Today was a day of visitors. At our early service there was a young man. The fact that we was young made him stand out for this is our early, traditional-language service and the majority of folk are of an age where they can get a free bus to church, if you get what I mean. (Actually we do have a father who regularly brings his three boys all aged under 10 to this service so that they can go and do sport or whatever families do on Sundays.) But this young man was unfamiliar with our service and our church. I did go to welcome him and asked the usual questions: are you visiting? are you from Falkirk? but he was rather non-committal and clearly didn’t want to talk.
When you have visitors in church you want everything to go well. It is a bit like a school inspection, I guess, and you want to show yourselves off in the best light possible. You never know – they might be sussing you out, looking for a new church. Now, its not that we’re desperate or anything but if I tell you that I’ve done more funerals in Christ Church than baptisms then you’ll know where I’m coming from. They say success in church is not measured by bums on pews but frankly I get to differ. The more we have in our little flock, the better, I say. Of course they will become much more than a bum in the pew as we get to know and love them, but its like any family – we want to share our love with them and just hope they will love us back. That’s why we want everything to go well.
It never does, of course. Something always happens to make me realise that God doesn’t need perfect. God just loves a trier. And the Lord knows I’m trying! So when the sound system decides to make a noise like a jumbo jet taking off and scares the living daylights out of those sitting quietly in prayer just before the service then you know it is going to go downhill from then on. I still don’t know what was wrong with the system and the fail-safe method of switching it off and back on again did nothing to help my own microphone which gave up the ghost. From then on I projected my voice (and I can!) and continued to put my hand to my pocket to stitch the redundant mike off and on when I would normally do so. Funny that.
Before the second service one of my lovely servers managed to re-tune my mike to the correct frequency and all was well. I am still left wondering who on earth removed it from the correct frequency but sometimes its best not to ask. We had more visitors at that service and as a result the readings on the service sheet didn’t quite match up with the ones we heard. This is always good for unsettling people. We had a new hymn which we forgot to announce so didn’t get a play-through first. Mumbling our way through three verses brought us to a rousing rendition by the last verse. (That is about the average for learning a new tune, I’ve learned.) I’d decided to try something which I do about once a year, and go for an imaginative approach to the sermon. You know, a sort of Ignation, imagining-yourself-into-the-story kind of thing. The sort of sermon you definitely wouldn’t preach if you knew you were going to have visitors that day.
Heigh ho. I love having visitors in church and I pray they will find a home with us. I want to say it isn’t always like today, but I fear it usually is. But remember, God loves a trier. And I’m praying none of them was the Mystery Worshipper.