Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are YOU in my PEW???

Psalm 122:1
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord."

We humans are most certainly creatures of habit.  Whether we are gathered at our dining tables, weekly business meetings, and, yes, even at church, we tend to sit in the same place.  And, when we find our comfort zone, we don't want anyone interfering with our space.

Pastor Wallace tells of a time when a neighboring Methodist Church burns to the ground.  A new one is erected on the same site, and Wallace is invited to speak at the dedication.  He can't help but notice an elderly lady standing at the back of the church, counting the pews before she nods satisfactorily and strides up the aisle to the fourth pew on the right.

When he is greeting the members of the congregation at the end of the service, he can't help but ask the woman why she was counting pews.

"My family has always sat in the fourth pew from the back," she states in a no-nonsense tone.

"But," Wallace protests, "this isn't even the same church!"

"No matter," she says, "it's my pew and that's that!"

Wow!  I would not want to be the hapless visitor who dared to plunk herself down in that lady's spot!

Sadly, in another church, Wallace tells us, one woman makes that very mistake . . .

She is sitting by herself in the second pew, perusing the bulletin.

"Excuse me!"  The voice is harsh, authoritarian.

The woman turns to meet the haughty gaze of a dowager with a passel of children and grandchildren in tow.

"You'll have to move.  This is our pew!"

Maintaining her composure, the woman gathers up her purse and Bible, and departs without a word.

As it turns out, she is the wife of the visiting pastor.  The man this church is seriously considering for a permanent position.

A position this pastor will, based on this incident, turn down.

And, I'm left to ponder . . . How many visitors in how many churches have been treated this way?  Ousted instead of welcomed?  All because a pew is more important than a person?

Instead, shouldn't we be rejoicing with this newcomer who decided to enter the house of the Lord?  Gladly, make room for them?  Greet them as we would like to be greeted?

For, how will a seeker come to know the Lord Jesus and His great love for them if we don't demonstrate that love first?
~
How will you greet and treat a visitor at your church next Sunday?

Will you join me in prayer?
Grant us, Father, the grace to love others as Jesus taught us.  May we welcome the visitors always, making room for them on our pew, making room for them in our church family.  Amen.

28 comments:

  1. Good Morning, Martha! ~

    I've never had such an experience at church and it's difficult to imagine someone doing that -- haha! The only space I feel that possessive of is my parking space, but you better not park there ;-)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Linda!
      No, I've never personally had that experience, either, thank goodness! I don't know what I'd do if that actually happened and would certainly never expect that behavior in my church. :)
      And, I hear ya about the parking space!
      Blessings to you!

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  2. Martha, I've seen such behaviour in churches and it makes me very sad. Did you know that about 50 years ago people actually paid for pews and had a plaque on it - in memory of a family member who had passed, but they insisted on sitting in the pews they had paid for!!

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    1. Oh, dear, Corinne, that's such a shame! And, no, I had no idea that people actually paid for memorials on pews, and then claimed them as a "permanent" family place. What kind of Christian message are we sending to others when we behave like this? Makes me sad, too.
      Thanks so much for coming by!
      Blessings to you!

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  3. Can you possibly delete the first comment above me? I ALWAYS leave the second comment in blog posts.

    LOL, just kidding!
    People certainly are creatures of habit.
    It's ridiculous to be so ungracious, especially in church.

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    1. Lol, Jeffrey, and welcome to the blog! Glad to have you on board.
      Yes, it is ridiculous behavior, I agree completely. As I said to Linda, I hope I never witness this in my church.
      Blessings to you!

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  4. Jeffery - HAHA!

    Sadly, like Corinne, I have witnessed this behavior as well, which never-ever makes any sense to me. I think a person should be open to the possibility of something new.. who knows who you might chance upon if your hearts is open.

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Brenda!
      Absolutely, as Christians, we should be open to newcomers and greeting them warmly. Christ was all about loving one another and that is exactly what we need to do, not just at church, but everywhere we go.
      Blessings to you!

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    1. Ouch, indeed, Sandy! :(
      Thanks so much for visiting today!
      Blessings to you!

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  6. It's sad when people treat others that way, marring their experience of church. I've never been asked to move but I remember inviting a friend to a church we had been trying out for a few weeks. I was really surprised and happy she was interested in attending. She brought her young daughter who is friends with mine and are both in the same grade. I remember our daughters were whispering every so often. I realize one is supposed to be quiet in church but children will also be children. An elderly woman in the row in front of us turned around and made some comment, I forgot exactly what..something about that there was daycare for kids who couldn't keep quiet. Well, it was enough for my friend to never want to come back again and visit and for me to wonder what was the point in going myself when I had no choice but to bring y children with me and would only receive glares of disapproval at any wrong move or sound they made.

    Jesus seemed to welcome children and not worry about formality. Too bad more people don't follow his example.

    Great post. :)

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    1. Wow, Jessica, what a powerful story you have shared here. It is heartbreaking when something like this happens, especially when it "turns off" someone who was interested in attending church.
      In contrast, I had a previous minister who welcomed the noises children made because, as he said, it made the church "feel alive". How glorious is that?
      Yes, we should all remember how Jesus treated these little ones and treat each other as God's children.
      Thanks so much for visiting!
      Blessings to you!

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  7. Martha, this is so shallow and ridiculous that it's hard to believe that it happens...but sadly it does. I wonder if Christ were to ask to speak in many of these churches if they would welcome him or turn him away. I'd bet on the latter but I'm somewhat of a cynic when it comes to churches. Interesting subject my dear sister.

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Leah!
      Unfortunately, I think there would be all too many who would reject Jesus were He to speak directly to them. So much of the Gospel and the "message" is watered down today in church. That's one thing I love about Pastor Wallace - he tells it like it is and makes no excuses. :)
      Blessings to you!

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  8. Sadly there are such people who think it is their birthright. I am yet to experience something like this but it is such a selfish act.

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    1. Thanks so much for dropping by, Rimly!
      Yes, it is so selfish and not at all Christian. What a poor example these folks make for others who want to follow Jesus.
      Blessings to you!

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  9. Sadly I also have seen such rude behavior...Lord guard our hearts! We need the grace of God to move us instead of people out of "our" seats.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Jay!
      Yes, Lord guard our hearts, indeed! And, by His grace, we can pray that folks like these will see the error of their ways.
      Blessings to you!

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  10. It is sad that people can behave in such a manner but sadly it is part of human behaviour. We need to guard against it. Have a blessed day,Martha!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nelieta!
      Yes, this type of behavior is absolutely unpalatable. Truly, I don't understand how folks can sit in church, week after week, hearing the Gospel, and then acting in this way.
      May your day be blessed, too, my friend!

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  11. I think we all do this in our day to day lives as well... We compete against each other for "places" in people's hearts too... how can He/she love X Y Zee more than me... I want that importance. What we all tend to forget is it is important to be loved and feel blessed about it. Like the way you mentioned, it is important to pray and feel blessed...for in the eyes of God we are all the same :)

    As always a wonderful post Martha truly an eye opener!

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    1. Thank you so much, Me, for visiting and leaving this wonderful comment!
      Competition, I believe, is healthy to make us always strive to do our best, but we should never use it to put down another's effort or being. We are, indeed, all equally loved in God's eyes.
      Blessings to you!

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  12. I've heard these stories of course. I think the sad fact is that we not only guard our space but our lives in many other ways as well. The loser in this story is not really the visitor who departs never to return, but the individual who sent them away, never to engage them in a relationship and be enriched by that. Whenever we are unwilling to be open to the new, the different, the stranger in our lives we are the one diminished.

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    1. Oh, yes, Lynne - the one who sends away is the loser in the end. The searcher will find a more comforting, welcoming place. I just pray that our Lord would open the closed eyes of those who could be blessings for His kingdom, yet choose to remain in the one of their own making.
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!
      Blessings always, my friend!

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  13. Wow! Seems like we ought to play "musical pews" every now and then, and everyone have to keep new seats! Just kidding, but how foolishly selfish it is to get rooted to "my" pew! And to have no room in one's seat or heart for strangers. Good post.

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Sylvia! Welcome!
      I know . . . it does seem ridiculous when people become so attached to their pew and are unwilling to share. Certainly, not what church is supposed to be about.
      Blessings to you!

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  14. Creatures of habit, indeed! It's so difficult to break such rules esp. on 'old' people... It makes me wonder a lot...hmm...how we could be like ... sometimes...

    I pray with you, may we learn to open our hearts to what is more important in life.

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    1. Oh, we can be such creatures of habit, can't we? It's just so important, though, that we sit back and think about why we do what we do and question if it's relevant or meaningful in a positive way.
      Thank you, Melissa, for praying with me! May our hearts ever be open to the Lord!
      Blessings!

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