Allow me to begin by pointing out that I am not an overtly religious man.
While I do enjoy church and have no trouble with the concept of organized religion, I'm not the kind to wear my faith on my sleeve. I don't walk around God-Blessing and Praise-Jesusing every cute little child I see, and I'm pretty lapsed when it comes to the idea of prayer. If God is all-knowing, then I don't need to bother sending off some private ethereal text message detailing what I want and why. He already knows.
The problem I have now is the same one I had when I was five years old -- lack of concentration. You could say this is more of a life skill problem than a religious one, but for some reason it stands out more clearly in church.
Perhaps it's because everyone else around me seems so determinedly intent on reciting the Lord's Prayer, or singing that hymn with the ridiculously complex melody. Seriously, what do they think we are, classically trained? Can we at least stick to a single octave so I don't have to modulate between sounding like a lead in the Vienna Boys Choir one minute and that "Oom Poppa Mow Mow" guy from the Oak Ridge Boys the next?
We hadn't even got ten minutes into the service last Sunday when I found my eyes darting around the room, checking for cracked paint, familiar faces, and bad toupees. The Italian, even more distracted than I, was flipping mindlessly through his hymnal when I caught glimpse of a hymn titled "Jesus Took a Towel."
Jesus took a towel?
"Jesus Took a Towel" might be a lovely hymn. It might be the most beautiful, spiritually-inspired verse ever put to music. Angels might sing it in their sleep at the end of their happiest days, but that won't change the fact I kept picturing Jesus poolside at some beachfront resort taking one of those cheap white towels with the broad blue stripe down the middle from a giant rolling bin. Or worse, Jesus nabbed for shoplifting at the home goods department of Walmart.
What, you think Jesus never went shopping?
It must have struck Our Daughter's funny bone similarly when I pointed it out to her, which made me feel a little better about myself. As we stood to sing the first hymn of the morning, I leaned over and whispered to her.
"What hymn are we going to sing now, 'Jesus Bought a Loofah?'"
There was no recovering after that. I'm probably going straight to hell in the fast lane, but if there's no sense of humor in heaven then that suits me just fine.
© 2012 Mark Feggeler