It had been a while since I last went to church. I can’t pinpoint a particular reason except being in a spiritually dry season. Praying, worshiping, and reading the Bible all felt more like going through the motions than life-giving practices of spiritual nourishment. All seemed meaningless and contrived. Yet, deep inside, I still longed for the times when I connected with God through singing, listening, and greeting others in community. I desperately wanted to go back to that, but reality told me I was somewhere else.
In every transition, there is loss, and for every loss, there is grieving.
One Sunday, I went to church again. This time, things were different. The singing of ordinary worship songs, the awkward reading of an ancient text, and listening to a three-point sermon all took on a different meaning. Suddenly, a simple chorus pierced my soul, ancient texts spoke in a timely manner, and the sermon felt tailored to me. It certainly was not because this was a different service. It was internal. There was a sense of loss and desperation that made me more receptive to the message, the community, and God. As the Psalmist declares: The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.
The time to receive the Eucharist came, as a fitting conclusion to all that had transpired thus far. It was time to receive the Bread of Life. Instructions were given as to how this was to be done. In this church, communion is taken up front, so all must walk forward to receive. Right before it started, I blanked out: “Which side should I move towards?” It was then when I saw people in the pews in front of me moving to the right, walking down the aisle and receiving the elements. No need to figure it out anymore: just follow the crowd.
I was fixated on that thought: “Follow the crowd.” How comforting it was to not have to think, but simply follow. In a time of disorientation, following a crowd can be the best path for doing what is right. Stripped of self-reliance and self-confidence, we can simply observe and imitate. It was as if the Body of Christ was carrying me to the altar, when I myself did not have the strength to do so.
Maybe that is the point of church after all. With all its imperfections, this peculiar bunch is here to carry us back to God when we are unable to get there ourselves. When we feel strong, then it is our turn to help others find their way there again.
Could it be as simple as that? I don’t know. But for now, I cherish this holy moment of sustenance for my soul. I don’t have control over my life, but at least I can count on others to help me face this journey, together.
When lost, follow the crowd.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. Have you ever left your community of faith? If so, why?
2. Are all crowds trustworthy? If not, how can we know which crowds to follow?
3. Have you ever felt spiritually lost? If so, how did your find your spiritual path again?