A View from the Pew: An Hour a Week

A View from the Pew

I am not a dreamer.

That’s not to say I lack ambition or that I don’t hope for certain positive life outcomes. No, I mean, literally, I don’t have dreams; at least I don’t remember dreams.

My wife would tell you it’s because I’m sleep deprived, but no matter the cause, I haven’t had many dreams that have stuck with me an hour past waking.

That’s what makes the dream I had two weeks ago all the more powerful.

In the dream, it was a Sunday morning, and I was at church. For some reason we were gathered in the Fellowship Hall, and we were partaking in the Lord’s Supper. As our pastor gave the invitation to celebrate Communion by intinction, I looked around the full room, glanced at the single cup and loaf of bread on the white table cloth and made a mental calculation.

I decided I had a good 20 minutes before I could come forward, so I pulled out my laptop and headed to one of the breakout Sunday school rooms to get some work done.

As I made my way across the crowded room carrying my computer, the pastor looked up, saw me and while people were lining up at the table, he bent down to the mic and said while looking directly at me “It’s only an hour a week, people.”

A little embarrassed but undeterred, I made my way to the room, opened up the laptop and began working. I found that I was unable to focus on whatever I thought was so pressing and kept rolling Jim’s comment over and over in my mind. I could not mount a defense. I missed the Lord’s Supper altogether.

After the service had concluded, the pastor stuck his head into the room and apologized.

“I shouldn’t have said that and singled you out,” he offered.

And if this dream had any redemption for me, it was in this moment.

“No, you are absolutely right. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Then I woke up.

I’ve already said that I am not a dreamer, so I will not make any comparisons to Biblical visionaries such as Joseph, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Peter, or Paul. I will also have no need of an interpretation from Daniel. The message of my dream seems pretty clear.

In the hour of worship, particularly in the participation in Communion, there is nothing more important. Nothing.

I don’t think I would actually leave a service of Communion to do work in real life, but you never know. I have done similarly destructive things in the spirit of being productive.

I believe God is at work in the world all the time, but the moments I allow God to be at work in my life are few. An hour on Sunday morning is one of those times. I must treat that space in my life as sacred, protecting it vigilantly against intrusion.

No matter how many hours a week I may spend privately in prayer or reading Scripture, the one hour of corporate worship—planned with intention, led by ministers and musicians who put preparation and effort into the service, and infused by the presence of the Holy Spirit—is vital to my health.

Notice I didn’t say “spiritual health.” I believe corporate worship is essential to my overall well-being.

I could acknowledge this truth from Exodus or Hebrews or any number of exemplars in the life of the early church as chronicled in the Acts of the Apostles, but when I had that dream the other night, I received a gift. I was awakened by the horror of my own inclinations left unchecked.

Maybe it was, as my good pastor friend Rick Bennett says, just my brain expunging all the random thoughts of the day. But if so, I uncovered a pearl of wisdom among the refuse. I will treasure it each Sunday as I enter the house of the Lord and lay aside the weights that so easily beset me… even the lightest and thinnest of laptop computers.

Lance Wallace_for_webLance Wallace is a Baptist layperson who works as Director of Communications for the Georgia Tech Research Institute. He previously served as Director of Communications with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Lance blogs at newsouthessays.com.

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