A Lively Church

The sanctuary, post-service.

The sanctuary, post-service.

So this was a tricky blog post to write… for a couple days I considered writing about how pissed off I was at the bank, but then nobody likes to listen to somebody else complaining.  Unless one happens to be listening to a certain unnamed group of people play gin rummy (cough my family cough).  Now that’s hilarious.  But after zombies, something lively is in order.  That’s easier said than written… you need to think of something lively, and everything gets dead.

Then the answer hit me… church!  I am a Christian, an ELCA Lutheran to be exact.  Of course, in the high liturgical Protestant, and even in the Catholic traditions, “lively” is not a word used to describe the services.  Admittedly, a great deal of emphasis is placed on children sitting still and being quiet, or being banished to the nursery, except to make a brief appearance to receive a blessing during communion.  In my opinion, banishing the liveliest bunch from the sanctuary is a bad idea, but that’s another blog post.

But picture a Christian church, and the image of a bunch of people sitting, listening to a long-winded worship leader comes to mind.  But it wasn’t always like that.  The early church involved no sitting and a lot of processing.  Catholics still do some of that today.

“We Romans love marching,” a priest I know once said.

And the pew is a Protestant invention… one not especially associated with Martin Luther but with Jean Calvin.  Calvinists/Presbyterians and those denominations that evolved from Puritanism have a  reputation for incredibly long sermons.  Longer than most people could, literally, stand for, hence the addition of the pew.  Sitting became more an more normal, in pretty much all Christian denominations, although there are breaks in it.

We Lutherans have our “calisthenics” of standing up for the order of confession and forgiveness, sitting down, standing up for the gospel, sitting down, getting up again….. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of.  But even that can get monotonous… you don’t even really need to pay attention after a certain point to know when you should be up or down.

It is, perhaps, time for a change.  People don’t have to jump up and down and praise the Lord in a loud voice if they’re not comfortable with that, but a little more noise wouldn’t hurt.  The Lutheran church I currently attend has points in the service where the congregation is encouraged to make noise with the musicians: maracas, little drums, clapping.  I love it.  It creates a more open, relaxed atmosphere, because that’s the atmosphere we should have with our parents, be they human or divine, and it takes away the opportunity for there to be much complaining about the kids who hang around for the whole service.  Who cares if they get a little fussy during the sermon– everyone was being noisy ten minutes ago and will be again during the closing hymn.

Why not go and do likewise?


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