's not the whole of the truth, of course. We love our faith and deep down revel in the marvelous wonders and unparalleled benefits of Christian fellowship more than we ever have. We just don't show as much our heavenly delights.
As a result, outsiders say, "Churches are boring, and there's nothing but hypocrites in them."
This statement conveys insight, yes. But it also makes me laugh. Imagine me trying to be a real clown in the pulpit. Talk about presenting a false front? That would be one! And I must tell you, there have been many times I've wanted to shout and scream with joy I've been so moved by the music or by some terrific blessing a member has attested to. Did I? No, I just acknowledged, reverently, maybe with a spontaneous smile, but only that.
Heaven's, No! Like our Presbyterian God Parents we Disciples of Christ covet being among the "frozen chosen." I'm sure some of our faith and practice would rather be observed being stopped by a traffic cop than be seen shouting and screaming in worship.
Think about that, friends. Picture in your minds the frozen "de-iced" and breaking free. If the image doesn't enlighten and brighten you, you need to be sure and attend worship on Sunday to experience or recall how church really is. Any Sunday now, in our church, in your church, the Holy Spirt will break through "like a mighty wind," melting the ice, warming every heart, and everyone will have all things in common.
"What a Day of Rejoicing That Will Be!"