We’re later than we intended to be, but we’re still early. It’s our turn to help set up. The children take chairs from me as I bring out the stacks, then there’s the projector and the microphone, plus I need to run through the music with the others. We won’t have much time, but we never do, and we always manage to pull it off. We joke that if our band had a name, it would be A Wing And A Prayer.
Only a few minutes before we start, and familiar faces are smiling their greetings from across the room. As the hum of conversation grows, I see my children playing with their friends in the aisles between the chairs—are they being too loud? I see a few people slip into a side room to pray before we start. Through another door, I catch the movement of busy preparations in the kitchen, teas and coffees don’t make themselves, and they’ll be needed straightaway after the service.
We’re later than we intended to be, starting the service. A welcome, a reading, and several songs. No one quite gets the melody of the new song, but we like the words. There’s a few amazing voices in the mix, but mostly we just believe what we’re singing and we’ve got nothing in the world if we don’t have Jesus and you can’t teach that in music school. Something went wrong with the computer, though, and it takes longer than it should to get the announcements up. Then one of my favourite parts of all: the open prayer time. The heads go down and there’s a pause, but not for long. Someone is praying, then someone else, pouring out whatever words need to be said, maybe searching and stumbling over them along the way—there are plenty here who learned English as a second language, and others (like me) who don’t naturally think quickly on their feet. I love talking to God myself, but I know I often go around the same circles, and it helps me to pray along with words I didn’t choose.
Now the instruments are set aside, the children have gone to Sunday Club and Crèche, and the Bibles are open. These words are familiar, but something about them strikes me differently. Makes me long for more. Reminds me that my hope and peace and joy and strength are all pouring freely through the promises of my Saviour.
But we don’t leave, not for a long time. There’s too many people to chat to, and I’m talking too much and my tea is getting cold. I don’t know where the children are, but the outside is fenced so I’m not worried. Still, the dinner is waiting, and we’ll see everyone next week.
Except we won’t.
And we haven’t. Not for months now. And I feel it on Sundays the most.