I've taken a couple of Sundays off from the Episcopal Church which I usually attend. I did this so that I could re-connect with three wonderful young families who, for good reasons, have moved away from my local Episcopal Church. I miss these families and their children. It has been a joy and privilege to re-connect with them.
Week One saw me in a Congregational (U.C.C.) Church. It was so good to see S and A, with their sons G and D.
But the service left me cold. It was an example of ultra-liberal worship in which the adoration of God and the call to conversion to the way of Jesus Christ was (for me) masked by vacuous and so called inclusive language. I am all in favour of such language (truly) until and unless it confuses the Holy God with pseudo psychotherapy.
The Pastor preached extemporaneously. The ability to do that is utterly rare. It is an ability which has by-passed this Pastor. His sermon rambled, not from pillar to post, but from nowhere to nowhere. He had the annoying habit of ending every forth or fifth sentence with the word "right".
Week Two (today) saw me at a Presbyterian Church, there to renew and enjoy my friendships with G and C (and their children A and S), and with S and S (and their children S and S). (Yes the Dad and Mom and their two children in this family each have first names which begin with "S").
This Presbyterian Church sits on a 20 acre campus (can you believe that!.) The Church has a million and one programmes (less one or two), and (I think) five services each Sunday.
My friends and I were at the 9:00 a.m. so-called "Traditional Service". This service was marked with the historic Presbyterian traditions of reserve and solemnity. The sermon was well crafted and well delivered. The entire service emphasised that the primary reason for being a Christian is to follow Jesus Christ.
If I were not ( for my sins) a dyed in the wool Anglican/Episcopalian I might make this my Church home.
(My four adult friends and I loved being together. As we hung out for a bit after service they asked me if I wished to join one of the after service classes. I declined graciously even after the two women told me that I could attend a class with the guys, at which we would not have to talk about our feelings.
I was tempted for a wee moment and said "but of course, G, S, and I could sit at the back and cut up".
One of the wives countered with "oh no Michael, you would be the man in the back row who asked a difficult and awkward question". We all laughed. They know me all too well.
I will remember one great thing about this Church. When I arrived at the huge campus I first entered the building which is the site of a 9:00 a.m. "Contemporary Service". I realised my mistake and asked one of the Ushers where I might find the "Traditional Service". She did not me directions. Instead she said "come with me and I will show you the way". She walked me through the Campus to the place I needed to be. That was first class hospitality. It expressed a genuine welcome.
Meanwhile, up in Boston on Saturday 13th they were making a new Bishop for the Diocese of Massachusetts. He is a good man named Alan Gates. I knew him years ago when he was the Rector at Trinity Church in Ware, MA.
For complicated ecclesiastical reasons he is now my Bishop, even though I live in Florida. I wish him well.
I could have/should have taken a trip to Boston for the service, but I decided not to spend more than a few dollars for the air-trip and hotels etc.
The web has been filled with photo's of the service. Dyed in the wool Anglican/Episcopalian that I am, I think that all the Bishops (27 of them) who were at the service look a bit silly in their fancy robes and pointy hats. (I used to like this stuff) ( Now I am so bad!)