Friday, May 16, 2008

Weird Worship

Growing up I went to meeting on the Lord's day in an old meeting hall. The brown linoleum floors had many cracks and wrinkles which provided much food for thought on those long Lord's morning breaking of bread services.

The voice of a woman was not heard in the hall while the meeting sat. The men, on the other hand, had every one of them to be ready at all times to share a word given by the Lord. My grandfather had his three favourite chapters from the scriptures, Gen. 22, Ps.. 22 and Phil. 2. He must have had a thing about two's. I don't know what.

We used to kneel by the wooden two-runged chairs during the long weekday evening prayer meetings . And some of the older young people learned to time the prayers. The longest one was 25 minutes. Oh, Lord, have mercy on our souls.

The occasions of weird worship from those long ago days are these.

In our meeting there was an older woman who was afflicted with a chronic condition of the hiccoughs. She could not control this, and once every ten or fifteen minutes, she would emit a resounding hiccough. And so every Lord's day, the Lord was never worshiped without the voice of a woman joining in.

One weekday evening as we knelt in worship and prayer, the boy who knelt beside his parents in the row behind us got bored and inserted his head between the rungs of the chair. He rotated his head and was then unable to extricate his head from its cage. He shook the chair in panic and had to be gently held and have his head ever so gently rotated back and withdrawn from between the rungs.

My grandfather lived with us in his final days before he died of Alzheimer's. He would often not go to bed before he had gathered his grandchildren in the living room for worship, and had read to us one of his favourite passages from the Bible, and then sent us off to bed. After that, he was sent to bed himself and we would reemerge to carry on with our homework.

A tired father, at the end of a long working day, came home at supper time, and directly took his place at the head of the table where all his children sat waiting for him to bless the meal. He bowed his head and closed his eyes and as if answering the phone, wearily incanted, "Maple Dairy."

A woman bent over the kitchen sink and immersed her hands in the warm suds. She started to wash the dishes then stood in quiet thought and slowly withdrew her hands and dried them on her apron. She reached over to the counter and took a kleenex tissue from a box and carefully spread it out on her head. She returned her focus to the sink and quietly worshiped as she washed.


David Ker said...

This weird worship thing is becoming increasingly wonderful.

Peter Kirk said...

Wow! That last story manages to be both ridiculous and sublime!

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for sharing the weirdness and the worship.

Anonymous said...

noticed your comments Jim Hamilton's blog and on the roll of Women and leadership. I commented as well but since he tends to delete anything he doesn't like (prerogative of the blogger) I figure my comments will be deleted. My disagreement with him was based on cultural not scriptural points of view. For that reason I figure he will delete mine as well. I copied them over to my blog.

Also posted them to your other blog not realizing it was a shared blog, so one of your co-bloggers is shaking there heads about how cyberspace attracts all types :)

Rob in Madrid

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Rob,

I read your post. I had been attending a church for some time which I thought had no problems with women preachers. However, in the last few years I realized that the new minister was deeply opposed to women in spiritual leadership. This began my journey to learning about the new repression of women. I did have to leave that church and find somewhere else to worship.

Jane said...

It's really hard to leave a church for reasons like that.
Well done. I do hope you found somewhere equally satisfying to wroship.
Meanwhile thanks SO much for wierd worship - absolutely fab.
Keep writing sister!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

This is the church of my childhood, half a century ago. These are some of my earliest memories. The brown linoleum floor is long gone.

The church I left last year was a thoroughly modern mainline church, of a large denomination, whose minister believes in complementarianism, that men lead and women nurture.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

PS I have been going now to a church of the same denomination, where no one has ever heard of the fundamental functional differences between men and women that are taught in the comp paradigm.

So, three major churches in my life. First, I was brought up Plymouth Brethren, second, I attended Anglican church, which has now become a complementarian Anglican church, one where women cannot preach, and third, I now attend an Anglican church that has not heard of complementarianism.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful/weird story. Very bittersweet.