Two men, Frank and Shane, attended a traditional, 11 o’clock worship service. They do not know each other.

Frank (thinking to himself): “Look at that man on the other side of the church. Not only is he not wearing a tie, he doesn’t even have a sport coat. He’s wearing tennis shoes, slacks and a polo shirt. Probably been dragged to church by his wife. I’ll bet he’d rather be on the golf course or pushing a lawn mower.

“Here we are, singing the great hymns of faith and he’s not even holding a hymnal. What example is that to his children? He could at least read the words, move his lips and pretend to be engaged. Instead he is shoving his hands into his pockets and staring at the floor. You’d think he was facing an execution.

“I’d like to straighten him out, but we’re not to think bad things about other people, especially in church. I’ve got to do something to show him his attitude is wrong. I’ve got it! I’ll sing twice as loud as usual. Maybe he’ll hear me from across the aisle. I’ll make up for his lack of participation and show him it’s OK for men to sing in church.

“I’m glad I can let my light shine before others so they’ll give glory to God. I suspect I’m making a positive witness to him this very moment.”

Shane (thinking to himself): “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this place. Stained glass and pipe organs and people dressed in robes isn’t exactly my cup of tea. My wife told me I should wear a suit, but this isn’t a wedding or a funeral. I’d feel a lot more comfortable on the golf course, which is where I’m headed as soon as this service is over, which I hope is soon.

“I suppose I need to be here. Something moves me — even if only vaguely — each time I come with my family. I can’t admit this to them and hardly admit it to myself. Frankly, I’m not sure if I feel good because I’ve been here or because I survived coming.

“Part of what makes me uncomfortable is people like that guy on the other side of the church dressed in a suit and tie and standing a bit too tall and proud. His expression is a mixture of smugness and confidence, and what I see out of the side of my eye suggests he might not approve of me. Or maybe that’s my imagination or insecurity.

“Do we have to sing every verse of every hymn? I never liked to sing, nor can I read music notes, so why bother picking up a songbook to pretend I’m singing? And why is that guy singing so loudly? Does he think he’s Elvis?”

Do you recognize yourself in these persons? What attitude do you bring to morning worship? If you are a regular worshiper, do you disdain those who seem out of place?

Email Creede Hinshaw at

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