I may start going to church again

farewell to big red

I can be very critical, especially about the church.

I seldom like the sermon. I can be picky about the music. Frankly, I can (and do) find fault with just about everything, even with the cookies at coffee hour. (When was the last time you had a really good cookie at a church coffee hour? Right, my point exactly.)

When people talk about spending eternity singing in the heavenly choir, I hate to admit it, but I don’t look forward to it. I hope it’s okay for me to admit that. My point is that I hope worship in heaven is a lot better than it usually is down here.

But worship today was a happy exception.

A friend invited me to go with him today – this, by the way, is how something like 90 percent of first-time visitors come to church – and I loved every minute of it. From the greeting before I even set foot in the building, to the singing, to the prayer of confession (no kidding), to the message, to communion. I could do it all again next week, except that I don’t live around here.

What was it? I don’t know. I am trying to put my finger on it. Part of it was that no one tried very hard. What I mean is that worship wasn’t a show. Pastors and worship leaders were real, authentic, genuine – and that goes a long way.

Another part of it, I think, was the blend of old and new. The people were given responses that date to the earliest days of the church, and then there were elements that might have been written yesterday. I felt connected to believers of all times and places, but I also had the sense that the faith was being newly expressed.

There was more, of course, but I realized, with some relief, that it doesn’t take much. I’m not that hard to please. I just like to know that I was in the presence of God.

(Photo: One last look at Big Red until next year.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.


10 Responses to I may start going to church again

  1. Fred Anderson August 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    You really need to come try the freshly baked cookies at our coffee hour!
    It has not only improved the attendance of children in worship, but actually gotten people looking forward to fellowship hour.

    • Doug August 24, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Please send me some of those cookies, Fred!

  2. Sue August 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Sounds much like our morning at First Pres. It was a great morning and the choir sounded especially good.

    • Doug August 24, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      Sounds wonderful, Sue.

  3. Bettina August 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Please tell me where you went to church! I have to worship there too! I recognize myself so much in what you write. Probably it’s also a bit of a “professional disorder”. As a pastor, I can’t help myself but analyze every part of the worship I attend to, and of course, there’s always something that could have been made or said better…

    • Doug August 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Lots of disorders here, I’m afraid, professional and otherwise. When I have such high expectations for myself, I can’t quite believe it when others don’t for themselves. As for this very nice church, which really does exist, I’ll just say it’s on the wrong continent for you. Sorry.

  4. Jürg U. Kessler August 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    I did write a comment but it got lost, and I can’t not write it once more.
    Doug, you should come to our church. The Cookies and other goodies at coffee hour are good (the other day there was some cheese). We have an excellent Senior Pastor and an excellent Associate Pastor. They both can teach and preach and are friendly and caring as well. We sing good Songs loudly. Today the evening worship band sang in the morning, a good contrast to “a mighty fortress is our God”. You might be greeted at the door and even officially welcomed at the Service as a Newcomer. Sometimes we hear the Aaronic Blessing at the end and sometime the Gaeic one. Doug, if you happen to come to Zurich, let me know and I’ll take you along!! You won’t regret it and I bet you’ll be back.
    Greetings from Switzerland

    • Doug August 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Miss you Jürg! I’m ready to come home and go to a wonderful church next Sunday.

  5. Karen Parkinson August 26, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    I know a church between Michigan and Illinois where you can hear a Great Sermon, enjoy delicious cookies, and meet wonderful people. With appreciation to you for making it possible for me to experience. Karen Parkinson, Wheaton, IL

    • Doug August 26, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      I know the church too, Karen. If I vacationed a little closer, I would have gone. And now that I know about the cookies, who knows? Not sure what I did to make it possible for you. You raised a bright and talented daughter! I’m glad she’s a Presbyterian pastor.