May 29, 2008

Welcome Aboard...

I stood on the platform, waiting for the Metro Blue Line to arrive. A large number of people waited with me. With gas now over $4 per gallon in southern California, public transportation has become more crowded.

When the train doors opened, I entered and quickly took a seat. I wanted to be sure I got one, because I had a long way to go, and I wanted to read, which is a bit more difficult to do while standing. Fortunately, there were enough seats for everyone. The doors closed, the train pulled out of the 7th Street station, and I opened my book.

After about three stops, I noticed something: there were no interruptions to my reading. Normally, automated announcements repeatedly let riders know what station is approaching, along with reminders to not eat, drink, or smoke on the trains. (And, unlike the announcments on the Red Line, these are loud and easy to hear.) Today, however, there were no announcements. Perhaps they weren't working, or perhaps the conductor simply didn't turn them on.

I was thankful for the quiet that allowed me to read uninterrupted. I was about to resume reading when I realized that, upon riding Metro for the first time one month ago, I was thankful for those announcements. Back then I wasn't sure where I was going, and in fact I had a hard time just finding the Blue Line train at the Seventh Street station where I transfered from the Red Line. So those announcements reassured me that I was on the right train and that I wouldn't miss my stop.

I no longer needed those announcements, I thought to myself, but perhaps someone else did.

On my first Sunday at Bixby Knolls Christian Church, I held on tightly to the worship bulletin. It was my guide. Like the announcements on the Blue Line, the bulletin let me know what was coming up next. As the weeks have gone by, though, my grip on the bulletin has loosened up a bit. The flow of worship here is becoming more familiar. Eventually I may refer to it only to remind myself of what the hymn numbers are.

Some may wonder why every week, I recite an invitation to communion, or why the words to the Lord's Prayer or Gloria Patri appear on the screen. Most who worship here have been down this route so many times before, they don't need such things. But for someone who may be new--who may, in fact, be worshiping at Bixby Knolls Christian Church for the first time--they are reassuring. They let them know what's coming next, and that they are, in fact, on the right train.

1 comment:

Adam Gonnerman said...

I have a feeling we'll all be taking a lot more trains and buses here in North America.

Good illustration of your point. The bulletin my church uses is complete, except there's no order of worship. Just a list of who is doing what that day. I don't know if the folks who make the bulletin just don't know how to make an order of worship, or don't want to do so. There is order, but not rigid by any means. Songs are selected by whoever is leading singing, usually just before the service begins, so we can't hardly list that.