Beth and I went to a small church a couple hundred yards from our home this morning. Even though we’ve been in our house for almost 3 years we hadn’t visited and thought it’s about time. It is an old church complete with white wooden siding on the outside and wooden pews along with an altar rail on the inside.
The people who met us were nice and inviting. One woman was “too inviting” as she forced a hug from me, a notorious non-hugger. We settled in our pew and waited for the service to begin. As a one-time pastor of a small church I’ve witnessed what folks do when they spot someone new; descend on them like kids on ice cream. They kept coming, shaking our hands, telling us they were glad we had visited. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the service began and everyone found their seat. I whispered to Beth; “We should’ve arrived late so as not to attract so much attention!”
The service was loose and unorganized. There was no doubt these families had worshipped a long time together and knew each other well. After the singing, prayers, a kids moment, and offering the pastor stood behind a big pulpit and began to preach. As he did a woman stood up who was sitting in the front pew, holding a basket and began to go to everyone and offer them something. When she got to us I noticed it was candy. She offered me a piece, I took it and she moved on making sure everyone had a piece before sitting back down.
I had never experienced a church doing that before. Was it distracting? A bit. Was it necessary? No. Was it nice to have a piece of candy while listening to the preacher? Certainly. It was a fresh way to feel united with a bunch of strangers. It almost made up for the hugger!…almost.