Editor’s Note: This is a post I originally penned in 2015 when my family was regularly attending Life Mission Church. I found it sitting in the “unpublished drafts” folder on my blog. We have moved on to a new church family, but I will never forget this.
On Sunday mornings, I look forward to seeing something that’s not a part of our church’s formal sermon. A few weeks ago I accidentally stumbled upon a regular lesson in real love – a wordless demonstration that brings me as much satisfaction every weekend as sitting with my children and listening to God’s word.
Our family sits in the same row every Sunday at 11 a.m. You can find us stage left, in the high seats, three or four rows from the back wall. This is where we’ve chosen to sit since last spring when our friends invited us to try their church and my daughter was saved that first morning we shared together. So in that respect, our seats have a special meaning to us.
The same is somewhat true of others around us. While they might not have the same deep affection for where they watch the proceedings, many of the people around us find their way to the same seats or thereabouts every Sunday. An unofficial seating chart like this makes it easier to people watch and develop some familiarity with those around you.
The unspoken attraction I anticipate every weekend is a couple sitting a row ahead of us, midway down the seats. They are an African-American couple, one of only a few such couples at our church. And they do nearly everything in unison.
During the worship service, the raise their hands up together in praise. They keep an arm around one another and rock side to side to the music. They hold each other tightly, by my estimation embodying all the love and faith that’s been sung about on stage.
My favorite moment, though, is when worship is over and they sit down together. Immediately, their hands are intertwined, their arms draped over one of their folded legs. Their hands are held tightly – and they don’t let go until the last prayer has been said.
Obviously it would make them uncomfortable if they knew I watched them. But once you’ve seen it, it’s hard to look away. Several times during the service I look down and their hands are still clasped. Both of them intensely focused on what’s being said. Occasionally the woman will lean over and lay her head on his shoulder. But the hands … they never let go.
I doubt anyone else has noticed. But to me, it’s a small example of something that is as perfect as anything can be in this world. A couple worshiping together. The man being strong for his wife. And the wife, by measure, returning every bit of strength as her husband shows. I don’t know this couple in the slightest, but I would guess their relationship is solid – built as firmly on the foundation of the Lord as is their faith. They have something the Lord won’t allow them to lose, given their faith. And it’s on display every Sunday in something as simple as held hands.
This is the small, secondary sermon I take in quietly every weekend. And it’s there, on display and as dependable as anything the preacher has to say.