This was years ago, but itâ€™s one of those peculiar memories that randomly resurface, still prompting me to sigh and scratch my head.
I stood in the sanctuary behind the pulpit, jotting reminder notes for the upcoming 8:30am worship celebration. Peggy, the accompanist, softly rehearsed the music sheâ€™d soon play. Somewhere in another building, Wallyâ€”the weekend custodianâ€”was probably arranging chairs in classrooms or emptying trash. It was like most Sunday mornings before the choir arrived to warm-up and the congregation gathered for worship.
Then she walked in.
Never seen her before. Iâ€™d been at the church long enough to know (almost) everyone. On a typical Sunday I could forecast the arrival time and order of the regulars, and also who would show up, like clockwork, right after the prayer of confession was finished. I could even confidently predict whoâ€™d leave before the benediction. Some people donâ€™t wait for the pastor to send them out into the world.
She wandered through a side door, well dressed but not over-dressed, and slowly circled the room. In the simple rectangular sanctuary, her journey didnâ€™t take long.
Was she a visitor, having miscalculated how long it took for the drive to an unfamiliar church? Maybe she planned to meet a friend and had arrived first? Or perhaps she had a flat tire and needed help?
She walked down the center aisle toward me.
I greeted her. â€œGood morning.â€
â€œWhere are your candles?â€
I reacted with a blank stare.
Then, in order to get closer to her, I left my notes on the pulpit and stepped down from the chancel area to the sanctuary floor. With both of us at the same level, I said something brilliant like, â€œCandles?â€
â€œTo light,â€ she said. â€œWhere are your candles?â€ Continue reading →