I’m thinking I should be doing this for Ship of Fools, where people can find it, and I can at least be anonymous.
St. Paul’s is a biggish church that has been around 82 years, with a simple bright sanctuary. Right now, they have an interim pastor. And their organist retired after over 50 years of service, so there was no organ. This should be taken into account when I report on what happened, as opposed to what could happen. The basics are there, and this could be a different place in a year or so.
We got there late because of snow and being slightly lost, so we missed the first hymn and were into the 2nd, which was this hideous African call-and-response thing. The singing was lackluster, which may have had to do with the lack of organ, but was more likely because the hymn was boring.
The liturgy had a lot of congregational chanting, which is I think a good thing, and was even more classical in design than at the Missouri Synod church we visited. The other hymns (with one exception) were about as bad as the first. After the closing hymn, another African call-and-response piece, the pastor said, “We have to work on that one a little.” No, you have to pick better hymns. I don’t know if this necessarily shows a multi-culti obsession from anyone besides Augsburg Fortress, who printed the hymnal. They could have been chosen because it was thought they would work better with minimal accompaniment (the music director was using a digital keyboard). I am really glad that African Christians have music in their own style, and I’ll bet they have trouble with German chorales. Given that I saw nobody in the church whose contact with African genetics was any closer than Lucy, and that the Lutheran church is caretaker of the 2nd greatest musical heritage in Christendom (I expect Anglicans and Orthodox to challenge me on that), it would have been “meet and right” to put it on display.
The sermon was a somewhat diffuse commentary on the 3 readings. The pastor was obviously Very Excited About Obama, and drew a parallel between America pre-Obama and Israel pre-Samuel. I think Israel post-Solomon might be the better comparison, but hey, at least we’re agreed it isn’t the Babylonian Captivity yet. And we are to pray for him, which has been standard procedure in the church since time immemorial (maybe they didn’t pray much for the more rabid Roman emperors). If God could turn Saul of Tarsus, then it’s entirely possible that Obama could become a practitioner of limited government. He also stressed evangelism (in the context of the Gospel reading) and its relationship to membership at St. Paul’s; with 70 people at church on the 11th and a 17% budgetary shortfall, this was not an academic exercise.
The choir sang an offertory anthem, which was poor music poorly performed. Really good music is practically indestructible. Worse, the congregation was involved in general conversation all through it, which struck me as extremely rude and distracting. Real bread (not wafers) was used for communion (which I still don’t feel quite right about taking, until I get some doctrinal clarity).
Afterwards, there was a fete in the basement for the organist’s retirement, and we went. And we were given the Visitor Rush. We’re used to this by now. And yes, they need me. But you know, every church is needy, and it would be novel for somebody to try to sell me membership in their church on the basis of what the church could do for me…you know, like everything else in this world is sold? (and yes, service is something we need to do, so they could fulfill that need.) . But, lacking that, I’d say Pam and Janis and others did a really good job. We got got presented with a jar of bean soup makings, which was really sweet. They were fine friendly folks, not afraid to tell us about the church in Mantua, so not afraid of competition. We’ll probably come back at some point.