I have just returned from two weeks visiting family in Texas and Louisiana. It was trip that went by fast because everyday we were somewhere different. Perhaps you are familiar with these types of vacations that are more exhausting than relaxing. Everyday was a time to play “catch up” with someone. Say goodbyes and pray it wouldn’t be so long till the next time we could sit down with a cup of coffee, beer, etc. Thankfully many of us are on Facebook so we can keep in touch there.
One interesting moment for my household is when we are on vacation and our time away will include a Sunday. If we’re on vacation on the Lord’s Day do we just not go to church? Do we go to a church with different theology? How different can it be? The Lord’s Day in wife’s family was always a day to attend church even if they were on vacation. That was not the case for me when I grew up. I appreciated that my wife’s dad set that example for his children and I wanted to leave my children with that memory as well. So far, every time we have been on vacation, we have found a way to attend a service on the Lord’s Day
Every time there are different challenges to finding a location to worship. The big question we ask each other is “Where do we go?” I knew we would be in a small town in Louisiana on one of the Sundays, with no vehicle. And in this small town (I think there are literally 3 street lights) there were limited options. My options were: Roman Catholic, Baptist (not certain on the affiliation), Methodist, PCUSA, Pentecostal, and Spanish-Pentecostal. Where would you go? Why?
I ended up selecting the PCUSA congregation. The short version of my decision-making process could be summed up with this: trusting the liturgy. I’m fairly confident that the Baptist congregation in this small town, probably shared more of my social values. And that was really the only one I was considering. But at the end of the process I had to trust the liturgical practice of the denomination. I also had to hope it was still in place. I understand that the PCUSA as a denomination has spun out of control and off into something that doesn’t even resemble it’s historical roots. However, I figured (prayed) a congregation of the PCUSA, in the middle of the south, would not be one of those rank liberal congregations leading the way.
We ended up at the small presbyterian church in the middle of rural Louisiana and thank God we were right. The liturgy had a call to worship, confession of sin, assurance of pardon, reciting the Nicene creed, a sermon, the Lord’s Prayer, and benediction. The sermon wasn’t great. It was actually pretty terrible. But I’m not writing to review the sermon, I want to share what we did when we had a tough decision on where to worship. The service had God’s Word read aloud, we gathered with the communion of the saints and we were reminded of something bigger than ourselves in the work of Christ through the announcement of the Gospel.