During Lent, we offer the sacrament of communion on Wednesday mornings from 7 until 8 a.m. Since United Methodists have an open table, everyone is invited and welcomed to receive. It is a drop in and stay as long as you wish worship experience. There is no formal service, rather a quiet time to reflect and pray.
This Wednesday morning, Rev. Clair Carter and I were the celebrants.
A dozen people came by to receive the sacrament and pray. Clair read a book while we waited, and I was “in my head.” I recommend silence as a great way of starting the day. I have grown to crave silence and stillness. God said, “Be still and know that I am God.”
I was pondering the statement, “Words work as the currency of grace.” It is one of those statements that you can chew on for a while and enjoy the benefits of spiritual food. It was paradoxical to ponder a statement about words, while I sat in silence. God speaks in stillness and silence. He also speaks through others. If you are listening for God, he can be heard.
I discovered something else in the silence.
Church pews are noisy.
We left the door of the sanctuary opened, as an invitation. We had outside air coming in. We turned on the lights in the sanctuary. Some of our lights were purchased at a garage sale at McDonald’s and were formally used to keep French fries warm. If you wondered why choir members fan themselves during worship, they are under “French fry” flood lights too. There was a differential between temperature and humidity at several places in the sanctuary. The wood was responding to the changing environment.
The pews started creaking and popping.
At one point it was so loud, Clair asked, “Is someone sitting in a pew where we can’t see them?” They were not, the sanctuary was empty.
We have a pew worship space and a chair worship space at our church.
This only works if you have pews. On Sunday morning listen to the sounds that your pews make when the folks are standing up or sitting down. We have a couple of pews that have cracked under the stain of Methodists and they sing out on Sunday morning. My pulpit pew moans when I sit down!
The singing pews reminded me to pray for the people who sit in them.
On Wednesday morning, the empty pews singing reminded me to pray for all those families who have lost loved ones. In July, I begin my tenth year as pastor of this church. I have buried several good Methodists. They are missed.
I visualized what the pews would look like 10 years from now. Who would still be there and who would be gone? That thought is a catalyst for some changes that the church will make. Why don’t you give your church the 10-year projection assessment? Some congregations simply won’t exist in ten years. We can do something about that! That was encouragement to get your pew-side into the world and get to work for Jesus.
Whether your church has chairs or pews, your backside needs to fill a space on Sunday morning.