It had been a church service filled with a thought-provoking sermon, buoyant praise music, the joyful giving of our tithes and offerings, and the centrality of the Word. The benediction was given and received and people began moving out of their seats to speak with old friends and new acquaintances. Most of us already began thinking of lunch and Sunday afternoon activities: rest, reading, football, and a few tasks to prepare for the coming week.
But in the second row on the middle aisle a young woman stayed in her seat. With bowed head resting on her hands she remained in place even after the last strains of the postlude faded. Was she ill? Did she have special needs? Should I interrupt? Having learned through trial and error (much error) to heed the Holy Spirit’s nudges, I gently placed my hand on her shoulder and asked, “Can I help you?” She looked up with a smile and said, “Oh, thank you for asking. I’m just thinking about everything I heard this morning.”
Thinking about what she heard???? Who does that immediately after church? It’s time to get on with life, plan for the week, enjoy lunch. Maybe remember a word or two of the sermon Wednesday afternoon when life gets complicated. People might think I have spiritual problems if I stay in my seat when everyone is leaving. Maybe they’ll think I’m sick. Maybe they’ll assume God is convicting me of a great sin and I need to kneel at the altar. Maybe…
Years ago when we visited a German church, we were surprised by—and came to appreciate—that the congregation remained seated during the postlude. Music was important to them, but perhaps their posture is more than an appreciation of music. Could it be a good example of taking a few moments to absorb God’s Word and words?
Absorb: to take in or soak up, to engage the attention. I’m writing these words on a Sunday afternoon, about six hours after hearing a sermon. What words did God speak to me that I absorbed, that engaged my attention to the degree that in twenty-four hours they will be in the forefront of my mind? That will influence my choices and relationships during the week?
Maybe next Sunday I’ll stay in my seat during the postlude. Maybe even longer.