Routines

This Sunday we move our worship from the sanctuary into the Olive Street Center (our fellowship hall). I was appointed here eight years ago, and my first worship service was in the center. I learned that the congregation moved into the center because it was easier to cool down. Actually, when we moved here and met folks for the first time, we were told two things: “Welcome to the Imperial Valley!” And, “We need to do something about our air conditioning!” I’m sure we all have stories about the hot summers and problems with air conditioning. Well, we came up with a way to finance new air conditioning units (one is a 50 ton unit) and the need to be in the center for summer worship lessened.

But, to be honest, I missed the worship in the center. It was more intimate, more casual, more engaging. I think that happens when we change our routines. We all have them. Routines. Some we admit and some we don’t even know we have until something interferes with it. Here’s an example of the latter.

Years ago a friend of mine was in transition and asked if he could live with me for a while. “Just a couple of week,” he said. Right. “A couple” turned into three months. And that was ok by me.

After I faced the reality of a routine I had that I never realized. And that he interfered with.

By the end of the first week with me I wanted to strangle the guy. I didn’t know why. We were good friends. We got along.

But I wanted to strangle him. (Metaphorically, of course!)

One morning I saw, clearly, what had been the problem. He was an earlier riser than I, and he got to the morning paper before me. And the paper was a total mess after he had read it. Now the morning paper was an important routine (I call it a ritual) for me. I had a certain way of reading it, section by section, always in order, saving the Sports section for last. And the comics. I always read them in a particular order.

I realized my routine was completely destroyed after he had read the paper. Knowing I had a routine gave me the opportunity to accept a change in my behavior. I could make the choice to read the paper in a different way.

For many it is the same with worship. Same routine week after week. Same way of praying. I mean, how many times have you said the Lord’s Prayer and really thought about what you were saying? Think about that.

Or listened to scripture. Especially the passages you’ve heard a thousand times. I read about a study measuring the attention span of congregations during sermons. The average time focused on the sermon? Seven minutes.

Seven non-consecutive minutes.

Think about that. I did. That’s why I preach the same sermon each week. At some point people will say, “Hey, Pastor, we’ve heard that sermon before.” I will then know I can preach my second sermon.

Anyway, we’re moving into the Olive Street Center this Sunday. Five weeks. It’s like an adult VBS (Vacation Bible School). The theme is “The Five Languages of Love,” based on the book. We talk so much about loving God and one another I thought it time to think about the ways we actually express love and experience love. We all have a primary love language. But our love language might be different from someone else’s. Chances are it will be different from others. And knowing how we perceive love from God, and how we love God might be important to understand as well.

Wouldn’t it?