Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 13 – Wednesday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’
Would any choristers, or clergy (who can be just as culpable) like to ‘fess up to assorted misdemeanours during divine worship? When Joanna Trollope, and her ancestor Anthony Trollope, chose to wrote about the antics of choir and chapter, vicarage and cathedral close, they had very rich seams from which to mine their tales. Experience tells me that probably not all of these stories were apocryphal.
Some may be a little irritated by such ‘misdemeanours’ but I do not always find myself in that place. Yes, occasionally choristers and servers, priest and congregants, need to have their attention gently drawn back to the business at hand. We learnt, when Mister Bean went to church toffee can become a distraction. But for me there is an appropriate homeliness about half-finished packets of sweets, the odd copy of the Sunday papers, and even ‘unauthorised pets’ secreted amongst the pews of a church.
We remain people ‘on the way’ homeward and we take with us all the habits, foibles, and peccadilloes of those with whom we journey. These only become a challenge when we ourselves are not focussed on worship ourselves. If we were as close to God as we expect others to be then we would never even notice stale chewing gum or whispered asides about the number of the next hymn.
Distractions in worship challenge and call us closer to the One Who Loves us Best. Thérèse of Lisieux writes about the need to be recollected in worship when one of the older nuns in her Carmel persistently (and loudly) grinds her teeth during prayer. I remember once a nun who was so upset about the inability of one of her sisters to keep to time with the other nuns whilst saying the Psalms (a challenge known by many!) that she lost all sense of her own prayer. Ever since, I have endeavoured to add these ‘stray voices’ into deeper prayer. Sadly, it is oh so very tempting to be smug that other people have got worship ‘wrong’ and have to hold back a snigger or a knowing look at others who are more ‘on side’.
We are called to ‘pray as we can and not as we can’t’. If that means our pet needs to be with us, an extra sweetie is required to aid singing (or to ward off boredom in a sermon!) that is fine by me. I would much rather my sisters and brothers in Christ were present with all their annoying tics and habits than they feel they are not welcome and so they do not attend worship at all.
If we can learn to be generous to others, then perhaps they may be generous towards us when we slip into our own habits that aid our own worship but are anathema to them…
Lord, may we live, work, and pray as one body in Christ:
do apart nothing that we cannot do together
and do together that which we cannot do apart.
from Papua New Guinea and The Solomon Islands
- If someone in your church needs sweets to ‘survive’ worship
leave them a packet in their usual seat.
2) Resist the ‘temptation to tut-tut’ next time you are disturbed
in worship by turning the disturbance into a chance to pray for
the one who disturbed you.
Just for a laugh here is a link to a certain Mr Bean episode.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017