Everything is hunky-dory: People lift their hands and sing with hearts full; the worship band is really bringing the house down; the sanctuary is simply skinny-dipping in the glory and the majesty of God. And then the scary part comes.
Worship is brought to a close and the pastor stands to pray over the children going off to their Sunday school classes to make art of Jesus in elbow macaroni and Elmers. However as everyone bends their heads to pray, you know that its not Lil' Jimmy they are thinking about but what awkward version of Pastoral Simon Says you are going to play today. Here are a few examples:
"Turn to your neighbor and hug them this morning!"
"Hold hands with the person next to you while we close in prayer."
"Tell your neighbor you love them!"
Its all good for the pastor up at the pulpit, smiling beatifically as he watches everyone shuffle and mumble apologies. Thats all fine and dandy for him, he got the lifetime pass from Pastoral Simon Says when he graduated seminary. The Catholics have it all worked out, too. Sometime in history a catholic got the bright idea of confession boxes. You literally get into a box and communicate through a wooden lattice. Brilliance.
Its not that i'm scared of people or anything. There was that phase I went through where i planned to become a hermit in Hawaii, riding wild dolphins and living on stockpiles of Reese's in my posh hermit cave. However even the most sociable person doesn't want to hold hands with a total stranger and then embrace them though. Actually...now that I think of it I know a lot of people who would do that. But they would do it expecting never having to see the stranger again. When you go to church with them you smile at them every week in passing and remember them as that one person with the sharp rings or sweaty thumbs.
While perhaps its my job to rise to the occasion and be more sociable when declaring love to my pew neighbors I have a new game suggestion for churches: Icebreakers. Why not give the congregation a hand next Sunday and give a specific question? Or better yet, play charades. Monopoly. ANYTHING.If the pastor asks the congregation to go any farther than shaking hands one Sunday I might just resort to a game of "Which Communion Cup if the Bread Under?" in the aisle.
Holy Hand Sanitizer,