Friday, February 16, 2007

stand up, sit down, fight-fight-fight

Our church, without consulting me at all, changed the service format to include a 15-minute worship (translation for heathens: singing) portion at the beginning instead of having it at a separate time.

I am not opposed to singing, necessarily, and have no problem worshipping the Lord. But I'm more of a private Christian - it's taken me years to pray in front of the youth group I teach, and even then it's like speed prayer; there is often chuckling when I finish. I love talking about the Bible with my kids, and I even bought a Dave Crowder CD because of a performance at church. However, though I enjoyed listening to that song, I did not sing and dance along to it. Because I don't do that. Believe me, I've been to many concerts in my life - Prince, INXS, Three Dog Night (yes, and it was good), REM, John Mayer - and never did I behave much differently than I would when listening to their music at home. I'm just not that girl. I am not trying to judge 'that girl' at all - she is doing what she feels good about.

My point here (it's coming, wait for it) is that if a church is going to put the singing part into the regular service with the disclaimer that congregants are welcome to come late or hang back while the jamming for Jesus goes on, we latecomers or hangers-back should then be left in peace. Instead, we are cajoled away from the coffee and told to sit because the service is starting - I can respect that because it might be distracting for the musicians to spy people milling around. But then, after getting settled into a seat, we are 'invited' to stand during the music. By 'invited' I mean subtly commanded. Now it is a peer pressure situation, which I've never been keen on for various reasons I will discuss later. The musicians kindly pressuring us to stand up & join in and me physically pressuring Stu to stay sitting and, essentially, not join in. I was grateful that two others near us, who are quite involved in our church, also chose to stay seated so we didn't feel too disobedient. But I did feel obligated to look as delighted and holy as I could to make up for the fact that I wasn't on my feet swaying and singing. I imagined people around us wondering if we were somehow disabled. Or concluding we were just not as Christian as the rest of the group.

But I know for a fact (insert scandalous church story here) that raising hands and closing eyes during a song about Jesus does not make one an exemplary being. So in the end, I stopped looking around and just enjoyed the music, silently praying for the forgiveness of anyone who was judging me and my sitting status. How's that for righteous?