When I sit in my church (and this is actually true of every time I sit in church), I find myself looking around me in wonder. That’s easy to do in my church because there is a great deal to wonder about – stained glass, beautiful choral music, incense – and every one of these things is a cause for delight, an invitation to participate with all my senses in the worship taking place there. I will never be a connoisseur of these things. I can’t tell one composer from another when I hear the music, but I know that it is beautiful and I know that it is being sung for the purpose of glorifying my God.
I’ve heard it suggested that a number of the (professional) choristers spend large portions of the service texting each other on their smartphones. They are there to sing in many cases and not to “do church,” but this is truly their loss. And I am glad that they are a part of the worship anyway. They offer something, even if they do not know why. And perhaps if they were silent, the very stones would cry out. Hmm, imagine that: the bricks and pews, the windows, the pillars and the beams – singing.
It is so easy to become caught up in petty liturgical annoyances. I have a friend who used to say to me whenever I got too serious about the imperfections of church services (and church-people): “We are all children playing in our Father’s house.” I’ve never forgotten this and I repeat it to myself often when I find myself becoming too grown-up, and too concerned about the wrong things. Let me always be just that: a child playing in my Father’s house.