Ben’s outbursts during the praise and worship were distracting to some.  However, Ben didn’t talk in words.  His groans and moans were his expressions of praise and worship.  All during the service Ben sat quietly subdued but praise and worship was his time to lift his wobbly arms and flailing head and yell.  When a staff person explained to me that he was distracting others, I explained to her that I believed that  Ben’s worship was holy and right and he would be allowed to holler his “groaning that could not be expressed.”  She wasn’t pleased but she didn’t insist that he be kept quiet either.

At a recent funeral for a friend who is mentally challenged, the pastor said that Susan would often express what others in the congregation would like to express but didn’t feel it was proper in a Presbyterian church.  He told the people gathered to mourn our loss that her expressions would be the thing the congregation missed the most.  When someone she knew was in the hospital, Susan would moan loudly and say, “Oh, no!”  in her deep contralto voice.

While we endeavor to teach our member the decorum of worship, there are times that our members teach us the importance of holy expressions of joy or grief that reach beyond words into the depth of our souls extending straight to the heart of God.

When Ben moved to another city, I grieved because I knew that something would be missing from our praise and worship time that only Ben could bring.  Now, I grieve for Palmdale Presbyterian Church because I know that something and someone wonderful will be missing from their quiet, reverent services.  Perhaps not even the person as much as the holy interruptions from a holy woman.  Goodbye, Susan.  We will all miss you.

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