I had a friend once who, when perplexed, would tilt her head to the side. She called it the Benjy head tilt after a little dog in the movies.
I’ve been doing the Benjy Head tilt a lot lately. At the things people say.
And its caused me to wonder exactly what were they expecting when they came to church on Sunday morning.
Exactly what is going through their heads, because it seems we are speaking a different language.
I thought we all prepared for the same thing.
You know, prepare our hearts for an encounter with the living God.
Like in the Old Testament, when the people approached the Temple or Tabernacle as one, and God descended in a cloud and there was lightning and thunder. And maybe, because we are New Testament people, that lightning and thunder begins in our hearts, and even as we worship corporately, a cloud descends upon us individually and we are taken up to behold Him in His glory?
I’m just sayin’. That expectation has Biblical precedence, so I’m not wrong to look for it, too, right?
As we converge on the parking lot surrounding our worship buildings, you see the Body of Christ, right? Taking form after a dispersal, or sending into the world for the week.
Each frail and fallen vessel carrying some spark of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and as we gather, He that is in me reaches out to fellowship with Him that is in you.
And your nerve endings tingle, right, at the approach? You are sensitive to the wind of the Spirit and where He directs you, right? You feel His hands on your face turning your head to look, or you lean your head on his shoulder to look down His arm at where He is pointing.
The quiet one sitting on the edge, unseen.
The hurt radiating like fire from the soul that just told you they were fine.
The sadness behind eyes too bright.
And no one is invisible to you. No one.
The Angry, The fallen, The Fearful, The Pretender, The Hero
The single parent, the grieving child, the sloping shoulders under weights long worn.
And the empty seat. . .
So then you are careful, right, to meet each eye, to smile softly, to touch a hand or an arm, to sit quietly beside someone who is alone, offer to pray, extend an invitation, share a phone number. . .
On, and on, and on. . . each Sunday, without fail, stepping into the River of His Love, and letting the current wash you up against someone new and someone old.
And then when worship begins, it is all about Him. No more whispering or looking about. All eyes on Him. The Only One who can do anything about all of these hurts. And you look for Him, and pray that the offering you bring today is pleasing to Him. And because of all He has done for you, there is no way you are going to sit on your hands and be self-conscious, or Heaven forbid, judge others. You are just going to lay it all out there, because He was the one who was up with you in the middle of the night struggling with pain and fear and death and loss and betrayal. You lay it all out there, and knowing that it is an offering far too small, and you make all kinds of resolutions each Sunday to do the week better, to surrender more and more to Him. To live life His way.
And when you sing the words, you are singing prayers right? And you find yourself singing the words over the days of your week, the lost and forgotten, and each soul brought in your path, and you sing the songs over the people around you and before you, and then you begin to feel Him move, and chains snap, and the heavenlies (for which you’ve been given keys) shift, and you are set free. And the week will be different, just like last week was, because you are here.
And when the sermon is delivered, it comes through a vessel, for whom you have prayed, and you listen, through your spirit for what God has to say to you that day. And you listen with discernment and prepared by your own prayer and study from a life lived in the Word. Right?
And when its over, and you are washed out the door with the tide, you do know it was not about you , right? That He will lean close and record only that which you say about Him. The other. The gossip. The judgment. The jockeying for position or territory, He spews that out , right? And you better not be hanging on to that.
That when it is over, the point is not how well this person or that has done, or who did or did not speak to you, or your own personal success. . .
The point is always, simply and only this. . .
Did God show up? And more importantly did He like what He saw well enough to stay?