by Bill McArthur
(READ PART 1 HERE)
Here I am then.
Attending a church service.
But this is not what I think it should be like.
Where is the droning organ?
Instead the hall fills with sound.
Sounds that I recognise from outside
but not in the church.
I don't know the tunes though.
Where are the hymn books?
Ah, there are the words on a screen, which helps.
I look around and see people singing
With some clapping and raising their hands.
I am no sure about this.
I keep my coat zipped up despite the heat,
glad to be in the back row.
More songs and jumping around.
The next bit is about what is going on in the church.
Quite a lot it seems,
some of it may be interesting.
Then I suppose it's the sermon
as a man has walked onto the stage with a microphone.
Probably the minister
although he has a pair of jeans and a tee shirt on.
He talks of God, of Jesus, of love
and I lift my head to hear more.
He talks of church family and being part of something
and I think, maybe.
After a while he stops and prays for some things.
Praying - what is that all about?
Then I hear him say that God loves me
no matter what I have done
and I can come to him and be forgiven
All I have to do is say yes to him.
Then I hear the minister say
you can do this today.
You can invite Jesus into your life.
Just come forward to the front.
This is it, decision time.
I don't need much time.
I feel myself rising from my chair
and walking to the front.
by Bill McArthur
Here I am.
Standing at a church door.
Not one from my childhood memories.
That building seemed an empty place
of stain glass windows
a clanging Sunday bell
and tight uncomfortable stalls.
A cold place with coats kept on
and music from a distant world.
Instead this church is a community centre
with a smiling welcome in the car park.
Yet still I am nervous.
I am a stranger in a strange place.
What has brought me here?
I have seen some of these people
and they appear happy and open -
Things that I am not.
I have felt a gentle pull in their direction
to find out more.
So I have sought them out.
Let’s do this and see what happens.
I can always just walk out.
In through the front door
past a smiling hullo.
Lots of hullos in fact.
Into the main hall.
My steps falter at the sight of all the people.
What am I doing here?
I turn to walk back the way I came
but I am caught by another hullo
and this time also an extended hand
which I shake.
No turning back now.
I head for what looks like a coffee machine.
Awkwardly I stand wishing the service would start
feeling like I have gate crashed something.
Somebody approaches me, argh!
But it’s actually okay.
Our chat is fine.
At last we all sit down.
I sit in the back row
with my coat on, still fastened.
Someone takes to the stage
and the visitors are welcomed.
I guess that’s me.
And then the first day of the rest of my life begins.
(READ PART 2 HERE)