My husband and I started attending Burlington Presbyterian Church the Sunday after we got back from our honeymoon, back in 2000. We were members by that winter, and I think my husband got conscripted to session, er, nominated to the high honor of monthly meetings within a year. (I ended up serving on Deacons.) Since then, we’ve gone pretty much every Sunday that we weren’t travelling, with a very few sleeping-in exceptions. The only other church we ever go to is the church I grew up in, when we visit my parents.
I love my church. I love the people. I love the pastor. I’ve been to the baptism of most of the cute kids on the front steps during Word for Children. Coffee hour ranges between good and excellent on a consistent basis.
But this last weekend, my brother was preaching at the church he’s interning at: Fourth Presbyterian in Dorchester. So we upended our familiar Sunday routine and took 93 south through the city to watch him.
What an interesting experience. I hadn’t realized how used I was to the way we do things. For example, the order of worship was different. They do all their announcements and prayers and concerns in the beginning. I actually really liked that — once the worship part started it was all worship. The music was great — they did interstices between parts of the service, and even played quietly during some of the prayers and readings. They did a fantastic job of integrating their children into their service. And the preacher was great too. (Heh.)
I also really liked the feeling of connectedness. One of the big reasons to be Presbyterian, instead of something else, is that we are tied through a connection and community to each other. Fourth and Burlington belong to the same Presbytery. I’d met several of the people at previous Presbytery meetings — in fact our September meeting will be held there. I felt a bit like an ambassador between two distant colonies of the same home country. It was all familiar but distinctly different, as well. And I felt just a touch of that church universal to which we aspire.
I love my church dearly. I have no desire to worship somewhere else week in and week out. But this makes me wonder if it might not be a blessing to me and to my service to BPC to periodically see how it’s done other places, and come back with new ideas and energy. I also think it is a joy to create connections between the communities. Matthew’s sermon was on the strength that we gain from working together, instead of alone. He’s right. That goes for churches as well as people.