Another Sunday — Southwood II

This entry is part of my series on my on-going “church journey” that I’ll be documenting as it takes place. You can read about other visits with the “journey” tag.

I returned this week to Southwood Presbyterian. My original plan had been to go back to Southwood and visit the formal service this time, versus the informal of last time, but breakfast plans with a Sojourn friend meant that I ended up at the informal service again. (Part of this journey is that it has to be rather whimsical; I find that being flexible to things like that makes me end up where I’m supposed to be.)

My actual sermon notes are fairly scattered and personal, so I’ll stick here mainly to the logistical stuff:

When I came in, scattered throughout the pews were what looked like towels or possibly shawls. I was terribly intrigued. I had never seen this before, and had no idea what they might be used for, some sort of weird Presbyterian rite that I had never heard of. I was one of the first people in the sanctuary, and was concerned with whether I should be doing something. Should I sit near one? Away from one? Was I supposed to do something with it? I texted a Presbyterian friend, but, unfortunately, didn’t get a response until too late. Long story slightly shorter, I was terribly disappointed there were there because it was cold in the sanctuary, and people could use them to cover up. An amusing encapsulation of the journey — every congregation, every denomination has its own unique traits and traditions. But some things are just universal.

There was no observation of communion this week as there was last time I was there. For some reason, the fact that they did it the first week I was there made me assume it was a weekly thing, rather than me just being “lucky” enough to come the week they did, despite the fact that’s happened at other churches I’ve visited. I’m increasingly realizing I enjoy weekly communion. If I were starting a church, communion would be observed weekly, and the elements would be received separately and individually (versus intinction or communal cups).

New this time from the last was a period of confession of sin. There was a paragraph in the bulletin labeled “Public Confession” that everyone read aloud in unison, followed by a silent period in which we were to confess our sins to God. An interesting practice. To be honest, this is an area I need to give more study to. As I understand it, there is instruction to confess sins to the body, but I really don’t know what we are supposed to do.

There was a guest preacher, and during the service when references were made to “preaching,” the term “opening God’s Word for us” was used. “So-and-so is there to open God’s Word for us” today. And interesting phrasing. Don’t know if it’s use was random or coincidence, but it was an intriguing way of putting it.

I still feel like I need to go to the formal service; and perhaps will do that next week.

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