Sunday was our first Sunday in the gym, the first of 33 Sundays we’re worshiping together in the GCR Church gym due to the remodeling work being done in our worship center.
Who’s ready to sign up right now for 34?
It was absolutely fabulous.
Oh, yeah, we were crowded in there – nearly 500 of us crammed together on those plastic chairs. We were sitting in unfamiliar places a little too close to unfamiliar faces. Not much of a buffer zone between seats and rows. Some of us hadn’t had to pick a seat on Sunday morning in decades and it was a bit disorienting. We couldn’t find our spouses, we weren’t sure where the kids were. It took a while for us to get settled in.
But, man, it was wonderful. So wonderful.
When I asked the church to say something to the person next to them, every single person in the room actually had somebody next to them. Nobody ate and drank the communion meal alone. And we were all singing. All of us! Nobody felt like they were singing by themselves. We could hear the people around us because they were right next to us and it encouraged us to sing together. I could see everyone’s faces while I was preaching. I could hear their responses to the Scriptures and the proclamation. I could react to puzzled faces or out-loud questions or tears I could see after a particular video. I was a better preacher Sunday because I was preaching with the congregation and not at the congregation.
The close physical togetherness on Sunday generated some serious energy, a vibe you could actually feel, in the air, on the faces,
Now, I’m not naive to think everyone had the same experience as I did. Not everybody is going to like being that close to so many people. Even those who loved this past Sunday in the gym might grow weary of the inconvenience after weeks 20 or 21.
But God is doing something with us during these 33 Sundays. Our Lord is changing us, transforming us, shaping us more into the image of his Son. He is making us a Holy Spirit community. This time in the gym is forcing us to consider the needs of others more important than our own. As we sit in the middle of the rows instead of on the aisles, as we make room for others, as we sit farther back or closer up than we’re used to, as we compromise and accommodate, we are becoming more like Christ. Yes, God is doing something in us and through us while we’re in the gym and we should pay attention to it. We must be open to it. We need to turn on our radar and tune in our antenna to hear what God is telling us, to see what God is showing us, and to receive what God is giving us during these 33 Sundays.
We’re going to be changed by this temporary arrangement. We’re going to be a different congregation in August. And we should all be really excited about that.
Carrie-Anne and I are meeting with an oncologist here in Houston at 2:00 this afternoon. We anticipate getting answers to our hundreds of questions and deciding on some kind of game plan and time frame going forward. I’ll keep you posted here when I am able.