Friday, March 24, 2006

The Nugget, April 2006

So then let us not fall asleep as others do,
but let us keep awake…
For Christ died for us,
so we may live with him.
(1 Thess. 5)

It has come to my attention that some of you have been sleeping during worship. This surprises me. Not that certain people are actually sleeping in church. That doesn’t surprise me. Sleep happens. I know that. I learned a long time ago not to take it personally. It happens in every church.

What surprises me is the fact that those who were mentioned to me were not the ones I had SEEN sleeping during worship. Yes, I do notice when people nod off. But evidently I don’t ALWAYS notice. Which is to say that some of you have been getting away with dozing off during worship.

I realize there is not a lot I can do about that. I am not about to stop my sermon and ask one of the ushers to go over and thump you on the ear. Nor would I want to suggest that the dozers refrain from coming to worship. That doesn’t make sense. But it does lead me to suggest a couple of points of etiquette associated with sleeping in church that I must share with you.

First, the sleep offenses: One of the more serious offenses often committed by church sleepers is dozing off in such a way that their neighbors are compelled to elbow them in the ribs. This happens if you snore or if your head falls to your chest or if you stay seated when everyone else stands.

Then there are those who commit what I call the “two elbow offence.” This occurs when people on BOTH sides of you have to elbow you in the ribs in order to get you awake. The only thing worse than that is the two elbow offender whose friend in the choir is forced to communicate silently but expressively from across the sanctuary to your neighbor that you must be awakened.

In truth however, none of that is really necessary, if only the sleeper would position himself or herself correctly. And I don’t just mean position yourself behind a tall person like Alan Thode or Charlie Sutter, where you can be somewhat hidden. I am talking about positioning yourself correctly, so that even if you are on the front row, you can sleep undisturbed.

You see, when you sleep in church you must not LOOK like you are asleep. You should look like you are praying, or pondering thoughtfully. It is not that hard. All you really have to do is adopt a pious pose. It need only be pious enough so that there is reasonable doubt in your neighbor’s mind. If you can create that doubt, you should be home free. Who is going to jab the ribs of someone who “appears” to be praying or meditating?

After all, Lent is a time for reflecting and pondering, so if you can adopt this pious pose when you sleep in church, you should be safe. At least for now. With Easter coming however, all the aforementioned advice will have to be re-thought. When Easter comes, my sleepy friends, all bets are off.

Because Easter is a time to be awake, alert to the rising of Christ in our midst. It is a time to be fully aware, attentive to the newness and the life that God creates among us. Paul’s advice will have to be heeded: “Awake sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5.14)

So get your sleeping in church done during these weeks before we celebrate resurrection. Remember, “Friday’s Here, But Sunday’s Coming” – the reflective season of Lent is nearing its end, the celebration of the Easter Sun/Son is drawing near.

Steve Shepard
Interim Pastor