Before church

Jeremiah 31:1-6

What should people do before worship? Some people arrive up to thirty minutes early. Do we have expectations of what they should be doing when they get there? And as more people trickle in closer to our start time, what should those people all be doing? A lot of them talk. They visit with others.

Does that bother you?

It bothers some Christians. So much so they often want me to do something about it. There’s been the suggestion to put up signs marking the sanctuary a no-talking space. I could, apparently, put a message in the bulletin or make an announcement during worship. Of course, I also have the sermon time at my disposal for these kinds of things.

We should make time to quietly reflect on our walk with God. You should do that at home or anywhere else the opportunity arises. We, as God’s family, should do that together, too. Yes, gather a bunch of Christians together and ask them to be still and listen. Do that at regularly scheduled worship gatherings or in other meetings.

For the most part, though, when we gather on Sundays, we’re going to talk. Sure, I wish more of us would talk more about the goodness of God than the Cowboys game. But I’m not so sure God can’t draw us together through any conversation.

I’ve been reflecting on a word we read in Jeremiah. After so much about judgment, there is a promise of redemption. As part of that promise, merrymakers take their place. When God rebuilds the people, they will join the merrymakers’ dance. What does that look like? I can only imagine the festivity and excitement. Merrymakers aren’t quiet or downcast.

The hopefulness of the merrymakers does not depend upon the occasion or how we’re feeling. Our dance centers on the goodness of God. How can we keep from being merry together!

So, I say, let the people talk before worship. We’re in the presence of God together. It is a blessing God brought us to one another. Catch up with each other. Pray for each other, too, while you’re at it. Read the morning’s Bible passage out loud for each other. Whatever you do, let your hearts be merry!

Stay blessed…john

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