Waking up yesterday was a little rough, but that’s another post for another time. I had an interesting experience at church, once I managed to get myself up and moving. Hit the gas station for caffeine and fuel, toddled off to the gym for some pretense at maintaining my pathetic excuse for a body, and then a nice long interlude of hot water and soap.
After some exercise followed by a shower, I went over to the church a little too early for the service; Sunday School classes were still in progress. As I headed for the foyer, I greeted an older gentleman and his wife with a friendly “Good morning,” only to be gruffly informed that I’d have to wait outside in the lobby while the teaching was going on. (The pastor was doing his class in a corner of the main sanctuary.)
This fellow was someone I didn’t know. I felt pretty confident that the pastor wouldn’t prevent me from stepping inside if I was quiet about it. “I’m sure he won’t mind if I sit down and listen,” I chirped.
“No,” insisted Old Gruff Guy, “They really don’t want people walking in while they’re teaching.”
I chuckled. “That doesn’t sound like him.”
Dude wasn’t backing down though, and held his ground with a dismissive, “That’s how it is.” We were all inside the little foyer now, with the sanctuary doors WIIIIIIIDE open and nothing whatsoever preventing me from walking right in. But, as a testament to my own self-control and God’s strength, I opted to take a seat there in the lobby while smiling (okay, smirking, I admit it) at this wannabe gatekeeper. “Interesting,” I remarked.
His wife quietly urged him to puff himself up even further, reminding him that he’d been “told” to do this. “Oh yeah,” OGG added unnecessarily, “That’s what I was told to tell people. They don’t want anybody walking in during class.”
Still chuckling, I let him have it with both of my most sarcastic barrels: “So you’re the bouncer.” He did not like that, not one bit, nosirree, but still very strong in the conviction of his Rightness he made a feeble rejoinder about not shooting the messenger and “You can ask yourself” before stepping back outside and taking his place to guard the door, a sheaf of bulletins in his hand.
Note: If you’re unfamiliar with Sunday School for adults, it’s fairly common in Protestant-type churches, at least around here. The childish connotations of the phrase bug some people; there are places that call it “Connection Group” or another grownup-sounding name. Generally, they group folks into similar age categories like young married couples, empty-nesters, and seniors. It’s a small gathering prior to the main service where people congregate to do a little Bible study or commentary. At this church, there are a dozen to fifteen people to a group, max.
IT IS NOT an accredited course at freaking Baylor University. It’s a lay person standing at a lectern reading some Scriptural passage or Christian author’s work and doing a light Q&A or discussion. It’s informal, there are no tests, and if you’ve got a bug up your butt about a straggler walking in and sitting down during the last ten or fifteen minutes, you are MISSING THE POINT. Furthermore, if your first instinct upon seeing an unfamiliar face at church is to tell them “YOU CAN’T COME IN, THERE ARE RULES,” you are DOING CHURCH WRONG.
Smiles, Everyone! Smiles!
Anyway. Instead of picking a fight, I sat my smirking ass placidly in a chair for the five minutes that remained of Sunday School. I listened through the WIDE OPEN DOOR until they held a quick prayer and broke up. Strolling inside the sanctuary, I greeted the pastor with an admittedly scornful crack: “I didn’t know you hired a bouncer!” He was befuddled at being told someone refused to let me inside, but I dropped it as quickly as I’d dropped the mic. I grabbed a seat up against the wall near an outlet so I could charge my horrible, crappy, miserable Obamaphone, and was planning to let the matter go without mentioning it again (though I also planned to write a eye-rolly blog post about it).
With about ten minutes still to go before the start of service, another guy approached me where I sat. This was a younger fellow, someone I sort-of know (we’re Facebook friends, which, whatever, he has an adorable dog). He wanted to apologize to me because apparently OGG had misunderstood the instructions he’d allegedly been given. The “rule,” if such it can be called, is that people shouldn’t walk in while the class is PRAYING. My man OGG had evidently gotten nervous and gone to seek validation after he failed to cow me with his authoritah; it turns out snotting off at people in the foyer right before the start of service is not in the best interests of bringing people to Christ. Who knew?
After the service (which was really good, and so relevant to my current issues that I have to believe the timing of my return is a minor miracle itself), I sidled up to the pastor again on my way out to ask a question about something else. Suddenly, OGG clapped me on the shoulder with a meaty hand. “I was wrong!” he proclaimed.
I smiled brightly, fully aware that he was doing this right in front of the pastor on purpose. “Oh?”
“I misunderstood,” blah blah he went on to explain that he had been misinformed or had failed to grasp blah blah it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that he actually admitted it, out loud, which is way more than I ever expected to receive from the kind of person who takes the position of “church usher” so seriously that he thinks he’s Saint Peter guarding the gates of Heaven.
Maintaining a friendly lilt in my voice, I quipped, “I thought that didn’t sound like him!” I assured OGG several times, “It’s all good, we’re good, by the way I’m C,” and held out my hand for shaking. He gave me his name, and we went our separate ways, and that was the end of that. It took a minor effort, but I ignored the fact that he put his hand on me. He hadn’t meant any harm, though if he’d touched me in an effort to keep me out of the sanctuary, this would’ve been a very different story. (I have issues with strange men touching me. Shocking, I know.)
I’m fairly pleased with how this went, overall. Some old dude on a power trip tried to show me who’s boss. I remained mostly respectful while disagreeing mightily with his assertion and approach. Dude got schooled behind the scenes, and actually apologized to my face. I kept a smile the entire time. It remains to be seen if OGG holds up a friendly demeanor towards me forthwith; but that’s on him and not something I should concern myself about.
Seriously, though. This isn’t Catholic church. The goal is to GET PEOPLE INSIDE so they can hear the Word. Don’t do and say things to keep people out, duh. OGG and people like him are lucky I’m already saved.