"A Pentecostal worship service is not for the timid." from The Innocent Man by John Grisham
I saw this sentence yesterday and chuckled a bit inside. No, the book is not humorous in any manner and it's quite difficult to read at times, but this phrase may stay with me the rest of my life! Many years ago, our family was watching the movie, "The Blues Brothers." In the middle of the church scene, (you'll only get this if you've seen the movie) I commented, "Oh, sometimes I miss church from my childhood so much!" Both DJ and JJ turned and looked at me like I was from another planet! Now we know the movie has a light-hearted, perhaps a bit irreverent, portrayal of Pentecostal worship, but honestly, I've been in a few services that weren't too different! Can anyone relate???
I began to think of a few other ways that Pentecostal churches are not for the timid, and realized it may not only be churches of this kind that have these issues......Here we go.....
My friend mentioned her husband had an 'usher' incident on Sunday morning. "An usher incident?" Yes, he had an empty coffee cup with his Bible and the usher confronted him and wanted him to take it out to their car. "But it's empty!" he said. "Coffee cups are not allowed in the Sanctuary. You must take it outside." She said he wanted to tell the usher just where to put the coffee cup, but then bit his tongue.... What would a first-timer think??
Last Christmas I was privileged to be part of a lovely production at our church. I hadn't been too involved with the choral program in a while, so I was still wondering if anyone would sit next to me, would they be nice, would they want to be my friend - all that good stuff we ponder but don't tell anyone. Imagine my thoughts when I reached for the new choral book on the back counter and the music secretary stopped me, "These are only for the cast. You can't have any music!" "But I'd only like to take it home to learn the songs." (The church was repeating a musical they'd done several times.) "Well, here, you can have one of these old copies. The new books are only for the cast!" I shrugged my head as I picked up the well-worn tattered music and walked to my seat.
My friend, the one with the husband's usher incident, laughed when I mentioned this story. Her friend had just been through the same thing at a church a thousand miles away. Taking home music is forbidden, thank you. Jesus loves us and we want to sing His praises, but you cannot take home music. I think I'd happily pay the $6.95 if it would help cover the cost of a book. But then again, who learns how to read music these days - oh, there's a whole new post for a completely different day!!!!
So we shared stories right and left and it is amazing how people treat each other in churches at times. Now don't misunderstand, there are many saints around that far outweigh the nit-pickers, but the only way I think you can survive at times is to laugh at the absurdity! So Stella started telling me about the 'knitting calls' she's received lately.....
She joined a knitting group at her church to benefit from the wisdom of the older women who knit. Sounds like a good thing, eh! The problem arose when Stella realized that knitting was not her God-given gifting. The simple projects began to take far too long and she was not feeling competent. She took the project home to work on and has been struggling with it. Her husband was clearing out the message machine and commented, "We've got five calls from that knitting lady. She wants her yarn back. The church paid for it and if you're not going to use it, well, that's just stealing from God. So make the scarf or bring back the yarn!" Oh, my! Is this mentoring at its prime?!
Yes, John Grisham was speaking of something entirely different. He was referring to the lively music, expressive worship and perhaps even dance (or solely 'choreographed stage movement', thank you, in our circles). But I must agree; Pentecostal worship is not for the timid.