Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Other News...

The church was packed again today. Either people are keeping up with New Year's resolutions, church shopping to keep up with new years resolutions, and/or something good and positive is happening in my congregation. I choose to believe that it is a combination of all of those things. That makes me happy.

What doesn't make me happy is that family I've written about before. They used to sit closer to the front of the church, but either they are embarrassed by their children (unlikely, and I'll say why in a moment), or someone up there said something to them. I can't figure out why they come every week, and why they drag their kids every week. Maybe they are just biding time until the youngest gets confirmed (I think that's another couple years. The middle one is being confirmed next year). Regardless, I get the feeling every week that they would rather be somewhere else.

Today, for instance, the mother talked with the son (the oldest) about random things all through the entrance hymn. That really bothered me. It's one thing with the little kids, like the two sitting in front of me (first grade and probably 4 years old). But with a teenager? And the boy was in and out of the pew constantly during the service. Honestly, the girls sitting next to me, who are from a program for kids on the verge of being "troubled youth" are better behaved than this family's kids. And those girls only have the example of their counselor - their family lives are totally screwed up.

The middle girl, who will be confirmed in the next class, was serving as an acolyte today. She did everything she possibly could to draw attention to herself. That bothered me, too. When I was a kid, I would have given my right arm to serve at the altar, and she obviously doesn't want to and is just doing it because it is the easiest "service to the church" she can do for her confirmation requirement.

I know, I know. It isn't fair for me to judge. And I feel incredibly guilty for doing so. But I really, really don't know what to do. It is so hard for me to concentrate on the liturgy with the constant talking, moving, and text messaging going on behind me. I could sit elsewhere, but I like sitting in the back. I'm friends with the counselor from the youth program, and I like talking with those girls before and after services. And I like sitting right next to the choir because it is a little easier for me to find the right key that way (though some of those hymns are in such a high key, I'll never find it).

Part of me wants to say something, because maybe the don't realize how loud they are being, or that I can hear the kids' hitting their cell phone keys when they text their friends. But I don't think that would be a good thing. I don't want to offend them or drive them away, because maybe they are trying to get something out of worship. I don't know.


On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, I have to thank God for smacking me upside the head today.

I went to the grocery store tonight, and there was a guy outside begging. I initially ignored him. There are a lot of people begging in my neighborhood. I never give money, but I usually offer to buy them food. Even as I walked in the store, something in the back of my mind was saying to go ask him if I could buy him dinner. I ignored that something, did my shopping, and left. I ignored him again.

I was driving home when that voice inside my head said, "How can you sing about bearing Christ's name in church in the morning, and ignore one if His suffering children at night?" So I went back to the store, asked the guy if I could buy him some chicken, and when he said yes, I bought him some chicken (it was 8 pieces for $3.99 today, and it's cold enough outside that it'll keep for the night at least), some potato salad, and two bottles of water. It cost me the last few dollars in my checking account, but it was worth it to hear how much he appreciated being treated as human and respected, and it was worth it knowing I did the right thing, especially seeing that the guy was old, and obviously had some mental issues

I didn't write about this to boast to the world at large. I wrote about it to remind myself next time I get all self-involved that there is more going on in the world than my stupid problems. And to remind myself that if I am going to call myself a Christian, I had better do more than just saying I believe in justice for the poor, or saying that I need to reflect the light of Christ into the world. I need to actually do something about it.

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