Grateful to be a Pastor, Not a Judge

I was in court today.

I was there to support my friend. She made a mistake, indeed she has made many in the past few years, but now she is living a new life.

I was blessed to be there, to talk with her and her attorney before the judge arrived, to feel her anxiety but also to share her hope in the future.

Something really struck me for the very first time. I have been in court many times but for some reason today I noticed how similar courtrooms and church sanctuaries appear.

There are the rows of seats, all facing forward, with the eye inevitably drawn to the center spot where the judge sits. There are the seals of the Commonwealth and the city above the judge on the wall. Then there are court personnel–the clerk who sits next to the judge at a lower level, and the deputies who stand in front of the bench to direct people where to go and what to sign. One of the deputies is the disciplinarian, reminding people not to talk and where to sit. She even tells people they violate the dress code (no shorts allowed in this courtroom).

In a church, of course, the cross is the focal point for worship–and in our church the choir takes center stage below.  There is no judge, but there are worship leaders. They are there not to maintain order but to help us worship. They want us to make a joyful noise!

My friend was spared some serious penalities. She will not go back to jail. She will be able to move forward on her dream.

But the courtroom, while it looks similar to a church sanctuary, is not where her dream will be nurtured. That happens in church. The courtroom is about the past, the sanctuary is about the future.

Strange how things that can look so similar can be so very different. I am grateful to be in church!

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