I wrote yesterday about resuming my church journey, which I did this past Sunday by visiting Southwood Presbyterian Church.
Southwood was a remainder from the first round of the journey; I always assumed I would go there, but never did before settling down at Sojourn. But now I have.
I went to their second service, which was their informal service, showing that all things are relative — their informal service was still more formal than anything we do at Sojourn. I’m planning on going back Sunday and experiencing the formal service, but, so help me, I am not wearing a tie. Really wish I could just wait until the weather is more conducive to a jacket. But, here am I, Lord, right?
The service was about “Reconciling Relationships,” and particularly about repairing things after you’ve been wronged by a brother. My Journey Group lesson four days earlier had been about Forgiveness, and touched on some of the same things. To be honest, neither lesson really challenged me. There’s no arrogance in me saying I don’t struggle with letting go of grievances, rather, I’m too far the opposite direction; it’s not hard for me to forgive, but it’s too easy for me to let myself be hurt.
That happened several times during my last journey, however — I would attend a church for the first time, and the sermon would be on a subject that’s familiar to me or that I’d studied recently, which allows me to focus more on the context than the content. On a typical Sunday, I’ll fill a page of my notebook with sermon notes. On a first or second visit to a church, there may be a few lines about the sermon, and much more about the church itself. That was definitely the case Sunday.
I’ll spare the technical stuff — stage set-up, etc. I will note that while I was there it was almost the first time I’d been in a pew all year. The last time I was in a church pew was back in December when I went to a Christmas event at Whitesburg. I say “almost,” because, technically, I sat in a pew last month at the Mother Church of Country Music — the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The fact that was the only time I’d sat in a pew this year seems somehow appropriate.
There was an interesting comment made early in the service — “Many of you are here because, whether you recognize it or not, someone prayed for you.” I wondered if that was true for me. Certainly, I doubt anyone prayed for me to be at Southwood specifically, but even so …
I also jotted down — “I do not ask to see the way my feet will have to tread” from one of the songs we sang. ‘Cause, you know, I totally do. Constantly. It’s hard for me to not.
The best part was taking communion, which, as I’ve written before, is a subject that’s of particular interest to me. I’d never observed communion in quite this way before, sort of a crossover between a Baptist and Catholic approach. It was open, so I was able to participate (and the guidelines and process were included in their awesome-looking bulletin, which I thought was great). Everyone went up front, and received a small cup and a morsel of bread from someone, who said “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, given because He loves you so much. Do this in remembrance of Him.” I really liked the way it was done, for a lot of reasons.
OK, enough rambling. That was my Sunday.