The minister opened with Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
“He picked that verse for me,” my sister whispered to me.
We were at the Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, where she and her family faithfully attend services each week. She was, of course, referring to Lauren, my beloved 12-year-old niece, who had died tragically just two years ago.
I had brought three of my four sons to visit their aunt, uncle and their seven cousins in Illinois earlier this month. We had many activities planned, not the least of which included church on Sunday.
“Finally! How far away is your church?” Christopher asked as we pulled into the parking lot, nearly 45 minutes after leaving their house. “I can’t believe you drive so far to go to church! Our church is less than two minutes down the road from our house.”
Sure, I could have graciously declined their invitation to join them, and could have even insisted we be dropped off at the nearby Catholic church, as is our custom and what the boys are used to. But I thought it was more important to worship with their family at their church together, and a little exposure to a very different way of worship certainly wouldn’t hurt my boys. Still, I tried to prepare them as best I could beforehand.
“Remember, they do things differently, but I still expect good behavior. If you get bored, you can do what I do, and count the bricks on the wall.”
I was referring to the front of the church, which is simply a plain brick wall. No crucifixes adorn any walls; no altar or stained glass windows can be found except for two podiums, a table and a couple of chairs.
Their style of worshipping, if you have ever attended a Presbyterian church, is quite different from Catholic Masses. It is a steady repetitive cycle where the minister reads long verses from the Bible, and then elaborates on them, with breaks between verses where the congregation stands, reads a hymn, then sits to listen to more.