Lisa and I attended the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church this morning for their traditional worship service. The church has a beautiful, traditional style sanctuary that is famous for having Abraham Lincoln attend the same day he made his famous address to dedicate the National Cemetery. The pew where he sat is marked with a bronze plaque that has become a favorite photo spot of many tourists. I confess (which we did a lot of during the service by the way) that I did not get to see the actual pew where Lincoln sat – but I did see a pew with a plaque commemorating a visit by President Richard Nixon in 1972. But it did not seem to be as famous for some reason.
Funny but true – I was looking around for the Lincoln pew when ol Abe himself walked up and welcomed Lisa and I to his church. I’m not kidding about this – it was Lincoln. Or at least the man must have been one of probably several Lincoln impersonators in the area. But it was kind of startling when he walked up. I almost called him “Mr. President”.
The service was very ‘high church’ with liturgy and organ music. The choir sang from the balcony behind us and it was tempting (but apparently inappropriate) to turn around and see who was doing the solo. But I kept my head facing to the front and sat and just wondered how this tradition ever started and (even more) how it has survived. Very strange. There were different points during the service that Lisa and I were caught off guard with the singing, standing, and responsive readings. At one point I saw out of the corner of my eye a man next to me grab the back of the pew in front of him. At first I thought he was having trouble breathing but then everyone stood and I realized he knew what was coming – Lisa and I did not. Someone needs to expand seeker sensitivity concepts to believer sensitivity. Even people like Lisa and I who have been in church all our lives were confused at times.
Despite all that – Lisa and I enjoyed the service and we both really liked the way natural sunlight brightened up the sanctuary allowing the sunshine through the large side windows. The message was about the ten commandments and the old testament covenant. It was part one of a two-part message. The sermon ended with the promise made by the children of Israel to be obedient. We will have to wait until next week to read the conclusion. Spoiler alert: They were not!
I actually enjoy some of the liturgy that was recited. To remind one another of what we believe is not a bad thing. There seems to be a general acceptance of a lot of bad theology in the church today – almost anything goes as long as it is evangelical in its tone. I like being reminded of our core beliefs.
I am amazed at how God can work through so many styles of worship. We have now worshipped with Nazarenes and Presbyterians and have concluded that both really love the Lord and Southern Baptists don’t necessarily have it wrong or right in regard to theology or worship style. Loving Jesus comes in all shapes and sizes.
And by the way – Lincoln and Nixon sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary (just in case you were wondering)
Steve and Lisa