Having attended mainline Presbyterian churches for my entire life, I am familiar with the total aversion to whooping it up in church. We are reverent. We are respectful. We are attentive. We do quiet like nobody’s business. We are rarely tempted to sway to the rhythm of the hymns and anthems that permeate the pews on Sunday mornings. But why? Other churches do it. Some have rock bands leading their inner metronomes to glory, but the Presbyterians, well…the Presbyterians don’t do that…much.
In my younger years, on any given Sunday, I would start to feel the beat during a spiritual and inadvertently, my toe would start to tap. Unquestionably and on cue, I would get at least one disapproving look from some of the elder Calvinists in the room. At least, at that time, I interpreted their expressions as disapproving. What I didn’t realize was that they were not chastising me at all. They were trying to save me! You see, they knew what I had yet to learn. It isn’t that Presbyterians don’t want to jump up and down to the rhythm of the night. It isn’t that they find shame in clapping to the beat of the gospel. It isn’t at all that they do not approve of the Sunday morning clap. It is simply that they know an unspoken truth of the people of the white walls better than I. Presbyterians can’t clap. They can’t.There. I’ve said it. Blame it on the grape juice if you must, but the reality is that they cannot clap to a beat. Oh, I know what you are thinking.
“Not true! _______________(fill in the blank), in our choir, claps all the time!”
Hmmmmm. Maybe. Still, I challenge you to re-evaluate that person’s clap. If they are indeed of Presbyterian heritage, they will not be able to clap to the beat. They may slam their palms together with a smile and the spirit of a prophet, but just watch them closely. They are off beat. I stake my husband’s kilt on it. It’s as though they are hearing music in their head that has nothing to do with the music that is actually present. The good news is that if a person has enough Baptist in their bloodline, they may be able to keep the Sunday boogie going, but chances are they will not indulge lest they make a spectacle of them selves. And the irony is that Baptists are not supposed to dance, right? Right? Isn’t that the old joke about…Never mind. The point is that until the theological bloodline gets watered down, the Presbyterian hands shall remain folded. It is in our blood. Think you have a real clapper? As much as I commend your optimism, just watch them. You’ll see.