Confession: While I have a number of favorite "places" within our church, there is one spot that is my absolute favorite.
Yes, I love the Pastor's office, with it's re-purposed bookshelves from the "Old Church," it's east and south facing windows that let the sunshine pour in while I am there on a Saturday morning completing a sermon, and even all of my "stuff" that I've been able to display on the ample shelving.
I love our altar, a decades old homage to our Lord Jesus Christ, and a beautiful half-moon banister where we still do a kneeling communion on the first and third Sundays of the month.
And I've enjoyed many a cup of coffee in our updated fellowship hall that sits in the basement under the sanctuary, as it does in so many similar prairie churches that were built decades ago.
But my absolute favorite place to be in our church is the balcony. This realization hit me this past Sunday when we were celebrating Veterans Day at the end of our service.
Our lead usher for the day was going to ring our beautiful tower bell 11 times in honor of the time and day on which the World War I Armistice Day cease fire took place. And I wanted to be in the balcony there to capture the video of it for our church's Facebook page.
So, about two-thirds of the way through the service, I sneaked out of the sanctuary and made my way up the narrow, winding staircase that makes it way up to our balcony. ... What a great staircase, by the way! ... All of the creaks and groans of solidly made wood stairs that have stood the test of time.
When I arrived upstairs, I found that I was the only one there, as the lead usher hadn't made his way back from collecting the offering as of yet. ... And so, being the only one around, I nestled into one of the pews (no pew cushions up here!) and listened to the service. Luckily for me, our church women's group was conducting the service that day, and so I had the opportunity to just take a deep breath in and appreciate the worship from a vantage point I seldom get: the balcony.
As I lounged in the pew, I marveled at how close being up there brings you to the fantastic woodwork that has incorporated into the church when it was built in 1936. Stunningly beautiful exposed beams are visible, and there is a tenderly cared for carved wood design on the west-wall, filling a space that seems like it may have at one time held a stain-glassed window.
And the sound. Oh, what acoustics in that space. I could clearly hear the voices of the women running our service, carried to me without amplification. Even better, being the only one sitting up there in the rafters, there was no other ambient noise caused by people to distract me.
Our balcony probably is about 15 feet above the Sanctuary floor, and provides a tremendous view of all that is happening up front on our altar. If you pretend just a little bit, it's kind of like watching a live diorama of a church service going on, as the folks down below are surprisingly small for only being up less than one story.
And so, here I was caught in my reverie for about 10 minutes, before just as the crowd started to sing the final hymn, our lead usher came bounding up the wooden steps to cap the service with the ringing of our tower bell.
But, oh, what a precious 10 minutes. ... And I know that in that small sliver of time, I shared a moment with God, who likely enjoys our balcony as much as I do. ... Amen.