Back by Closing Hymn
By Carol Barnier -
I love going to church. My favorite time is not the singing. Nor is it the time of greeting when we wander about the congregation seeking people with hands to be shaken and peace to be shared, and then once safely back in the pews, quietly put on disinfectant to avoid one of the Holy Plagues.
Nope, my favorite part is . . .
Not just the sermon, which is always good, but my mental meanderings away from the sermon, which delight me just as much.
Here’s how it works.
Pastor: Paul was lowered over the side of the city wall in a basket.
Me: Wow. That must have been some basket. I don’t have a basket anywhere NEAR strong enough for that. Grant you I have one that holds about 50 pounds of onions…which, come to think of it is almost empty…I wonder if Paul ate onions?… I’d better get to the store this week…but I really hate shopping…although they’ve installed that little café mocha dispenser now… I just wish it wasn’t in the refrigerated foods section—waaay too cold…I suppose I could wear my winter coat…I wonder if Paul ever wore a winter coat? What’s winter even like in Jerusalem? I wonder if…wait…what is that sound…I hear music…why is everybody standing…oh…it’s the closing hymn. Time to rise Carol.
I’ve heard there are people who have linear thoughts. Supposedly, these folks start a thought, think about it, and then complete it. They can focus intently on a 90-minute lecture regarding the historical derivatives of the word hermeneutics while never losing their train of thought. They actually have a train. I have more of a hot air balloon. I’m just as interested as getting to my location as the folks on the train, but I’m blown about a wee bit by the wind, meandering here and there, seeing things that weren’t on the agenda, but nonetheless are still quite lovely.
On any given Sunday, my mind will wander off the sermon, just the tiniest bit, and is now thinking about the back of that woman’s head, and why she let her roots grow so long and if the root plants in my garden are ready to be pulled since it looks like snow and I really should stop and pick up a new shovel and … “Carol,”…the pastor says cheerily, “Could you tell us why you believe the Apostle Paul was so quick to judge the church in Ephesus?”
I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with roots. And my other usually safe fallback of always answering “Jesus” wasn’t going to work here either. Man! Where do I get one of those linear thought patterns?
So far I’ve been lucky. My pastor has continued with the traditional model of preaching as a single participant event, not a team sport. That’s good because. . .I’ve never been good at sports. . .although I once thought I’d like gymnastics. . .till I saw that Olympic girl bend herself in half backwards. . .which I’m thinking causes spinal cord damage. She looked like a pretzel. . .we haven’t had pretzels in a long time. . .maybe I should get some next time I’m in. . . <watch the balloon drift away>