I am writing soon after Julie and I returned from Sunday worship. It is important that I capture my experience before it is dulled by time.
I wore my pin, in case anyone talked to me. I didn’t need it this time. Entering, I was able to mouth a good morning to the usher as he handed me the bulletin. Exiting, I was able to do the same to the pastor as we shook hands. No one else approached me, and I didn’t see anyone that I know well enough to walk up to them to chat.
As it was the fourth Sunday of the month and Holy Communion was not being served, our order of service was Matins. If you know the service, you might already be onto where I am going with this . . . and seeing the humor.
The service begins:
Pastor: O Lord, open my lips,
People: and my mouth will declare your praise.
And for the first time in my life at the presentation of these words, I just stood there.
And smiled to myself.
Yes, it was weird not to speak with the rest of the congregation. Yes, I wanted to sing out with them in each hymn. And, yes, I mouthed “amen” at every opportunity.
I listened to the choir and the sermon the same as always, but when the congregation spoke and sang I heard something new.
When one is speaking and singing, the other voices are there. Some even stand out. But when one is making noise the sounds of others are largely blended into one big background hum.
I heard a different congregation than I had ever heard in my entire life. One man’s speaking and singing was profoundly beautiful, regularly flowing across the nave and filling me. Another moment, I could concentrate on the female voices, and in another upon the males, and then I could hear the younger ones. All because I was listening and not talking.
While I will be very pleased to resume being vocal in worship, I am pleased to report that the service filled me with the Lord’s grace in Christ just as it does every Sunday. This is the reason we get ourselves into a church building and to sit with our fellow believers. It is to be nourished on the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ—not as much for Him to hear us, but for us to hear Him.
As food for the body strengthens us physically, food for the soul strengthens us spiritually. We need not say a word when the Word made flesh speaks His forgiveness, life, and salvation upon us. We need not say a word to be able to sing praises in our heart for all of His goodness to us.
One more Sunday of this silent treatment faces me. Holy Communion will be offered, so we will be sharing the peace greeting with the folks around our pew. The button will come in handy.
Four days down.
Eight to go.
This is feeling more doable all the time.