Saturday evening, while the praise team leads worship, two gremlins lurk in the church’s former balcony, computer room that controls the lights, sound, and projectors for the Powerpoint slides. These little gremlins are pretty good about keeping up with the music, very good at transitioning the slides during the preacher’s sermon. They are really quite wonderful.
But during the praise and worship time? The gremlins are in full-swing. Although they listen to the music and change the slides so that the correct words are projected on the wall, they are also doing interpretive dance to the lyrics. They wave their arms. They will raise and lower their hands, depending on the tone, the mood, the words.
It is not uncommon for the praise and worship team’s faces to break into huge grins. They are the only ones who can see the gremlins doing their dance routine, suggesting that these gremlins look like spastic muppets.
These gremlins…they are my children. On Saturday nights, while I try and sing with the praise and worship team, my children are up in the control room, making sure the correct microphones are working. They are pushing all the right buttons for the various Powerpoint presentations including the one for announcements, the one for the music lyrics, and yet another one for the sermon. They ensure that everything runs smoothly.
But because they know that I can see them, they are mirthful sprites when I sing with the other praise and worship team members. I can barely see my children’s faces, given they are hiding behind the computer equipment. But their long white arms, ghostly glowing in the light emitting from the computer monitors, are easily seen. Especially when they sway from side to side. Or when they are jerking up and down.
I try to be serious. I will try to smile during the singing, to try and engage the rest of the congregation. But I have noticed that when I sing and smile at the same time, I look like I’m rather mentally disturbed. I don’t mind being friendly. I mind looking psychotic. And then, a movement will catch my attention and I’ll glance up at the computer room area.
And there they are, my gremlins, flapping their arms.
Today, we were singing a song in which the lyrics were “I want to know you. I want to hear your voice. I want to know you more. I want to touch you. I want to see your face…”
The Boy and the Girl first were flapping their arms. And then their hands were cupping their ears. And then they were reaching out and touching each other’s faces.
I almost started barking out with laughter in front of everyone. I know that I didn’t keep my composure. I just stared at my pasty white children as they flailed around in time to the music.
I don’t think they were quite doing the whole reverent worship that I wanted my children to experience, to show. I think they were much more involved in their wacky interpretive dance that had no sense of humility, concept that maybe…just maybe…we were supposed to be acknowledging the sacredness of God. No, my children were too busy being goofy…in church.
I know that I’m supposed to be angry with them for not respecting the sanctity of church, that they were not being quiet little Puritans all morose and somber and grave. And though I know that I should likely say something to them about their lack of reverence. But the leader of the praise team, Jeanie….she likes it. She likes watching the long, white arms flapping around in the back of the room, up where no one can see except us.
And the man who stands next to me, the man who care barely hold a note and generally starts singing before everyone else? Well, he’s the one who describes my children as muppets.
I could be mad at them. But I’m trying to raise my children to believe that God loves them, no matter what. I could punish them, but would I not also alienate my children against church, possibly cause them to see church as nothing more than a quiet, miserable place where love and compassion doesn’t exist.
I also wonder at God. He has to have a sense of humor. Smiling is too wonderful, laughter too infectious for Him not to enjoy laughter. I keep on thinking about the platypus and can’t help but think that God must have been giggling when he made those animals. He had to be laughing like crazy when I was made. I have always been nothing more than a spectacle, a great source of humor for others.
Next week, at the Easter-eve service, my gremlins will be helping with the service. And I will be singing once more. And if you come in to a tiny church tucked off the main roads, you shouldn’t face the front.
And wait. You’ll see the delirious waving of the gremlin’s arms. Their wild flapping. And I dare you not to laugh. Don’t look at me. I’ll be laughing and you might start too.