I travel a lot. With two children living at least 600 miles away and a husband with a flexible work schedule, I am often away from home. It has given me the opportunity to attend worship services in a variety of settings.
My home church is what some would consider a mega-church, housed in a reclaimed shopping mall. The worship service my husband and I attend is contemporary. We spend many weekends at the beach about an hour away from our hometown. When we are there, we attend a small, casual island church. It is not unusual to see men in shorts and women in sundresses. Our son’s church in Nashville meets in a refurbished warehouse space with strings of lights . . . a real urban feel. The congregation is full of young professionals and college students. On a recent visit, there were only about 10 other people in our age bracket. Our daughter attends a community church that meets in a 100 year-old sanctuary that was previously a traditionally African American church. If you saw the movie Woodlawn, you saw an interior shot of that church. Sometimes, if we are traveling, we will watch our home church service online.
I had two particularly unique worship experiences this year. My friend and I attended Mass in a historic basilica in Asheville, NC on Palm Sunday. It was beautiful; full of ritual and tradition. In early December, I attended a church service in Kamonkali, Uganda. The sanctuary was sparse, filled with plastic chairs. The service was crowded, loud and colorful. I did not understand all of the words to the songs but my heart knew. And there was a gentleman who clapped his hands so loud that it sounded like a slapstick from the percussion section of an orchestra. That little church in Africa was not any less beautiful than the basilica in Asheville.
I experienced a wide variety of worship experiences in 2015, from very high, formal church to much more casual services. The music ranged from pipe organs, to praise bands. I stood, knelt, clapped and lifted my hands. I wore dresses, capris and even pajamas when I watched online. With all of these variations, there was one thing in common. I worshipped the Lord and I felt His presence. The setting did not matter. The thing that mattered was that I was seeking the Lord and worshipping him with fellow believers.
I am looking forward to the coming year. I’m not sure where I will attend worship services other than my home church or island church but I know that if I am with God’s people, He will be there. I would encourage you to do the same. It would be a marvelous New Year’s resolution.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them.”
Where is the most unique place you have attended a worship service?