This morning I attended a traditional worship service in Chicago with some good friends.
Upon entering the sanctuary I was greeted with an 11-piece french horn ensemble playing two numbers with booming, moving parts.
Pastors were in robes. Long passages of scripture were read (well). And the robed choir sang a fine piece from sacred literature.
The elderly minister spoke eloquently about religious pluralism, reminding us that the American tendency to dismiss religious differences is actually a devaluation of each faith tradition. “We do Jews no favor,” he said, “when we tell them that the distinctives of their faith don’t matter. Of course they matter.”
The implication: Actual beliefs of individual religions need to be taken seriously, not glossed over for the sake of false harmony.
I sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” with my eyes closed, from memory, with the horns lifting the fourth and final verse into flight: “That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them abideth . . .”
I’ve been on the road a lot lately, and I miss my church. Grace Church Roseville is contemporary and relevant. People are meeting Jesus there and learning to love him. Families are being transformed.
But today in Chicago God touched my heart through a different style, a different flavor, a different approach to things.
Question: Are you and I flexible enough to appreciate both old and new? Traditional and contemporary?