On Or Off?

                                                                       "On or Off?"

One Sunday morning while sitting in church the sun was shining  brightly through the windows.  It was still winter and living in Illinois the sun is somewhat limited this time of year. However, when we see and feel the sunshine we take the time to stop and thank God.
The singing that morning too was warming my soul.  Some people were singing the melody, some singing harmony, some singing on key, some singing off key.  It was wonderful! But, what I loved more was seeing people smiling at each other as we were all one worshipping God.
John and I have been blessed to be able to travel a little more the last few years giving us the opportunity to visit other churches. Some we felt instantly welcome, some feeling like we were helping them to put in the weekly hour, and some feeling we were watching a performance. Every church had its own unique way of outreaching. Because of these differences we took back a little something of every church we visited, just some more than others.
Yet, I got to wondering why did I have all the different feelings when visiting churches? It then occurred to me that Sunday morning with the sun shining through the window, the churches I felt the most welcomed is where there was light.  By this I mean the natural light coming through plain windows and the inside lights left on all the time, even with the overhead projector being used for songs or preaching.  The auditorium wasn't dark giving way to a spotlight on those in front. Now, don't get me wrong I'm not saying those in the spotlight were not sincere in what they were doing. It's just when I'm in a dark room, and there is a spot light on whoever or whatever is going on, I tend to give them or it more of my attention. I have to remind myself to worship with the whole church. Sometimes I have to work on staying awake as my drooling while snoring is not a pretty site. 
It also occurred to me another reason why I probably felt more welcome where there was light is I love being outside enjoying God's creation of his nature.  There was a scene in ​"Soul Surfer"
​ where church services are on the beach. Can you imagine being on the beach singing praise to God overlooking the ocean?  John and I helped chaperon a youth group to Turkey Run State Park one summer. On the Sunday we were there we walked until we found some beautiful rocks where we could all sit together to have our worship time. It was amazing. 
While visiting other churches I also see more worship centers, auditoriums, sanctuaries, or whatever they may be called with no windows.  I'm sure there is a reason for this. Could it be so people don't feel like they are in church or some kind of organized religion?  Is it done so not to draw attention to those who do fall asleep? Could the leadership be trying to orchestrate the worship in a way that guides or even controls our feelings?  Maybe this be the modern version of what was done years ago by singing ten verses to "​Just As I Am
​ ," while the minister is waving his bible over his head, for he just knows is there is someone there that needs to come forward to repent?
Of course, having lights on or off, having or not having windows is not a salvation issue. You will not find book, chapter, or verse concerning this subject in the bible or any thoughts in a commentary. As I wrote earlier I'm the type that loves the outdoors.  You may be the type that rather would be indoor and enjoy the darkness when it comes to worshiping. Neither one are wrong. I would just like to "shed a little light" by simply asking ourselves a question.  Is the darkness helping or stopping me to connect with the church, so we can edify, build up, and encourage, each other?
 There is a commercial on the radio that ends with these words. ​"I'm Tom Bodett for Motel 6, and we'll leave the light on for you."
​ If you worship with a church that turns off the light maybe you could try leaving on the light once in a while.  Who knows you may be pleasantly surprised who you see.
"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." Mary Anne Radmacher
ADDITIONAL READING John 8:12 Ephesians 5:19 - 20 Romans 14:19 I Thessalonians 5:11  Psalms 148
  ©Melinda Sutherland 5/1/201

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