Recently I was purging my church files when I came upon an article from the Archives of the Minnesota Synod in 1949. Yes, the year 1949. As I was born in 1956, I am not sure where it came from. Still, I found this article on church etiquette quite uplifting and humorous. I hope you do as well. Expectations for worship have changed a bit in 70 plus years. As we continue worshiping by Zoom, I hope it brings fond thoughts about when we will worship again within our sanctuary this coming year of 2021.
- If possible be on time. You need at least five minutes after coming to get warm or cool, to compose your body and mind and to breathe a prayer before the service begins.
- Never pass up the aisle during prayer or Scripture reading. If you do, your presence will distract the minds of many in the audience.
- Be devout in every attitude. All whispering should be studiously avoided. Find the hymn and sing it if you can. Share the book with your neighbor if necessary. If in a strange church, conform to its customs of worship.
- Of the sermon has begun, take a seat near the door, no matter if you are at home.
- Be thoughtful for the comfort of others. Take the inside of the pews if you are the first to enter, and leave all vacant space at the end to the aisle.
- Speak a bright, cheery word to as many as possible a the close of the service. If you are a stranger, ask one of the ushers to introduce you to the pastor or to some of the church officers. This will always insure you a hearty welcome.
- Never put on your coat, overshoes, or wraps during the closing hymn, and do not make a rush for the door immediately after the benediction is pronounced. There should be no loud talking or jesting after the service is concluded. They are as much out of place at the house of God as at house of mourning.
Wow. How fortunate it is that every church, including Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church, has a different set of guidelines…usually unspoken…but nonetheless present. I trust we do not come across as a house of mourning or stuck in our ways…. although I suspect we will sit in the same chairs each Sunday just as we did prior to the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic. Come to think of it, as we will be offering Zoom services even after we again worship in the sanctuary, some of us will continue sitting in the same chairs at home during worship. It is good to have a sense of humor.
The truth is, we are well balanced…some devoutness and some laughter, some supportive behaviors and some cheerful jesting, we are relaxed, start sort of on time, speak up during worship (sometimes during sermons…which is refreshing), we are welcoming and hospitable…and, yes, at times, we bolt for the ski slopes or hiking trails as soon as we are dismissed…even before hand.
It is good news that we are a people gathered by God, a faithful people. As part of the Body of Christ we express who we are in word and in deed. Even though we often disagree about issues, we respect each other. We love each other. We speak fondly with and of each other before and after each worship service. Let us continue to do so throughout 2021…whether digitally or in person. And let us do as the Psalmist proclaimed, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’”
I look forward to worshiping with you each Sunday.
Have a Happy New Year! Pastor Steve