Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "When He Cometh"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 46:10a – Be still, and know that I am God. (RSV)
There is an old preacher's story about the little girl who brought her friend to worship with her one Sunday. When her friend started to talk out loud, the girl said, "You have to be quiet or the hushers will come for you."
My weekly church bulletin has a banner at the top of the first page asking people to be quiet before the worship begins — to be still — a message from the hushers.
While I like my short, quiet time before worship, I also like to practice what I read about a psychologist's research. He discovered that when people are being seated in church, every time someone nearby acknowledges them, calls them by name, or inquires about them, their serotonin level goes away up. Serotonin is that brain chemical that makes us feel happy, loving, and I dare say, neighbourly. Serotonin may do a person more good than some sermons!
Until the outbreak of some germs a few years ago, it was a common practice to shake hands with the people seated nearby and to greet them in the name of Jesus, and often, after a few weeks, even by their own names. As one who at the time was in the pulpit, it often appeared that I had lost control of the congregation. The people of God really enjoyed greeting one another. My other observation is that after the greeting time, the congregation seemed to be more attentive, more alive, and more responsive — an observation based on the gusty singing, hugs, and handshakes at the door.
Recently, my minister introduced a time of dialogue into her sermons. She presents a question that arises from the Scriptures of the day, and in small groups, thoughts, information, and examples of how the Word speaks to people are shared. The serotonin level of the congregation soars to new heights, and I noticed that the coffee and fellowship time is friendlier, warmer, and lasts much longer.
There is another verse about being still. Moses was facing the crossing of the Red Sea and the people were afraid. Moses tells the people, "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still." (Exodus 14:14 RSV)
We have times when we are afraid. We have times when we face transformations in our lives. It is good that we are reminded at certain times to be still and to let God fight for us. We need to give up control and to allow God's serotonin to do its work!
Together, we pray: Gracious God, we give thanks for this day and in this day for Your love which You address to us personally and by our own names. Amen.