My latest copies of The Mockingbird magazine arrived today, including issue 21, which is themed on Sleep.
We had a couple of hot days Saturday and Sunday; watching those gathered on heated evenings struggle to focus is a feature of such times.
And yet, in these circumstances rest is not a failing, it is a reaction to the circumstance.
Which helps me remember that our primary goal is not to keep people stimulated and excited, but to help them be assured of him in whom we rest.

This is from an article called Sleeping In Church by Greg Paul. It was also posted on their website.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep,” the psalmist writes, “for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Ps 4:8). While it seems unlikely that he had worship gatherings in view, perhaps it’s a strange sort of compliment to the church and preacher if someone falls asleep during the service now and then.
Many churches and monasteries of former times had an officer called a beadle, among whose functions was the responsibility of keeping congregants awake. In Puritan churches, the beadle would patrol the aisles carrying a long pole with a brass knob on the end with which he could rap the noggin of a dozing parishioner. The rigor of that expression of Christian faith reflected a view of a God who would not be amused by gentle snores in the midst of worship — a God who, perhaps, was not much inclined to be amused at any time for any reason.
While beadles have, thankfully, gone the way of frock coats and buckled shoes, the now more common mode of church services as performance/production — that is, a kind of spiritually oriented show presented to a largely passive audience — seem more oriented to sensory, emotional and (sometimes) intellectual stimulation than to restfulness or a deep sense of safety. We’re still being kept awake, but by other means. Would it be too bold to suggest that we seem now to serve a God who regards amusement, or at least entertainment of a sort, as a key function of the church?
While we can certainly benefit spiritually from those sorts of stimulation, I do wonder if we’re missing something. Today more and more voices are declaring that churches are too frequently not safe places; often the people crying out have already left because of exclusion or abuse. The tragic and unspeakably sordid list of popular Christian leaders, organizations, and megachurches revealed as purveyors of spiritual, emotional, financial, gender and especially sexual betrayal and oppression grows by the day. The personalities and situations that are extreme enough to make the news must surely be only the tip of the iceberg: they are as likely to thrive in a small rural congregation as anywhere else.
Any congregation, including its leadership, that believes the church’s primary purpose is providing a product to be consumed by congregants — even if it is regarded as a spiritual one — has surely fallen asleep. And not in the sense that the psalmist describes. I mean more in the character of the disciples catching forty winks at Gethsemane while Jesus sweats blood and the betrayer approaches.

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