This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.
- A few years ago, I visited a church. As I walked through the lobby, I was greeted by a sign at the door of the sanctuary which said, “quiet people worshiping.” Just like that… no punctuation in the sign. I was left with two options in interpreting the sign: the first possibility was that no punctuation was needed, because the sign was informing me that what I would encounter when I entered the sanctuary was quiet people; and since it wouldn’t be obvious, the sign also told me that what they would be doing was worshiping. I sort of have a vague idea that worship should be somewhat evident, but perhaps this would not be the case, inside, and the questions as to what was going on might have become so prevalent that a sign was needed to clarify the activities within.
The second possibility was that a punctuation mark had gone rogue and escaped from the sign. In that case, the sign should have read, “Quiet, people worshiping” (if it was a comma); or perhaps, “Quiet! People worshiping.” The possibility of an exclamation point being used to, in essence, shout the word “quiet” at me, was too ironic to ignore and reminds me a little of a story that my uncle used to tell of my parents spending the night with my aunt and uncle when I was a baby. During the night I began to cry, which had not really disturbed anyone outside of my parents’ room. However, when my dad shouted at the top of his voice for me to be quiet before I woke the entire house up… well, you can imagine the results of that. At any rate, I digress. I finally decided that the rogue comma theory was the most likely explanation and so I was left to understand that I must be very, very quiet in my worship, so as not to disturb anyone else who was worshiping. Now, the Bible is full of pictures of the worship that goes on in Heaven. In fact, the book of Revelation, alone, has dozens of verses describing the scene around God’s throne. That worship is described to sound like “the voice of many waters.” Living creatures and angels cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” Immediately thereafter, the twenty-four elders declare that Jesus is “worthy to receive glory, honor, and power.” This is all in chapter four, alone. The next chapter tells of the ones around the throne singing “a new song.” Verse 11 of that same chapter tells about “thousands and millions of angels and elders singing, ‘the Lamb is worthy’” Chapter 5 ends with John saying, “and then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.’” Heaven sounds like a noisy place. It is hard to imagine me clearing my throat as I enter Heaven and everyone stopping and turning to look at me. In fact, I only find one instance of silence in heaven. Chapter eight tells us that when the seventh seal of the scroll was opened, bringing with it a great earthquake on earth, there was silence in Heaven for about half an hour. My intent with this blog is just to have a bit of good-natured fun, and I’m also reasonably sure the intent of the quiet people worshiping sign was not to bring about the opening of the seventh seal of the Great Tribulation. However, I also find myself guilty of sometimes following the traditions of worship with which I am most familiar and comfortable, rather than consulting God’s instructions (I am a man, and it is in our genetic code not to read instructions). I will leave you with the amazing picture of our marriage supper with the Lamb: “Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: ‘Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.’” (Rev. 19:6,7 NLT). Sounds like we had better get our earplugs ready!