Sunday, May 28, 2006

In Search of Jesus part 4

We went to a presbyterian church this morning. We ran a little late and had to park a couple of blocks away missing the first 15-20 minutes of the service. It's been a while since I've been inside a traditionally designed sanctuary. I was surprised at how the stained glass and bronze memorial plaques had an impact on me. Something connected within me when I saw the colorful art of the large stained glass windows adoring the walls of the church. The choir did a really good job with the anthem. I don't know who the composer was but the only lyrics were "Alleluia." And no, it was not the Hallelujah Chorus!

When the announcements (aka. inimations) were made by one of the ministers (pastors), he seemed really nervous. Though he seemed to have a script (list), it seemed like he really didn't know what to say about the church members he was talking about. I think this minister just came on board and didn't know the congregation very well.

After the announcements, the minister called a "lay person" up front to read some passages of the Bible from the New Testament. She did a pretty good job. I remember thinking how much I appreciate the public reading of the Word of God. I thought it odd to think that since I really am not much of a traditionalist.

When it was time for the sermon, I was surprised to find out that it was the same minister who gave the announcements that was going to give the sermon! He started out very promising by getting right into the passage (Ephesians 1). I thought that he was going to do an exposition on that passage of Paul's epistle. But then everything fell apart. I tried really hard to listen but I could not comprehend what he was saying! It seemed to me that each sentence he spoke was not connected to the previous one nor to the sentence to follow. And I could not figure out what he was driving at. What was he trying to communicate to the congregation? It really was a mystery to me as he seemed to end abruptly as well.

Well, when I do these critiques and share my observations, it is with the perspective of a lost/unregenerate person. And I must say that I came away just confused. I am looking for the answer to these 3 questions when I visit churches:

1. Who is Jesus to this church?
2. What is the gospel according to this church?
3. What is the mission of this church to the city/nation/world?

I'm sad to say that I could not find the answer to these questions in this church experience. So for about 60 minutes this morning, nothing was said about Jesus, the gospel, or the church's mission to the world. I feel sorry for the people who took the time to dress up and attend this service.

Not wanting to end this on a sour note, I must say that the closing hymn was awesome. Rejoice the Lord is King is one of my favorite hymns. I had a tear in my eye when we sang the last stanza.

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