Every weekend, millions of people join the social phenomenon known as “going to church.” I am one of those millions. Each week, I attend church as part of a ritual that was established since I was painting diapers in the infant section of the church nursery. It is in my blood and my psyche.
However, lately I have struggled with it. The problem with church is that it is made up of human beings.
Since I am a human being, it is obvious that I am part of my problem. I have a hard time getting to know people, I am uncomfortable in large group settings without one or two people that I know. Having to decide who to spend time with is a burden to me, not a blessing. So much for being a community.
As a point of contrast with my previous post on ethnic diversity, today I sat next to a gentleman from somewhere in southern Asia (India was my guess). It was one of those situations where there isn’t enough room for a one-seat “cushion” between us. He had to sit right next to me, cozying up to my over-enlarged space bubble. He was one of a few people I couldn’t help but notice. In front of me was a balding mid-lifer, at church by himself. On the other side of the aisle was an elderly woman sitting next to a young hipster with an intentionally random hairstyle. It was a small but attractive picture of diversity, and one of the reasons I love our new church.
Indian guy couldn’t sing worth a lick, grandma was slow to pick up any song written in the past twenty years, and the hipster was probably wishing the acoustics were a little better in the chapel where we meet. But as we sang “Just As I Am… O Lamb of God, I come, I come,” I felt connected because I saw and heard in them the same need for God that I have.
I’ll continue to have a hard time getting to know people, but I am learning lately that if I look closely I will see that I am in common with those sitting next to me each week.
That just might give me the encouragement I need to say, “Hi, my name is…”