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Monday Musing – Seats and Stories

The blessing[1] of being an extrovert is the tendency to verbally process. A few weeks ago in worship after the Laos team shared a slideshow of their experiences, I stood and reminded us all, off the cuff, that a picture is just a snapshot and that behind every picture is a story… a relationship… a setting. As I sat through the slideshow during the second service, I began to think about the relationships, the laughter, the stories, the memories of those photos.

And as I scrolled through my social media feed, there was a still shot of our worship service as captured on the live feed. What I saw were rows of chairs, sparsely populated, toward the front right[2] of the sanctuary.

If someone was scrolling, like I was, who did not know the story of Linworth, what would that snapshot have said to them? I don’t remember the church being empty (because it wasn’t), but everyone was seated out of the view of the livestream cameras. The snapshot does not give a glimpse of the vitality of our congregation, the welcome that many of you have shared as the entry point into your membership, the warmth shared in the passing of the peace, the richness of shared melody, or the hum of unison prayer.

Not only for the ways that those on the livestream see us, I wonder how we would be strengthened in our community if we moved forward in our sanctuary, choosing to sit together. Sure, sitting in close proximity may not always be comfortable. You certainly wouldn’t want to make eye contact with the preacher!! You may be closer to a squirmy kiddo than you are accustomed. You’re brave enough to leave the seat that you’ve known for the last two decades.

As I was talking about the seemingly empty seats in the front with a staff member, we immediately geeked out about a sociological concept coined by Émile Durkheim. The concept of collective effervescence states that a community can come together to communicate the same thought or participate in the same action.

I wonder how God’s Spirit may be felt differently with a change in our seating. A simple shift forward may propel not only the collective posture of the space but could draw us together in ways we cannot yet understand. The individuals gathered for worship could become a worshiping body, participating the same action of praise and thanksgiving to God, the collective effervescence coalescing us into the Body of Christ gathered at Linworth UMC.

So be brave. Move up. Scooch in. Rub elbows. And most importantly be energized by our worship to go out into the world as a servant of God’s grace.

 

 

[1] I know that not everyone thinks that verbal processing is a blessing. I can handle it. I talk too much sometimes.

[2] Stage right. Once a theatre nerd, always a theatre nerd…

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