22 10 2008

Worship, small church-style

23 05 2007

Most Sundays at church have some element of surprise, especially in a small church. But this past Sunday was a little more unusual.

It was both Confirmation Sunday (four students) and a baptism Sunday (three siblings). During the baptisms, there was an outburst from the back row. The man is one of three men who visit Arbor together: two of them live in a group home for developmentally disabled adults, the third is their caretaker. When they first came to our church, it took some adjusting: one of them makes frequent noises ranging from grunts to popping noises. One of them—maybe even the same one, I’m not sure—rocks back and forth as well.

The outburst is louder than the other noises. It’s happened before, but during the Children’s Time. Apparently when he gets really excited or happy, his noises get louder and louder, and the caretaker has to discern when it’s time to leave. Only the man making noises doesn’t want to leave. He’s happy, he’s excited to be there… so while the caretaker stands up to leave, the man screams, “SIT DOWN! SIT DOWN!” But everyone graciously pretended to focus on the baptism while not turning around to see what was going on in back.

Eventually they left, but not until two church members told the caretaker to please return, that he shouldn’t worry about the outbursts.

The confirmands were each supposed to give a one-two minute speech from the pulpit. One of them froze and was crying, before her time to speak. I felt awful for her, knowing first-hand the paralyzing fear that can accompany public speaking. Her father spoke in her place, explaining that he was to blame for her fear of public speaking, because he had told her to picture everyone naked, and now she was traumatized. Everyone laughed. He then went on to read her speech, and he added his own observations about confirmation, how it was a hard course of study, how much the students learned, etc. It was beautiful.

We worshiped. We sang. We baptized. I preached. We confirmed. We cried a bit. We laughed a lot. We met God.

Not so unusual after all.