Funny things happen in churches. People do funny things, and sometimes funny things just happen. I’ve been chuckling since yesterday about something that happened in one of our services. Like a lot of churches, we use a projection system during our worship services, and sometimes, something goes wrong. Yesterday, during our early service none of the music lyrics were appearing on the screen at the front of the sanctuary. The good news is that we have a smaller projector and screen in the back that allows anyone on the platform to know what is showing on the large screen behind them. Well, wouldn’t you know it, yesterday, the primary projector wasn’t working properly, but the small one at the back was. There we were, all turned around backward looking at the back of the sanctuary. Those sitting in the back, who like it there because they don’t get a lot of attention, are now suddenly the center of attention. The looks on their faces were priceless as we all stood, faced the opposite direction, and looked at a little screen above the rear balcony. It was backward day at our church.
Once, during the Advent season, we were participating in Communion, and we had a lit Advent wreath on the Communion table with the elements. I was reaching across the table and my jacket sleeve was dangling close to the flame. One of the ushers noticed and got this horrified look on his face as he began to silently, but frantically point at the candle. Once I saw that my sleeve was about to catch on fire, I flinched, jerked my arm back, and elbowed the cross that sits in the center of our table. It started to fall backward, but thanks to my cat-like pastoral reflexes I managed to catch the cross before it hit the floor. Yes, our communion table was too full, and yes, I looked like an idiot. And don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve forgotten to say something, or cut someone off, or skipped an entire segment of the church service.
Goofy things happen. One Sunday, an usher had something large and white sticking to his rear. It looked at first like maybe his shirt tail was hanging out, but then I realized it was a paper plate! Turns out that his daughter had a Sunday School craft that included a paper plate, macaroni, and glue. She set the craft on the pew, he sat on it, and then proceeded to fulfill his ushering duties with the plate stuck to his left cheek. I still chuckle over that one.
One warm spring day we had the windows open in our sanctuary, and a bird flew in. The first few minutes of the service were a bit of a circus as the bird swooped and dived trying to find a way out. You could know where the bird was by watching the worship team’s eyes as they ducked and dodged the desperate bird. Finally, the bird, nearing exhaustion, got a little too close to one of the ceiling fans, and got blown down and landed in the hair of one of the young women in the choir. At last, the bird landed next to woman who was able to catch it and take it outside. Needless to say, the first 30 minutes of the service has lived on in the mind of the church as the funniest day we can remember.
We come together to worship, and we expect there will be some meaningful happening, but often the thing that happens is nothing like what we would expect. We clearly want to be respectful and thoughtful when we come to worship, but sometimes life happens, and things don’t go as planned. And you know what? God laughs. God laughs when projectors don’t work, he laughs when sleeves almost burn, and he really laughs when ushers have paper plates stuck to their butts. Why? Because God takes himself seriously, but he doesn’t take us so seriously. All our efforts, even our best efforts, are always tinted with a hint of imperfection. God is not looking for perfection, he is looking for sincere devotion even when that devotion ends up being kind of goofy.
If God is willing to laugh at our foibles, then why don’t we? Why don’t we live every moment with joy? We take ourselves too seriously because we actually believe that our actions will influence how God views us. Now, I’m not talking about sin, I’m just talking about how we carry ourselves, and how we view ourselves. The Father is very aware of our foibles, but the blood of Christ covers even those. We come together, we worship, we laugh, and we remember that God has a sense of humor too.
In the immortal words of Chuck Swindoll, “Don’t take yourself so seriously, because nobody else does.”
In honor of the day the bird went berserk, I give you the Mississippi Squirrel Revival by Ray Stevens.