Every now and then it’s good to come home, spiritually speaking, to the 10:45 AM service on Sunday. It’s the service where I learned most of my doctrinal chops. 8:30 AM is way too early for me to focus and the 11:00 AM modern beat musik service is too clangy for my sensitive synapses.
Our hymns were ably played by Paul and ably sung by most of us. “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart”, the final Communion song was difficult to sing. My vocal chords didn’t have a setting for that song so I just mouthed the words as a prayer. Amen. Our other songs were
“Glorious Things of You Are Spoken” (processional)
“I Love to Tell The Story” (sermon)
“Spread the Reign of God The Lord” (offering)
“Feed Us Now” (communion)
“Christ the Eternal Lord” (communion)
“Sent Forth by God’s Blessings” (recessional). This hymn is easy and fun to sing, so much so it fools an ordinary singer like me to believe I have a place in an earthly choir.
We confessed our sins and they were soon forgotten by God. That’s a good thing. We had responsive Scripture at the beginning and end of the service. What is “responsive Scripture” you ask? Usually in the introit, the responsive early in the service, it centers around the psalms. The pastor says the first part of a psalm and the congregation finishes it. An example from Psalm 23 would be
Pastor: The Lord is my shepherd
Congregation: I shall not be in want
Later in the service is a responsive reading that uses Scripture not from the psalms. In either case the topics of these readings are congruent with the theme of the service/sermon. Why do we do responsive readings? It’s not to fill time but rather to help us learn scripture. If you don’t read the Bible at home you can surely read it at church. Because …
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Pastor Sattler preached about the value of churches interacting with surrounding communities. A question he asked was,
“If Holy Cross disappeared, would the neighborhood notice?”
Does our or any church have any positive influence with its neighbors? Holy Cross operates a school, grades K-8. Many neighbors send their children to Holy Cross for a good education and religious study. We operate a food pantry in Lawrence Township, so that’s gotta be good. We have a comfort dog, Naomi, who visits schools, nursing homes and hospices to bring a friendly wag to people who need a soft distraction from issues. We collect clothes and canned food for seminary students in the holy city, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The list continues with a variety of missions geared toward those nearby as well as overseas. How much does Holy Cross affect its neighbors? It certainly would be hard to quantify but it certainly is noticed by the people it helps. It might be the difference between eating enough for dinner or staying hungry. It might be the difference between having a hound to hold for a few minutes or feeling miserable, lost, or old and in the way. Here, read this:
Matthew 25: 34-40
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Even if you don’t like to attend church, maybe because its full of jerks, hypocrites, and gossips and you want to rub something in their faces, just do what Jesus said in those six verses. Trust me, churches rarely do as much as they can and if they do they never do it right. If you love your neighbor as yourself you will be doing His will.
God desires mercy, not sacrifice.