Sunday, August 21, 2011

Look who's here!

8:15 p.m. Today's project was to sleep in late and attend third service instead of second. If that doesn't sound revolutionary to you, that means you don't know Sunday morning church culture very well!

So let me explain. (I have a disclaimer if the facts don't fit your church, or you only have 2 services like my old First Methodist church in Redlands).

First service, generally the smallest because it begins at 7:45 or 8 :00 a.m., is not as populated by parents of small children, because it's just so hard to get everyone diapered, changed, dressed and fed, teeth brushed and out the door by 7:15 or 7:30. So the most seasoned, dedicated saints fill the pews, not the youngest, generally speaking. If they're a decade or two younger, they may get up at such early hours for commuting all week that being at church by 7:45 is a breeze. Or they have an "out to breakfast" Sunday tradition, relishing a whole day free. Plus, they keep their circadian rhythm intact by not sleeping in! I admire them greatly. For years at Harvest, Steve and I made it out to first service with the kids, but once we both had to get up before 5 a.m. all week long, sometimes 6 days for him, I said, "we have to get some rest one day a week," and he agreed. So much for circadian rhythms!

Second service, which begins nationwide at 9:30, 9:45 or 10 o'clock, is by far the most popular. Tons of families with kids. There is a large number and age range of attendees filling the pews, necessitating what we fondly call the "Calvary Crunch." In such a busy service, Steve and I have gradually shifted up to the second or third row, so we won't have so many distractions as we worship and focus on the message. Our good friends (the ones who don't make it to 1st service, that is) sit up there, too. Feeling well rested, we really enjoy!

Third service is getting more crowded all the time. Lots of teens and young adults attend--I guess because they are still growing, they need their sleep--or they stay up later hanging out with friends than we middle-aged folks do on a Saturday night. One nice thing about being married is that your best friend already lives at your house. And if a grown child or two are at home still, you have a ready made party. Just call Papa John's for delivery!

I did notice, and have heard from the worship leaders, that 3rd service often has larger altar calls, because young people tend to socialize more, they invite their unsaved friends from school and work, and those precious young people go forward to become born-again! One statistic I read years ago says that the vast majority of people who are believers accepted Christ as children or teens. Why? Because they are searching for the meaning of their lives, and are not excessively preoccupied with career, marriage, family and societal concerns like the well-established adults around them. They're more open to making a radical change. And Lord willing, they'll make the radical change to knowing Christ as their Savior and serving Him all their lives!

Jesus said in Mark 10:14,

Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.

With that very unscientific set of observations made, why were we at 3rd service today? Well, because our daughter Heidi and husband Pavel decided they were going to 3rd, so we thought we would too. Which doesn't actually make a lot of sense, because we don't even sit together for whatever reason! With the whole day yesterday at the spa, which I liken to a day out at the beach in the way you feel so relaxed, even drained; and then moving beds and fixing the sprinklers, we were rather done in.

I set my cell phone alarm for 7, like a normal Sunday, so Steve could put out the dogs, then I was planning to luxuriate in bed until 8:30. But I was wide awake, and so was he, so we went about our normal routine. I had to put gas in the car, so we would need to leave early--10:30, my goodness! It felt good, but a little at loose ends, actually having time to kill on our way to church!

We had another reason to touch base with Heidi and Pavel, which was to sign a copy of my Galatians book for a friend, Jason Bryan, whose book they've been hanging onto, planning to give it to me to sign. So they, and Jason, Steve and I, were all there. I was able to write a nice note to this godly young man after the service. I had more fun seeing who I've missed because of being a second service person, and who, like us, normally is a second service person, but didn't make it today! That included our friends Bob and Debbie. It was good to see the ushers for third as well. It's like a whole new world.

One week soon, I'll talk about why we always sit on one side of the church, even entering each week by the same doors! Aren't you glad God loves us with all our quirks and odd habits?

The KJV says of us in Titus 2:14 that God has purified for Himself "a peculiar people!"

Amen and yes, indeed!

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