My Black Sunday

I've tried to wait a day or so before commenting on this past Sunday's church services. I guess I was hoping to find some silver lining as to why both services were , in spiritual terms, brutal. But I couldn't find any great lessons to be learned or a profound God moment, so here is my "Black Sunday" as best as I can remember it.

Every once in a while I wake up a dread church. Maybe because I'm tired, it's rainy outside, or I know we'll have a low attendance for whatever reason, but most of the time it's just a good old attack by Satan to discourage me before heading off to worship. This Sunday was not one of those times. I woke up feeling very energized. I went through my normal routine of stopping by the store to purchase drinks and ice for church and felt great. I arrived at church with a smile on my face and a "let's go save the world" attitude. The only thing I did differently was I parked next to the building instead of my usual space across the parking lot. Maybe that was my butterfly effect. Maybe the fact that I parked in a different space through everything off for the rest of the day. Or maybe I'm just reaching. Either way, that's when things started to go down hill.

Our band was unable to practice this past week because of a very busy schedule by some of the band members. So they were left with showing up at 8:00am to run through the songs before church. This is always dangerous because if one person is late, it will hold up the bands whole practice/sound check. As "Black Sunday" would have it, some were late. As in 30 min late. So that left the band to try to run through the songs without keep musical instruments or vocals.

While waiting for the band members to show up, Melissa tried to copy the bands music. But as "Black Sunday" again would have it, our copier died.

As our 9:00am services started, it looked like we would escape the clutches of "Black Sunday" if by nothing more then by sheer numbers. The service was pretty full but as I was reminded shortly into it, quantity doesn't always equal quality. I love our early service because of the laid back fun atmosphere that seems to surround it. On "Black Sunday" that atmosphere was in a coma. The band did good considering they didn't really practice but the congregational singing left a lot to be desired. It sounded like everyone was being forced to sing. When that happens, it doesn't lend itself to very exciting worship.

I felt really good about my message for the week. I was starting a series on conjunctions in the bible and what they mean. Specifically "But, And, Or". I thought it would be fun to show the old School House Rock video "Conjunction Junction" as a lead in to the message. It was anything but fun. Both services acted as though I was making them watch "The English Patient". It's the first video I've shown in a long time that bombed. I guess the message went ok at the first service but nothing spectacular. When it was all over, I knew it could only go up from there. Unfortunately "Black Sunday" had other things in mind.

We don't have that large of a church. This year we have been averaging about 75 people a Sunday (25 at 9am and 50 at 10:30am). We had 26 at the early service so I figured that we were in line for a normal attendance day. At the start of the 10:30am service, we had 21 people there. And some of them were in the nursery. Yeah, I'm not good with math but I'd say 1/3 of our church was MIA. So the rock bottom low attendance made the few that were there feel more like a bible study then a worship service. Everyone was so spead out that it literally looked like there were only 2 people on each row. This made for some really great singing. It actually made the earlier service sound like the "Mormon Tabernacle Choir". (Just an illustration. We are not Mormon)

When we finished the last of our song set and everyone started to be seated, that's when "Black Sunday" had it's last laugh. As I made my way up to the front to move the service along, I noticed one of our 8th graders bent over hugging a couple in front of him. Let me stop there and say that this particular 8th grader usually would have his mom and brother with him but his brother choose to sleep in and his mom had to drop him off so that she could go pick up a relative that was being released from a local hospital that morning. Now back to the story...

As I looked at with confusion as to why this 13 year old was hugging this couple I begin to get concerned when I saw the same confusion in their eyes. I called out the boys name and the couple said they thought he had passed out. I ran over and picked him up to see his eyes rolling back in his head. Everyone jumped up to help and within seconds, the student was awake but looking very green. His first words were, "What? I feel sick." The moms in the church rushed him off to a bathroom leaving the rest of us to wonder what would happen next. We stopped and prayed for the student, then the band came back up and played another song or two while I went out to check on him. When I felt confident the student would be ok, I went back in and attempted to do my message. I choose not to dismiss the kids to go to kid's church because I didn't want them to bother the sick student. In all the excitement of the moment, I failed to announce that so during the first 10 min of the message, all I saw and heard was parents and kids discussing if their would be kids church or not. One by one the kids ventured out to see and when they didn't come back, another would go. It was all very comical. By the end of the service there were 10 of us left in the sanctuary. That included the band and me.

The student was ok. We figured it was a classic case of locking your legs and passing out. I wish we had it on video, we'd send it in to AFV and be $10,000 richer for it.

Maybe God allowed "Black Sunday" so remind us, specifically me, that He is in charge. That no matter where I park, what office machine works, who is late, how prepared I am, and who show's up, that ultimately it's His service.

Or maybe it was where I parked.....

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