Internet searches give a glimpse of the (sometimes) bewildering questions that preoccupy people.
On our website, as on virtually any, the web editor gets to see what it is that people were looking for before they landed on the site.
One such search caught my eye today:
“5 things you need to take along with you when coming for a Sunday church service”
I don’t know what church the searcher had in mind; I don’t know why 5 things; I don’t know if perhaps it was a phrase floating around on some other website that was picked up and tried as a search for comparison.
But it got me wondering about what 5 things I would think of to take to a church service.
I remember from when I was a child: money for the collection, peppermints to sustain you through the very long sermons – and ONE usually didn’t last…
Oh, and your shoes had to be polished!
Looking back on those memories now makes me smile. As an experience, going to church certainly has changed since then.
But there’s a sneaky suspicion at the back of my mind that I may be taking this question too much at face value. What if the searcher was looking for mental preparation rather than physical? ‘Things‘ is such a nebulous word.
When Jesus went round Galilee speaking to the crowds who followed him, he often used the phrase “he who has ears to hear”, meaning: you can take from this what I say, or you can put it aside – it’s your choice.
Those crowds didn’t come with money and peppermints or polished shoes. They came as they were, what they stood up in, on the spur of the moment. But above all they came to listen. Searchers all, for something they felt in need of knowing even if maybe they didn’t quite know what that something was.
They came unprepared. Without food – and it was provided for them. Without hope – and many found it.
Five things? Why complicate it?!