But there's a moment in almost every church service that I don't really look forward to. Some weeks, I would say it's the moment I dread.
What is it?
That moment, usually after the first song, when someone tells you to greet the people around you before you sit down.
Writing it down, it doesn't sound like something that's a big deal. And compared to so many things in life, it probably isn't a big deal at all.
But, it's a moment when I'm often tempted to just slip out of the service just to avoid the awkwardness I feel doing that.
It's not that I don't want to talk to people, or I want to just ignore the people around me. But, I do find it awkward to just shake hand sand say hi to people I may or may not know. I would much rather take a few minutes for a conversation with someone, than say nothing more than hi to a dozen people in the next minute.
I've always been like this. When I arrive at a party and there's a crowd of people there already, I'm not going to be the one who says hi to everybody. I'll find a couple of people to start a conversation with. Over the course of an evening, I'll talk to more people, but large groups of people can be draining for me, so I'll look for the smaller groups within that through-out the time I'm there.
It may only be a minute or two in church, but that time can be draining for someone like me. With ever person I turn to, I'm draining to social energy I have to spend for the evening. And some weeks, I don't have very much to begin with, so it's really tempting to avoid this time of spending what I have to spend that night.
But, I also don't want to come across as rude to anyone around me, so I'll turn and shake hands with people around me. I'll do my best to engage in this part of the church service as well, but more weeks than not, it's a challenging time for me.
I've had this post sitting as a draft for a few months because I've been trying to figure out a way to wrap it up. A way to bring it to some kind of a conclusion. But, that is proving to be elusive. However much I want a tidy ending to this post, I'm beginning to think there isn't one for this post.
It's not something where I can say "this is what we should do about this." It's something where all I can say is we need grace for each other. I know some people who like this part of a church service. And I know I'm not the only one who could do without it.
So, what do we do?