Yesterday during worship, I pitched my small backpacking tent as part of the children’s sermon. I wanted to communicate the ancient Israelite experience of the tabernacle or tent of meeting as being portable. I had practiced setting it up prior to the message and thought I had it ready to go. But my practice session was outside with plenty of space. Inside on Sunday, it was a different story.
The poles are very long, even for a small tent. I was concerned that none of the children be struck by the poles, but I forgot to warn our musicians. As I whipped one pole around to insert into the tent sleeve, I nearly blinded the pianist. Fortunately she has quick hands and avoided any serious damage. I was sweating bullets until the tent finally popped up. After the tent was up I placed our altar Bible in the tent as a reminder of the ark of the covenant which rested inside Israel’s tabernacle.
Of course I wonder if the children made the connection between the Biblical story and our brief experience with a small backpacking tent. Hard to judge. Yet for a moment I saw in their faces a moment of astonishment or surprise when the tent “popped” up. I remember creating tents as a child out of blankets, chairs and small tables. It was a form of play that I enjoyed. I wonder if we had a brief moment of “play” in worship yesterday as the tent sprang up and later as the children walked through it.
In seminary, I remember reading an essay regarding worship, work and play. The article suggested that we sometime confuse the three: we tend to worship work, to work at play, and to play at worship. People often overstress their careers, become too competitive at their leisure activities, and behave lackadaisical at worship. We forget that worship is entering the holy presence of Almighty God.
Still the “play” moment in worship yesterday had a bit of awe and wonder within it. And I trust that God delighted in the children’s joy. I sure did.
How do you sort out work, play and worship?
Lord Jesus, let me find my purpose, my joy, my life in you.