As I said, it's very traditional. Huge choir for a small church, and a good choir. A fabulous organist and a great pianist. The pastors wear robes and they follow the liturgical calendar, which is very unusual for a Baptist church. They sing hymns -- some of them very new hymns, but still always hymns. No "praise band" here.
I'm finding that my worship is very different in this setting. And I'm enjoying it right now.
There are a few times in the service when the musicians are just playing instrumental music for meditation or preparing your hearts. And I've started actually trying to use those musical interludes for that purpose, rather than looking through the bulletin or around at fellow worshippers. It's kind of nice to see how much more readily you hear the voice of God when you're intentionally making a point of listening for it, rather than expecting it to knock you over the head to get your attention.
I've often caught myself thinking of my parents during service (the woman in the choir with my mother's hairdo often prompts that). My parents, and others from their generation. And then I think of other generations before that. Many, many generations of believers who all sang hymns like this, sat in services like this, prayed to God like this, heard the Word like this . . . I find myself feeling a connection with Christians throughout history. I can't say I've ever felt that kind of connection in a contemporary service.
And there's another difference -- one that I'm not sure has anything to do with this particular church or this type of service. I suddenly realize that in recent years, I've been so very aware of the nominal Christians in my churches. Not just the "seekers", the people who are not sure about their faith who are attending church to learn more. But the people who claim to be believers but who are clearly not serious about it, to the point that one has to wonder if they are genuinely "saved" at all.
At least I always wondered if they were. And grieved over it. I've felt so sad and burdened over the lukewarm state of the church for the past couple decades, that sometimes even going to church at all depressed me.
I suppose I still feel that way some, but I don't necessarily feel that way in church services now. And again, I don't know that it necessarily has anything to do with this church. I'm sure there are just as many nominal believers sitting in these pews as there are in any church in America today. But I'm not thinking about them. I'm not worried about them.
Maybe it's because I'm no longer on the "worship team" planning the services, so my focus is less on the congregation and more on my own meeting with God. Maybe it's just a spiritual stage I'm going through, a mini-hilltop experience. I don't know.
But I like it. I like leaving church service and feeling sufficiently fed. Feeling like I'm not alone in my walk. Feeling like I and many others -- here and in other places, now and in other times -- have met with God and communed. Not just looked at Him, or heard about Him, or played with Him. Communed.
Yeah, I like that. I hope this keeps up.