Thursday, July 20, 2006

Union Chapel In the Grove

MotherBang and I attended the most beautiful church service this past Sunday at Union Chapel in the Grove, built in 1875 on the site of a former Methodist Camp Meeting ground.

God bless the Methodists for building these chapels so that summer worshipers might have somewhere to go to church while vacationing in popular destinations like the Hamptons and Maine.

I loved their liturgy, which began with this proclamation of the Christian faith:

Minister: Let us proclaim our Christian faith.

People: We believe in one God, the creator of the universe, who gives us breath, offers us the ways of life or death, and seeks to shied us from willful error and evil. He is also our judge.

[I just love that! I love that God "offers" us the ways of life or death, indicating that we have free will to follow or not... and I LOVE that tacked on ending -- almost casual, "he is also our judge." No big, threatening deal, just an acknowledgement of the higher Moral Cause. Right ON!]

We believe in Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and living Lord, sent by God to share our human lot, overcoming sin and death. He is our example.

[We believe in J.C. the man of Nazareth! How lovely is that? Note the liberal christology there. Also, I love that Jesus is our crucified and LIVING Lord -- which helps avoid the squick factor for those who, when they hear the words "crucified and risen," get a mental image of the Zombie Jesus. And I LOVE the phrase, "He is our example." Again, tacked onto the end in the most comfortable, respectful way. He is our example. Period. Damn well told]

We believe in the Holy Spirit of God who eagerly enters all receptive hearts [I love that!!How Universalist!], inspiring us to love and serve others, to resist evil and to proclaim God's good news throughout the world. He is our power.

[Aside from naming the Holy Spirit as "he," I totally dig that treatment of the Ghost.]

Mom and I got teary-eyed over the beautiful hymns like "Be Still, My Soul" and "God of Grace and God of Glory" -- and exchanged several dewy-eyed looks of astonishment at the talent of the string quartet -- all teenagers from the nearby Perlman Music Camp who graced us with an exquisite rendition of Quartet #2 in D major by Borodin for the Anthem. When I say these kids were good, I don't mean they were good for kids. I mean they were amazingly good, period. You just can't imagine the joy of sitting in church next to my cherished Mama on a beautiful summer day in this gem of a chapel hearing this soaring music. My soul was made whole. I don't think I could have worked up an anxiety attack that hour if you paid me.

Pastor Bill Grimbol, guest preaching for the day as a visitor from his own Presbyterian congregation, gave us one of those meandering, unscripted, lovely sermons filled with stories from his own life, earnest musings, passionate exhortations, and plenty of love. He dealt out his own life passed through the fire of thought, and I greatly appreciated that. He is my mother's pastor, and I wanted to hear him. She's right: if I lived in the area I would be glad to have him as my minister. Thanks, Pastor Bill.

What a beautiful church-going experience it was. Remember the name Linnea Brophy, a young violinst who is going places.

I hope they'll let me preach there sometime. What a pleasure that would be.


Blogger fausto said...

"...Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, ... is our example."


Blogger boyinthebands said...

A quibble -- "Holy Spirit of God who eagerly enters all receptive hearts" is plain Wesleyan Arminianism, and hardly Universalist.

The flip side of it is:
"No thank you, I'd rather go to Hell."

God: "Fine by me."


Blogger PeaceBang said...

But doesn't the receptive hearts part change that, Scott? Would you say more? About that going to Hell and God saying "fine" part? Maybe at your own blog?

Blogger SC Universalist said...

Well of course, Murray was a former Wesley Arminian!

(but yes, later Murray would go further and say that the Holy Spirit would enter even the less receptive heart....)


Blogger boyinthebands said...

What Steven said. Except that Murray was a Wesleyan Calvinist, like Whitefield. Relly was one of Whitefield's proteges, and John and Eliza (his first wife) Murray were sequentially congregants at Whitefield's Moorfields Tabernacle and Relly's Sandys Row congregation.

(I'll blog on the Universalist and Unitarian sights in London later.)

Think of Wesleyan in this context as method (as in Methodist) rather than theology. Remember all that "Calvinism Improved" business.

Arminianism takes free will so far that grace morphs into a work and an optional one at that. Universalism trusts God to be radically more tenacious.


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