Most noises in church don't bug me. I've heard 'em all. People snoring. Babies crying. Rain falling. Crickets chirping. Sound systems popping. Toilets flushing. Offering and communion plates dropping. Sirens screaming and cars speeding outside. Kids yelling and phones ringing inside. Hymnals hitting a bunch of piano keys. Organists standing up on a foot full of bass notes. Coughing. Sneezing. Blowing. Laughing. Crying. Shouting. Whispering. Gasping. Yawning. Clapping.
It's no big deal...noises really come with the territory. Even some "joyful noises" are part of the package. I've heard some guys sing so badly they sounded like a bull moose with its hind legs caught in a trap as they bellow the baritone part to "Wonderful Grace of Jesus." And I've heard a few sopranos who really needed to be put out of their misery. (I've often been thankful that stained glass doesn't shatter.) But their motives were right, so they will receive their reward. (I hope it includes heavenly voice lessons or we're all in for an awfully long eternity.)
There is one shrill noise, however, unique to this electronic age, that I find both irritating and irresponsible. It's those plagued digital watches! It's bad enough to have 'em chime and dong and zip and blip and bzzzt and ting every hour on the hour, but since they're not synchronized to go off exactly at the same time, it's 15 to 20 seconds of every conceivable tone. It's enough to make a hound lift his head and holler.
I'm not alone, believe me. You can't imagine the bulletin stubs, postcards, verbal comments, threats, and letters I've received pleading that somebody say something.
So I think I'll make this suggestion to pastors everywhere: Tell your congregation that if they promise to be more thoughtful with their hourly chimes, you'll be more punctual with your closing time. But warn them that for every weird blip...blip...blip you hear, you'll add another 10 minutes to the sermon.
Won't it be fun watching everybody glare at the guys who turn the meeting into a marathon? Come to think of it, while I've heard lots of sounds and seen lots of sights in churches, I've never seen a Sunday morning congregational mutiny. We could make history!
We cannot watch the clock and at the same time worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.