13 August 2006

This morning's service

Now that I'm graduated and settled down, I need to find a new church home. So I've been church-shopping with a friend this summer. We're different denominations, but we're both Protestant and not all that picky about which denomination we attend as long as the preachin' and singin' are good. This morning is my friend's last Sunday here before she heads back to school, so she decided to go to her denomination's church, and I went off to try out a new church (in my denomination) by my lonesome.

I really enjoyed the service. I had a bad feeling at first when I saw the pastors and choir weren't wearing the traditional robes, because I hate contemporary worship, and dislike the loosening of attire restrictions I've been seeing in the various churches I've visited. I guess I see where the churches are coming from: if butts are in the pews, does it really matter what's covering 'em? But at the same time, I think it's disrespectful to not dress properly for church. The pastors were wearing suits, so that's ok, but I saw a couple people in the congregation wearing jeans or even shorts, and they weren't all young, either. (Jeans don't bother me that much if they are clean, well-tailored, and accompanied by appropriate shirts and shoes. But shorts? In a church? Dude, not cool.) So that gave me a bad feeling.

But we started out with "Standing on the Promises," a hymn I like that I hadn't heard in a while, and that pleased me. We then followed that up with an excellent affirmation of faith and the Gloria Patri. During the offertory, four guys from the choir sang a quartet, which I really enjoyed, and then we sang the Doxology I like best and "Trust and Obey," another hymn I like that my school church hadn't used in a while.

(My parents' church sings a goofy Doxology that I don't like, and they say the Lord's Prayer with different words, which confuses me. I already had enough trouble switching from German to English (long story); I don't need people trying to get me to switch to different words. Similarly, they have been doing a series of sermons on the 23rd Psalm, so they've asked the congregation to say it together at each service; but their translation isn't the one I know by heart. My parents' church also doesn't do affirmations of faith or the Gloria Patri. All in all, a very unsatisfying spiritual experience over there.)

The sermon was pretty good. It was about putting your failures of the past behind you and continuing to strive toward the goal of being like Christ. The pastor's key points were that failures of the past can imprison us through failure to forgive (yourself as well as others) and feelings of regret; that the failures of the past can rob us of hope because they can cause us to surrender to the status quo and become resentful; and that we should forget the past (he didn't mean "forget" so much as "stop punishing yourself for") and press on to the goal. I'd actually been thinking along these lines lately, because I never forgive myself for the various bad stuff I do, and I'm not particularly good at forgiving others, either. So, that fact and the giant hunk o' gold on the pastor's right hand were clues that I was in the right place. (In Texas, a giant hunk of gold on someone's right hand is almost always an Aggie ring.)

We finished up with "Here I Am, Lord," which is one of my favorite hymns because the first time I heard it was during the same service as a truly memorable sermon, and it was closely linked to the message of that sermon. (That hymn will also play a part in the book that's been fermenting in my head for a couple years. I think I'm going to let it stew a little longer, but I'm getting close to putting pen on paper.)

So, all in all, a pleasant experience, and I'll go back next week, and quite possibly join that church. Which makes me happy, because I've been looking for a couple months, and it's frustrating to not get food for your spirit.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuddy duddy.

I recommend Frisbyterian. They believe that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down.


*goes to practice for Sunday with my distortion pedal*

d in t

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

So, all in all, a pleasant experience

Good. But "worship" is not just a Sunday morning show for our entertainment.

When we talk about a Sunday morning "service," many people seem to think this refers only to God's service to us.

That's partially true, as God serves us with His Word and the Sacraments. But we dare not forget that "worship" refers also to our service to God. It is a means by which we venerate and exalt Him, and this has nothing to do with the entertainment value of the ritual for us.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

Michael, that's exactly my point. When I don't have decent music, or an affirmation of faith, or the Gloria Patri, or a proper confession and pardon prior to communion, I don't feel that I've attended a service of worship.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Retired Geezer said...

Yeah that forgiveness thing is pretty important.
I remember a pastor saying that unforgiveness is like a rubber band stretched between two people. Sooner or later it breaks and both people get hurt.
Also some people won't forgive people who are already dead.
"Sombody hurt me"
"Did you forgive them"?
"They died"
"You mean that a dead person *still* has a hold over you?"

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

or a proper confession and pardon prior to communion

Amen, Mrs. Peel! Hate to sound all Catholic or something, but confession and absolution are a critical element to me as well. Too many Christians overlook the importance of the Office of the Keys. And, as you have discerned, it is especially important just prior to communion.

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I should add, Mrs. Peel, that your attitude regarding worship is putting me in the uncomfortable position of possibly having to to revise my opinion of Methodists. Please advise if their has been some Lutheran influence in your upbringing, which seems likely to me.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

No, but I wasn't brought up in any church at all. I became Christian just before I started college, after reading Mere Christianity and one of those one-year Bibles (I was about halfway through Romans, at the bit about believing in your heart & confessing with your mouth, when I realized I'd done the first and just needed to do the second). Then I chose the Methodist denomination for no real reason other than influence from a couple friends, and the fact that it was the first church I attended that I really liked.

My mom is Presbyterian but also had significant Catholic influence in her youth, and my dad went to a Lutheran church a couple times while growing up. But since before I was born up until about three years ago, neither of them went to church at all, and certainly didn't talk about God or encourage me to believe anything in particular.

Oh, and my sister's Catholic.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

my dad went to a Lutheran church a couple times while growing up

Hah! I knew you were actually Lutheran!

1:13 AM  
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