When I travel, I find it interesting to worship with other communities of faith. This summer, I had the opportunity to spend time on a Sunday morning with a congregation in a part of the world I visit from time to time. From past experience I know the people to be friendly, enthusiastic, and welcoming. I have generally always appreciated the worship and the pastoral leadership. The sanctuary is well-designed and comfortable, with a beautiful view of a nearby mountain. I anticipated that I would worship happily.
My expectations were mostly met. I especially enjoyed the wide-eyed child who was sitting in front of me. The community was obviously excited about their special guest preacher. The quality of hospitality, liturgy, and music was high. The one thing that made me feel disoriented and confused was the completed absence of Bibles and hymnals among the chairs where the worshippers sit. As I remember it, there used to be Bibles! This time, the passage for the day was printed in the Order of Service. The racks that once held the familiar book form of the scriptures were empty.
When asked, someone was kind enough to eventually find and offer a Bible for use during the service. I was appreciative of the effort, and I wondered: what is the rationale here? Are they hoping people will bring their own Bibles? Are they trying to keep things simple so that people don’t have to keep opening and closing different books? Have they ordered all new copies of the Bible which won’t be here until next week? It remains a mystery for me to puzzle, and it highlights one of the familiar aspects of travel: it’s great to go off and have an adventure AND it’s great to come home again.
Here at home (RHUMC), I’m glad to be among warm and welcoming people who value and support Bible access and availability, as well as Bible study, in clear and visible ways. I like it that you have the option of opening the scriptures to follow along while the liturgist reads the text; that you can see what comes before or after our passage for the day; that you can peruse another part of the Bible if something said by the preacher reminds you of a familiar phrase or favorite quote. I like it that some of you meet each Sunday in the Aldersgate Room after you worship for further exploration and discussion of the Bible. I like it that from time to time you take advantage of the opportunity to participate in a short term Bible study that might happen during the week. The world is full of interesting variety AND it’s always good to come home to what we know and love.
I hope you have enjoyed your summer and encountered some interesting puzzles of your own. Now that September has come, I would be glad for you join in the three week study and conversation on “Being Disciples” (Wednesday evenings, Sept. 13, 20, and 27 or Thursday mornings Sept. 14, 21, and 28). We can compare experiences and encourage one another!
Até logo (which is Portuguese for “See you soon!”),