A Choice Of Seats

I left the stage – it was time for the band to stop – and wondered where to go next. As I was coughing healthily, I decided that a glass of water would be found at my target destination. I left the main hall, fetched the cool soother and turned to re-enter the church. At this point the balcony seating looked particularly inviting – empty enough for me to fetch more water without being noticed but occupied by enough people to know I hadn’t just walked out; rumours of my departure would not be spread wildly. As I walked up the stairs I passed several doors where other groups were taking place.

In the crèche, young babies and their tired and devoted mothers played with their children noisily, safe in the knowledge that their activities would not disturb the main church meeting, while also able to feel part of a community of friends going through the same joys and struggles.

The noise from the older teens could not be held back by closed doors alone, and echoed through the entrance to the balcony. I chose my seat carefully – close enough so I could still hear noise from the room so that as I wrote this I would not forget the reason for writing.

You see, where I sit I can see an entire congregation watching a minister. In silence they watch him as he delivers his three points (very effectively and eloquently, I might add – he is no second rate preacher). In silence they reflect on what is said. In silence they stare forward out of a sense of duty. Afterwards, the quality of the method of delivery should surely be reflected in the quality of discussion taking place around the coffee table, but too often these casual chats turn astray, leaving the carefully crafted sermon in the church. As an adult I am trained, week in and week out, to listen, sit still, disengage and never look at the world around me. Burdens are piled on me from work to keep me so busy I can do no more, change no more, engage no more.

And then there comes my point.

While I sit I can hear the echoes of my teenage life. I hear the passion and hope of a group of people that are so close with each other that they can joke, debate, make noise and actually live out the lessons they learn as they chat, chill and discuss.

There are times I look at these teenagers and wonder where my own passion went. I wonder how I become so conditioned by the world, by work and by behaving, that I accepted church in its current form, that I stopped campaigning and started accommodating.

Is there an alternative to the traditional format on a Sunday morning? I think, rather strangely, that I’d rather be debating, joking and drinking with friends in a local pub. Too many churches cage and tame God through ritual and repetition, and I want to embrace the This is not where I find the living, moving God.

Last year I began a journey of saying yes. It has so far taken me across the country, placed me in positions of authority I had never expected, allowed me to encounter a God that is engaged. I want to continue to engage with my God, with His plans and purpose for this world. I want to focus my life on Him. I want to laugh and engage with others, so that I can sense His presence laughing and engaging with us.

If I sit with Him
He sits with me
If I stand with Him
He stands with me

When I dance the beat
He sets for me
My life sings out
Of love so free

And when I laugh
And feel His joy
And know my sin
He has destroyed

How can I sit
How can I stand
How can I make
My life so bland

So I move with Him
He moves with me
I laugh with Him
He laughs with me

And nothing, nothing
In all this world
Is there that is
Precious to me


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