I rarely stay for “fellowship” after worship. Most weeks, as I leave church, I speak to as few people as possible. Usually I don’t even shake the pastor’s hand. That’s not because I don’t have friends at church, or because I don’t like the people at church. It’s not that I don’t like the coffee and cookies. It’s that most Sunday’s I can’t. I can’t nibble cookies and chat.
John Calvin, among others, believed that in worship we are brought into heaven. That is, the church is lifted up. Heaven and earth are joined together. Whatever it is that separates heaven and earth is gone. We are fully in God’s presence.
Well friends, for better or worse, I can’t move very quickly from the joined heaven and earth back to the “regular” world. My mind can’t shift from the final hymn, the charge and benediction and postlude to small talk about my afternoon plans. I need time to come back. Time to return.
Of course Christian life is a process of sactification or theosis. As we live into our faith the barriers between heaven and earth become more porous. “On earth as it is in heaven” becomes an increasing reality. Everywhere is revealed as a “thin place”where heaven and earth meet. But I’m not there yet. Perhaps someday. Perhaps then the conclusion of worship won’t be such a jarring experience for me. Perhaps worship won’t end.
But now, most Sunday’s I need a little time. Thanks for understanding.