The little guy came into the sacristy with a question.
“Pastor,” he said looking up at me as I adjusted my stole, “Does church have to be boring?”
“Yes,” I replied with a smile. “That’s because church isn’t Disneyland and Jesus isn’t Mickey Mouse.”
He nodded politely with a look of understanding mixed with confusion and went back to his parents in the pew.
Boredom is a necessary step in the mastery of anything. It comes after novelty, when the freshness and excitement of the new have worn off and a certain routine tedium sets in. Before a cook can master a dish, she must make it many times until she can literally make it in her sleep. Before a musician masters a piece of music, he must play it until he’s bored with it and then go beyond to the uncharted waters of mastery. Few manage to do this consistently and well. That’s why most of us settle for mediocrity.
Boredom in worship is also a malady of the soul, an artifact of old Adam who wants to be entertained by God rather than engaged by Him, who seeks novelty rather than the new song of salvation, who wants to “get something out of church” rather than receive in beggarly emptiness.
Boredom is like the “Wall” a marathon runner encounters around the 22-mile mark, that line beyond which you have to force yourself to keep on running after your energy reserves are spent. When you are bored in worship, repent, reflect, and refocus. Listen carefully to the words you hear and are saying. Increase your awareness and fight the urge of distraction. Remind yourself that salvation is dying and rising not being entertained into heaven. It involves a cross not a comfortable box seat.
When I was younger, like that little guy in the sacristy, I wanted everything to be fun – home, school, church. Life was a playground, a grand amusement park. Disneyland. At age 62 where I can see both my life past and my death to come, I no longer look for the entertaining and amusing but the profound and meaningful. Profundity and meaning lie beyond boredom where the everyday and the mundane reveal their deeper truth and beauty.
Gloria in Excelsis.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.