By Daniel Schantz
“I . . . am like a sparrow alone on a housetop” (Psalm 102:7).
The city can be a lonely place, and on this Sunday morning you are utterly solo. Your husband is on the road, and the kids are at grandma’s house. You are a worship widow.
The lights in the auditorium dim, and the video screen flashes to life with lovely nature scenes—a yellow field of wheat against a blue sky, and green vineyards heavy with purple clusters of grapes. Then shots of a farmhouse where a grandmother is baking bread, then scenes of children picking grapes from an arbor and lugging the heavy buckets to the house, where they will be made into juice and jelly. You can almost smell the grapes. Finally, the video switches to scenes from the life of Christ—the feeding of the five thousand, the turning of water to wine, the last supper, ending with a shot of Judas reaching for bread.
There is a moment of silence, then the sound of children singing. You swivel your head to see beautiful, sweet children skipping down the aisle, waving white streamers as they go. They circle a large table at the front, which has been set with loaves of unleaved bread and little white cups of juice. The children stand behind the table and sing, “Come . . . now is the time to worship. . . .”
Row-by-row, members stand up and move forward to the table, where they break off pieces of the bread to eat, and lift the cups of juice to their lips. They meditate for a moment, then move to the side, forming a circle around the auditorium, all of them holding hands and singing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me . . . ”
On their way back to their seats, members stop to chat and embrace. Suddenly a familiar face appears, an old friend, just passing through town. She hugs you. “May I sit with you,” she begs, and you nod, happy to have some company for the rest of the service.
The rest of the service is a blur. Like naughty schoolgirls, the two of you whisper your reactions to the sermon, and sometimes stifle a laugh. Your loneliness vanishes like a bad dream, and during the closing prayer you find yourself overflowing with thanksgiving. “Lord, thank you for your amazing grace that understands my loneliness, and thank you for bringing us all together in this place.”
Daniel D. Schantz is professor emeritus with Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri.