Friday, August 4, 2017

A Lofty Perch

The last three churches to which I was appointed before retirement (Vidalia, Perry, Richmond Hill) all had a balcony.  Personally, I have never understood why some folks are balcony sitters when space is available on the lower level, but some swear by their spot that is high and lifted up.  But, I did discover that the balcony was a good place to be on Sunday morning while the church was waking up for worship.  In the beginning no one knew I frequented this spot in the pre-service hour so what I saw and heard was spontaneous and done without any benefit of being seen. 
I would often carry my sermon manuscript up to that high place and pray over it and about it before folks starting arriving.  It became a time for praying for the preaching and the worship which would soon be taking place.  But, there was more.  From that lofty perch I could watch those who came in with liturgical paraments in hand.  I could watch the ones who brought the service flowers. and could listen to the musicians as they did their morning warm-up.  Many times I found myself worshipping as fingers on the keyboard sent hymns of praise soaring into the silent and still space.  The balcony was often the place where Sunday worship started for me.
So, as I reflect on the holy places along my spiritual journey, this lofty perch came to mind.  Many were the moments when I encountered the presence of the Holy One in that place.  As is always the case, whenever we put ourselves in a different set of circumstances, we are likely to view things differently.  A seminary professor often told us to sit in a different place in his classroom so we could get a different perspective.  The balcony gave me a different perspective which often caused me to do things more intentionally in the hours that followed than I might have done otherwise.  Holy places do this for us no matter where they are experienced.

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