What if we would deprive the Sunday service of the nice form? If we would not meet in a nice place, with decorations, lamps and comfortable chairs? What if this place would be too warm or too cold? What if after the service it would be not possible to drink coffee and eat a good cake? What if you wouldn’t dress fashionably to church? If you would not be able to show on social media snapshots how the church is cool? What if there wasn’t a spectacular worship with multiple instruments and a multimedia show? What would happen if Sunday meetings were stripped of the glamor of the form?
Would there be love for God and love for each other? Would we still find changed lives? Healing? Deliverance? Joy, only from salvation? Would Jesus be enough? What would happen within you?
This is not bad. But I’m asking what’s underneath. Also myself. First, myself. It is not just a question, but my experience. These thoughts were born not in Poland, but in Mozambique, where I have been living for five years. They are the result of all hot Sundays and all the local lacks. It is impossible to look pretty and feel good when you are soaked in sweat before you leave the house. You sit on bare ground, grass mats, or at best plastic chairs. You do not have access to water and toilet. This inconvenience which is routine to me always leads to the same question: is Sunday service in a village African church equally appealing to me? Does Jesus attract me also without a pretty form? Is it even Jesus that attracts me?
I do not want to. Every week on Sunday. First of all, because there is often no electricity on Sundays – so I wake up sweaty and there is no running water. And an hour. Service starts at eight in the morning, so I have to be up by seven at the latest. If we would like to eat a slow Sunday breakfast – even earlier. So we prefer quick flakes with milk. First we drive ten minutes by car. Short. But without a car, it’s impossible anymore. The buses take you to the main street, and you still have to drive deep into the village, navigating the narrow sandy roads where the car can barely fit. We park under a mango tree and go down the path trampled by people, or we cross someone’s backyards. On the sand. On the garbage. Carrying Jo on arms. Already in the heat.
After ten minutes we are at a building made of bamboo and grass, the walls are plastered with rice bags. With wooden benches, which are not stable and where it is easy to tear clothes. There are also some plastic chairs. But there is a shade, and that’s the most important thing at this point. Relief finishes soon, however, because Jo wants to go outside. And play in the sand that looks more like dust. It leaves a sticky light gray layer on the body and clothes. When we get home, I take off all his clothes while still outside and pour water over him.
It doesn’t have an eternal meaning. It doesn’t. But it is a real struggle of the body. And a real Sunday choice. A choice that could be different. And the thoughts of not going to church come up too many times. It’s fine. The most important thing is what I do with them.
In our church, we worship God by singing to the accompaniment of a drum made of a large plastic oil bottle with the bottom cut off. A twig is used as a drum stick. We also have ornaments. Long chains of paper that once belonged to a book. The kind you make with children to place on the Christmas tree. These chains are suspended below a roof of dried grass. We also have a pulpit that is wrapped in purple cloth.
There is also a form in our church. And it can become more important than meeting God and each other as well. But for people like me who have spent most of their lives comfortably, going to a church like this involves breaking the body’s habits. Weekly.
It confronts the heart. It asks it for reasons. It looks at the motives. This is more than much desired. I recommend trying an uncomfortable church. You can also do it in Poland, in different dimensions. Check what will happen within you.