I woke up blissfully late this morning with the cool northern Michigan air blowing softly across my bed. I love vacation. No wakeup alarms. No schedule. No plans. Just a strong cup of coffee and some spiritual reading.
Of course, I remember that it’s Sunday. But it’s so hard to go to church on vacation. It’s bound to be awkward and uninspiring. We could just stay here and listen to a sermon on line. Plus, how many mornings can we take it slow like this?
I pick up my Daily Devotions by Tim and Kathy Keller to break the silence of a good night’s sleep. I figure, God understands.
But maybe not.
The devotion is based on Psalm 81 where the worship of God is commanded in a vigorous manner. “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!” The Kellers expound on the text, explaining that skillful music can turn our hearts to God and reminding us that we are commanded to meet regularly for public worship, throwing in the Hebrews exhortation from chapter 10.
Hmm. I think God might be talking to me. But not really what I wanted to hear today.
We saw a little country church on our way into town, so we are in the car by 10:20. But when we get there, we discover that the worship service is being held today in some local park. My cell phone has no connectivity up here, so we have no idea where that might be. Then my husband remembers that there is another church several miles down the road.
Only it is a part of some larger liberal denomination. Darn.
I half-jokingly tell the kids to just not listen to the sermon.
My husband gives me his Lutheran look. Which is to say he does not agree with my last statement. (For all their talk on grace, Lutherans are pretty much sticklers when it comes to church attendance. Bad sermon or not.)
“Liberals can have good things to say, Priscilla….”
“Yes, kids. So true,” I hastily agree. “Anyway, the hymns will be good and there will be Bible readings,” I say, adding with a teasing smile that we should at least hold off on giving any offering until we know if the doctrine is sound.
When we arrive at this picturesque white New England-looking church, we realize that there is hardly any room. We end up sitting on folding chairs in the doorway. It is apparently a morning of special music which draws a crowd.
I look around and surprisingly note that most people are really dressed for church, pearls and suits. My family is in shorts. But no one seems to mind.
The service is mainly a concert of sacred music, vocal and instrumental. Many classic hymns are sung so beautifully I can hardly believe it! Breathtaking. Some older ladies are dabbing their eyes. My heart is turned to God.
Not sure about their theology, but they certainly acknowledge the beauty of these classic, content-rich Christian songs. The congregation is led in a couple traditional hymns of praise. I am worshipping.
Ironically, there is no sermon on this special music day. Ordinarily, this would trouble me. But today I smile. Okay, Lord. You have a sense of humor. And no offering either. Unbelievable.
Afterward, they serve lemonade and pastries. Really good ones. These Presbyterians!
And a lady I have never seen before and will probably never see again rushes up to me and engages me in conversation for fifteen minutes like we were besties! Meanwhile, my kids get more pastries.
We pull away from the church and I shake my head knowingly. God has spoken. And at least this once, I listened.
“Sing for joy to God, our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre. Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival; this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.”