Who said church was boring? When I sit in a service, I am bombarded with a wonderful sensory experience. I think we might get into the drone and monotony of church attendance because we stop paying attention to the details. There are sights and sounds to enjoy, and the amazing stories of grace behind them, with the pain of change and the visibility of a renewed life.
We are in a series of Revival services. The auditorium is filled with people of all ages, from Sunday to tonight. There is a guest speaker on the platform. Along with the booming of his voice over the congregation, I hear other things. Not big distractions. Just sounds of busyness of people in God’s house, trying to pay attention in their own way.
I hear the soft chatter of the 5 yr-old daughter of our music director, about five feet away.She is a surviving twin. Her parents prayed to have children, but when as preemies, her brother lived only a few hours. She used to be really quiet, just looking around and hanging on to her mommy. Now she sings to herself sometimes. So I don’t mind to hear her, really. She fills in the spaces of sound in between the preacher’s catchy one-liners. She is the sound of a miracle.
The lady behind me isn’t saved yet. Her foot has been hurting her but she enjoys church and she’s been coming faithfully. I hear her sigh and shift in her seat. I know she and her husband are separated. I’ve prayed for him to return home, and for the Lord to heal the pain in her foot. Maybe tonight she’ll finally ask Christ into her life. Those are her sounds of adjustment.
In the same row is a younger woman, a mother of two boys. She lives with their father but they’re not married yet. Recently, she and the father decided that they want to do what’s right and get married. She flips through her Bible, turning pages rapidly. The rustling almost sounds like she’s waving a page in the air. I don’t mind it. She’s getting used to the Bible and finding her place during the sermon. That’s the sound of growth.
Next to me is my daughter. I hear the pencil etching busily into the pages. She is taking notes about how to pray. She mentioned her concern for her friends earlier that evening and asked how she could start to witness to them. I don’t look over at her pages. I don’t tell her to slow down her writing because the pencil is loud enough for other people to hear. Let her write. Let her pray. That is the sound of devotion.
I remember a time when I probably made my own noise when I was new to church. Or when I was in the wrong relationship and my phone’s text messages took up most of my attention during service. I remember when I had to fumble through my purse to find my reading glasses, the mints, the pen, the notebook, the compact Bible and all the tinkering that must’ve gone on before I found my rhythm.
I pray that we appreciate those little things that might come off as annoyances. These are the sounds of change. The sounds of a Savior at work in God’s house. I pray that I never tire of the sounds of church.