Several years ago, when praying at church I was overly concerned about the fractionation of the Christian religion into so many segments, big and small that it seemed to diminish the power and glory that could and should be the most powerful force on the Earth. So my prayer was for some sort of unification of sects and denominations, hoping in my small way of bringing about some sort of Christian unity that would fully unleash the power and love of our Savior here on Earth.
I have begun to understand not only the error, but the hubris of my thoughts. As you may or may not know, I have been challenged with some health issues recently. While always trying to be a ‘good Christian’, doing the right thing and worshipping as Jesus would want me to, I came to more fully discover His plan in all of this. And it isn’t the diversity in a service or denomination as much as it is the choice for what is needed right now.
Years ago Theresa raised this question with Rev. Ed Hammer who had a wonderful response. Everyone likes cookies, but some like oatmeal, some like Oreos, some like chocolate chip, and so on. With the fractionation of the Christian church, each of us can pick what it is that we need at a specific point in our life. Some people are comforted following a denomination with a strong creed. Others like a bit more casual take on religion that states “Our creed is that we have no creed.” Under Pastor Hammer’s guidance it is clear that no answer is wrong.
This brings me to the next logical step. Different types of worship services WITHIN an individual church or denomination. Here things become much more personal. Denominational membership many times is passed down generationally. Certainly it does not take much of a look into some of Quincy’s church memberships to see folks changing denominations, but the real point has more to do with what type of service a person wants.
So very recently here in Houston, Texas I found what I needed. I was scheduled for brain surgery on Monday, February 7th. I felt the need to have communion before the surgery and had discovered a little Lutheran Church near Rice University that looked as if it would fit the bill. When Theresa and I stopped in hoping for a private chat, there was no clergy available. I was directed to a Saturday night ‘contemplative’ service.’
WOW! What a service.
It was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. Most of the service was passively sitting in quiet with the only sound being the baptismal font flowing like a fountain. A few brief traditional music selections followed by communion took up most of the rest of the service.
Of course the story does not end there. We returned this Saturday and the service was unbelievably even more Spartan or simple. Once again it was just what the doctor ordered. Our next visit will be on Sunday morning which will be a much more celebratory service. They have a fully restored bank of organ pipes and have positioned themselves as a venue for high end music. Being positioned next to a university, we fully expect the service to be beyond grand.
Rock type music, not so much, but if that’s what they do we will fully embrace it. I am just looking for something a bit more celebratory because that is where I am right now.
So thank you to Pastor Rodriquez at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, who by the way offered to meet us at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of January 9th (since no clergy visits are allowed in the hospital due to COVID concerns) for a final blessing before surgery for someone who is not even a member of his church. I’m not even sure how close he lives to the hospital. This is Houston after all, not Quincy.
So thanks for having a full selection of cookies at your church. Sometimes a person needs an Oreo, and sometimes it is a chocolate chip cookie. I think the key is for churches and pastors to be flexible in their worship styles. Variety truly is a blessing to His kingdom, not the threat to Christian unity that I had originally speculated.