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EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE those of us who are planners of worship are reminded of how much our care and attention to detail is predicated upon the mistaken presumption that all systems will be normal. But I think God gets bored with normal.

In her essay An Expedition to the Pole, Annie Dillard writes:

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.

This is from her 1982 book, Teaching a Stone to Talk. The underlining is mine.


Don your crash helmets


While I haven’t, myself, ever seen many straw hats in church, I have noticed how we labor over designs for worshipful encounters intent on creating glorious vehicles of flight only to be truly shocked when some unforeseen development arises. A no-show. Forgotten music. Electricity outage. Child in bathroom when their song starts. You name it.

And what you thought was an impressive craft of design now more closely resembles a haphazard contraption, hurtling down the runway that is Sunday Morning with nuts and bolts falling off. Don your crash helmets.

Today, I noticed a slight audio glitch in the pre-recorded hymn for our live-streamed worship service. No big deal, I thought. But later, I received an emailed apology for the glitch with the subject heading: “Today’s error.” No apology is necessary, I replied. But our thanks is!


An invitation to tea


I am so grateful for my pastor and colleagues, and for church staffs everywhere who are working hard to pull together meaningful services amidst difficult circumstances every week. Whether in-person, or live-streamed, or pre-recorded, or by some hybrid thereof, it is no small feat of accomplishment to assemble God’s praise week in and week out.

Especially when you know in your heart that God loves us unconditionally. And occasionally is apt to blow our services to bits and then invite us to tea if not, as Annie Dillard suggested, to some place from which we can never return.



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