As an adult, my temptation is to be stiff and rational in my worship while inwardly judging the motives or sincerity of others who don’t worship the same as I do. (I’m great at judging others — it’s kind of a spiritual gift.) One of my brothers recently reminded me of worship times in our old church. The Roso family of six was packed into one pew — parents sitting near the aisle with four well-behaved boys all lined up according to age. When the worship started, Mom hummed along and Dad sang in his best mechanic voice: on key/off key/on rhythm/off rhythm. I struggled following which line we were singing from, sometimes caught singing the chorus when everyone else was . . . not. The Roso Choir: one end of the pew, three of us sounded like an un-tuned Mayan orchestra, and the other end my brothers sang entirely different words while making irreverent farting noises.
One of the very first miracles I ever experienced in church was the “stretching arm miracle.” Monday through Saturday, Dad had short, thick arms, but church is where the miracle happened. When Huey was messing around on the far end of the pew, Dad’s arms miraculously stretched three or four times their natural length so he could reach to smack the head of the offending son. The problem, however, was that when he smacked the back of Huey’s head, all the smaller heads in between knocked together like Dominoes. A lot of heads were smacked just because one child misbehaved in church. Sometimes group worship can be a little painful.
I was very enthusiastic about God when I was a child, so I was often “that kid” who would do anything to be noticed. For example, on Sunday nights when Pastor asked for testimonies I always had something to say. Sometimes he tried to ditch me by asking for more specific testimonies.
Pastor: Anyone who has blue hair and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, please stand up and testify what the Lord has done for you this week.
Me (standing): I thought my goldfish was dead and now he’s alive!
Congregation: Praise God?
Pastor: Thank you, Calvin.
Pastor (next week): I’d like to hear from some of our young mothers tonight. What has God been doing in your life?
Me (jumping up and down): I thought my electric train set was broken last Monday and I prayed about it. Then, when I hooked the wires up correctly, it started working again! And best of all, the next day I sold the train set for ten bucks!
Congregation: Oh my!
Pastor: I give up.
When a friend of mine was first married, he and his wife were so happy together that it made things really awkward for the rest of us. They called each other “precious” and “honey bumpkin” and things like that. They sat unreasonably close to each other and even held hands and such. And they were always smiling and looking into each other’s eyes (gross). No one knew how to act around them . . . When Flipper (not his real name) was alone with the rest of the guys we would, of course, harass him about his actions. But Flipper didn’t care. He was newly in love and his emotions where high. People who are newly in love sometimes act a little goofy — and that’s okay, I guess.
It’s okay to sometimes do goofy things when we are excited about God. It’s like when Peter saw Jesus with Elijah and Moses. Peter was in love with Jesus and so full of excitement all he could blurt out was, “Let’s build tents!” If I was Jesus, I would have rolled my eyes and thought, “Tents? Where did we get this guy?” But instead, I think Jesus might have smiled. (Jesus is always kind like that.). I’ve been going to church for several decades and I want to be more accepting, even when people in love with God do things different than how I would do them. Jesus told us that we needed to be like children to enter heaven, and maybe a child-like, enthusiastic love for God is part of what that means. I’m not sure what that kind of love for God looks like, but I want more of it in my life.
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Calvin G. Roso © January 2014