There have been more of you recently sitting there in the back pew or along the sparsely populated sides. You look a little nervous, a little uncomfortable. You’re young–maybe in your 30’s, maybe you have a small child or two with you. You’re not sure if this is the right place, but you’re seeking. Something. Maybe you don’t even know what that is yet. Or now that you have children, you need a place for them to learn about God. You’ve passed this lovely old church many times on your way to the farmer’s market or a restaurant and thought to yourself, “Why not give this one a try?”
The people at the door are dressed up but they welcome you warmly. Worship is more formal than what you may be used to or perhaps you’re not used to a church at all. The service starts and ends with a sort of parade with someone carrying a big cross and kids carrying candles and a book covered in gold. There are no screens or electronic instruments, but there is beautiful organ music and a choir that sings well. The service involves a lot of standing up and sitting down and even kneeling. Everyone around you seems to know what to do, and you may feel a little lost at times. But the pastor in the colorful robe is friendly and preaches a wonderful sermon and people shake your hand and ask your name and your children’s names and invite you for coffee and cookies afterwards. You walk up to take communion and watch what everyone else does so you don’t make a fool of yourself at the rail. Many of the attendees are older but there’s a smattering of young families and a teen-aged boy in the choir and something about this place feels ok, if a little intimidating.
Let me tell you something. I was one of you once. I sat here alone in a side pew for the first time 25 years ago when I was at a low point in my life. Although I knew the service, I didn’t know a single soul until a lady named Zoe swept by and invited me to join the choir. My life hasn’t been the same since. These are My People. This is a good place to be. A place to heal, to learn, to become a more whole person. To find a way to better serve God and those around you. Whatever you need, you can find it here. Let this church be as one of our members recently put it, your “Oasis of beauty in a dark and troubling world.”
We are the artisanal denomination, the farm-to-table church. We believe that there is still value in some of the old ways. That gracious and reverent worship using beautiful language and beautiful music is ok. That for one hour a week, we can set aside our constant need for screen time and self-gratification and be still and know that He/She is God. And if my observations are correct, there seems to be an increasing hunger, especially among those of you who are young, for calm, meaningful and yes, liturgical worship. The comfort of a quiet, candlelit sanctuary and the rhythm of familiar prayers temporarily erase all the shouting in the world. There is powerful sustenance in the weekly meal of bread and wine. There is peace and hope and as our wonderful leader has recently been broadcasting from the rooftops, there is love here. For all.
So, to those of you in the back pew who are tiptoeing hesitantly into the waters of worship, keep coming back. I know, all this rigmarole in a church service takes some getting used to (ask my husband) and we may be a tad formal compared to the big suburban churches but give us some time. There is a Zoe, an angel, here for every one of you. Who will help you find what you are seeking. This is a good place to be.